The connection between restaurants and feeding the hungry is undeniable. Share Our Strength leverages that connection in many ways, one of those being Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. This turnkey cause-marketing program is attractive to independent and multi-unit restaurants alike, allowing them flexibility to create unique promotions that leverage the power of their menus and brands—engaging employees and patrons around a cause important to both.
Joe’s Crab Shack has been a national partner and leading fundraiser in the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry since its inception. A popular spot with Millennials, Joe’s is a national chain of casual-dine restaurants serving a variety of high-quality seafood, with an emphasis on crab. Since 2008, Joe’s restaurants have raised more than $3.5 million for the cause. Joe’s president Jim Mazany credits the majority of this success to his managers and servers across the county.
“Our staff really is a team, from back-of-house to front-of-house,” Mazany says. “Every team member is involved in the cause. Servers are telling guests the importance of their donations, and our managers and kitchen staff plan and host fundraising events for the employees. In the last few years, we’ve created a competition among locations. In 2012, the general managers raising the most for No Kid Hungry were treated to a trip to New York for our first grand opening in Manhattan, and they also had the opportunity just to be tourists and enjoy all the city has to offer. But incentives are just icing on the cake. Our teams really care about ending childhood hunger in America.”
Patrons visiting Joe’s Crab Shack are not only given the chance to donate, they’re given something of value in return—a bounceback coupon to be used on a future visit. The restaurants have learned that when customers come back to redeem those coupons, they typically bring friends or family and spend beyond the value of the original offer.
And while employee engagement is vital, the support of upper management is just as critical. Mazany has championed the cause within his company since 2008, and will share his passion for No Kid Hungry with anyone who’ll listen. Executive leadership from Ignite Restaurant Group (Joe’s parent company) has served on the No Kid Hungry Leadership Council and the Dine Out Advisory Board (on which Mazany just finished a term as chairman).
“It’s truly a win-win situation,” Mazany says. “Our loyal guests know that each September they can do something good for the community and have fun doing it. That gives them a reason to come into the restaurant, which is the ultimate business benefit.” A recipe for success in anyone’s book.