Thursday, January 14, 2010

Restaurants show their hearts. My friend told me.

As a journalist who covers the restaurant industry, I of course have to remain absolutely, positively objective about the companies and chains that make up the business. Show appreciation or regard for even a single member and someone might suspect you lack the cold-heartedness to tell it like it is.

But I have this friend who covers the business, and he wants me to publish a few of the reasons why he’s particularly proud today to be affiliated with the trade. Here they are:

--McDonald’s pledged to donate $500,000 to relief efforts for Haiti, and its Latin American franchisee offered to match whatever the home office provides. That’s $1 million in aid.

--Burton’s Grill, a four-unit chain in the Boston area, announced that it would donate 15% of its revenues for the day to buy food for the Haitians. You could argue that giving away one of every six dollars that’s slipped into the till by a company of that size is a bigger sacrifice than the McDonald’s million.

--Yum! Brands, the parent of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, pledged to send $500,000 from its standing hunger-relief fund to Haiti.

--Burger King's standing charity has pledged $50,000 in relief.

--In Chicago, independent restaurants are forming a Donate a Dollar program to fund a Haitian relief effort called Wake of the Quake. Apparently patrons will be asked to make contributions that will then be aggregated and shipped to the earthquake-devastated nation.

--A roundup of what other restaurateurs are doing to help was compiled by The New York Times' Kim Severson and published in paper's Diner's Journal Blog . Among the contributors are such gods of the business as Danny Meyer, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mario Batali.

There are undoubtedly dozens of other programs that restaurants are undertaking to help quake victims, and each deserves to be celebrated. It's a good feeling to be part of this business.

I was referring to my friend, of course.

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