Restaurant ExperienceRestuarant Community

How Restaurants Give Back to Their Communities

We all have our own ways of giving back. According to Merriam-Webster, giving back is “to provide help or financial assistance to others in appreciation of one’s own success or good fortune.” Restaurants have long been considered a cornerstone of their communities, helping those in need when tragedy strikes, and celebrating milestones when they arrive, whether birthdays or the big win on game day. 

According to the New Mexico Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry donates an incredible $3 billion in resources to their communities every year. In addition to donating food and time, 94% of restaurants make charitable contributions. 

Giving back not only helps those you support but also increases your brand awareness. It helps solidify your business as a place people want to support because you’ve supported them. 

If you haven’t yet found your niche in your community and how to give back to the people that support you, here are a few tried and true “pay it forward” avenues to consider. 

Buy Locally

Being part of a community means supporting your local businesses. As a restaurant owner or operator, you’re in a unique position to help the local agriculture industry. While it may take a little more time, your guests will love locally sourced ingredients, and you’ll be contributing to the local economy while reducing your carbon footprint.

Help the Hungry by Donating Food

Donating food is a natural way for restaurants to give. You can contribute to a food bank or work with one of the growing numbers of companies working to keep food out of landfills and over to those that need it. An example is ZeroPercent in Chicago. When restaurants have excess food that would end up tossed, ZeroPercent picks it up and delivers it to participating shelters or charities. 

Host a Charity Event

It’s a great idea to get staff involved in your charitable contributions. It helps them feel like they’re part of the solution and gives them that warm feeling in the center of their chest that comes from helping others. 

Charity events can be large extravaganzas or cookouts on the patio. The important part is that you and your staff decide on the charity and then get the word out through social media, flyers, and local businesses. A straightforward approach is to designate a drink and menu item and give the profits from those items to your chosen charity.

Anyone that’s been in the restaurant business knows that you probably have many people and organizations coming to you for contributions. It’s important that you have a concrete “Giving Back” strategy in place so that you know how much you’re giving and where it’s going. It’s always easier for someone to hear a “no” if you follow it up with the causes you support.

Island Restaurants, a chain with about 42 units in Southern California and Arizona, believes in supporting their local communities. They give more than half a million dollars every year, supporting local schools, community programs, and outdoor programs for at-risk and underprivileged youth. 

FSR Magazine reported on one of Ledo Pizza’s franchisees, Scott Taggart. He started Spirit Night fundraisers to support local sports teams and schools. As a result, he now spends 50% less on advertising and marketing because the local families support him, and he has not actively tried to hire someone in 18 years.    


What are examples of giving back?

There are numerous ways to give back, whether to your community or the world. You can give your time, money, or expertise. You can give someone a smile or a kind word. You can buy someone a drink or a meal when they’re at a low point. Everyone always has something they can give.

What do restaurants do for the community? 

As with any industry, restaurants support their communities in different ways and on varying levels. Some support the local farmers, while others have a cause their passionate about. All of them provide local jobs and a place to gather for celebrations, camaraderie, and support. 

Why is giving back so important?

There are a lot of famous people with a lot to say about giving back. Here are just a few: 

“The secret to living is giving.”—Tony Robbins

“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”—Mother Teresa

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”—Winston Churchill

  • Subscribe to our latest insights

Are you capital raise ready?