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National Restaurant Association - The gift of giving is the entree at awards gala

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The gift of giving is the entree at awards gala

A quickservice company known for serving burgers “your way,” a fast-casual café chain, and an independent operator of seafood restaurants were the winners of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s 2018 Restaurant Neighbor Awards. The awards highlight outstanding local and national charitable service and philanthropy.

Sponsored by American Express, the awards recognize industry members who go above and beyond to support their local communities. The winners each received a donation of $10,000 to support their favorite charities or community projects.

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

Here’s a look at our winners:

Burger King McLamore Foundation
Our Large Business winner, the Burger King McLamore Foundation, was honored for providing scholarships to those in need, funding literacy projects, and building schools and libraries. “We believe that without the gift of education, the potential to create a future ‘your way’ is limited,” said Amanda Israel, executive director of the McLamore Foundation. Named for Burger King co-founder James McLamore, the foundation has helped more than 700,000 children and families, and awarded more than $32 million in support of 30,000 students.

Wildflower Bread Company
The 2018 Mid-Size Business winner, is a 16-unit, family-owned, fast-casual chain founded by Tracy and Louis Basile. The owners believe that employees, guests and local members of the community should be treated like family, and are dedicated to four principal pillars: fighting food insecurity, increasing education, advancing the cause of women, and animal advocacy. “Since our inception, Wildflower has been built on connecting with community, one meal, one event and one smile at a time,” says Louis Basile. Through its Wildflower Cares Foundation, the company has donated more than $4.4 million in baked goods to the hungry. In addition, it donates 10 percent of every baguette sold back into the community. In 2017, it raised more than $54,000 to end childhood hunger.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar
This year’s Small Business winner, puts its philanthropic emphasis on education. In 2017, John and Amanda Horne, owners of the four-unit restaurant company, developed the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which ensures that more low-income students will succeed in school. The Hornes were especially proud that the 74 children in the program read more than 1,600 books in four weeks. The kids received a hot breakfast, learned table manners and broke into groups for one-on-one reading sessions. Each child also received a backpack with books, pencils, white boards and a “Dive for Reading” t-shirt allowing them to eat free at any of the Anna Maria Oyster Bars. The Hornes also assist adults with educational goals through their Anna Maria Oyster Bar/Air & Energy Scholarship Fund. They’ve raised $250,000 in the last four years, helping adults return to college at three local schools.

At the end of the evening, one of the most famous celebrity chefs in our industry received this year’s Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award.

Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless
Chef-owner of Chicago’s Frontera Restaurants Inc., was recognized for launching the Frontera Farmer Foundation, which has awarded 200 grants and more than $2 million to small Midwestern Farms since 2003. Famous for his Mexican cuisine, Bayless founded the Frontera Scholarship in 2007, which awards annual full-tuition scholarships to students of Mexican-American heritage. The students pursue education in culinary arts at Chicago’s Kendall College. Next up for Bayless: a culinary training program for low-income students on Chicago’s West Side. Bayless also has joined the U.S. State Department’s American Chef Corps, a group of culinarians who promote and use food as a diplomatic gap-bridging tool around the world.

Ecolab sponsored the Ambassador of Hospitality Award.

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