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National Restaurant Association - At gala, human kindness overflowed

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At gala, human kindness overflowed

A well-known chain known for its “Blizzards”, a 10-unit grill pub concept named for a lizard and an independent restaurateur in Augusta, Maine, were recipients this year of our Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Neighbor awards.

Sponsored by American Express, the awards, recognize industry members who go above and beyond to support their communities.

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF, congratulated the winners at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C.

Have a look at our 2017 Restaurant Neighbor award winners:

International Dairy Queen

Our Large Business winner, International Dairy Queen, has raised $125 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since 1984. This year, franchisee donations from Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day totaled around $4 million and benefited 170 hospitals across North America. Marketing VP Tim Hawley said franchisee “leadership and generosity were some of the reasons” IDQ was honored.

Gecko’s Grill & Pub

Gecko’s Grill & Pub, our Midsize Business winner, makes philanthropy a main ingredient of its success. Through support of the 4-H Foundation, local law enforcement, military and combat veteran groups, and youth services, Gecko’s is a pillar of its community. The 10-unit chain also has donated several million dollars to local schools. Co-founder Mike Quillen thanked his wife, Mary, and his friends. He also said the restaurant industry “impacts many lives and creates opportunities and pathways to achieving the American Dream.”

The Red Barn Restaurant

This year’s Small Business winner is known for giving in its hometown of Augusta, Maine. Veterans, local schools, statewide food banks and animal welfare organizations, are top of mind with owner Laura Benedict. To date, Red Barn has donated $2 million to those in need. Benedict, who for years faced great personal and professional adversity, implored the audience to be generous to others. “If you give, you’ll never need.”

Xavier Teixido, Ambassador of Hospitality

At the end of the evening, this year’s Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award was presented to Teixido, owner of Delaware’s Harry’s Hospitality Group. He was honored for his tireless efforts on behalf of our industry and for his lifetime of community service.

The event was held during our annual Public Affairs Conference, March 28 to 29.

Read about our 2017 Faces of Diversity winners

Pictured, top: This year's Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity winners

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