Feeling philanthropic? Jefferson City restaurant owners are.
With the start of a new school year, so begins the never-ending fundraising season. Instead of the traditional pamphlets filled with chocolates or wrapping paper, service organizations, churches, and schools can dish up a profit by getting behind a service counter. Several local restaurants, including Culver's and McAlister's, are once again offering fundraiser nights for local not-for-profits.
Fundraiser nights involve members of a local organization promoting and working the night of the event. A few volunteers get behind the restaurant counters, serving alongside employees. Ten percent of the net sales from that particular evening goes directly back to the organization.
Culver's co-owner Kendall Walz said the fundraiser nights are just one way she and her parents, co-owners Allen and Gretchen Walz, can get to know the community better.
The fast-food restaurant known for its butterburgers and frozen custard is currently involved in a company-wide campaign to support and thank local farmers, and as such, is hosting fundraisers for several local FFA chapters. Walz said the locally owned business hosts several fundraiser nights throughout the school year, supporting various organizations.
McAlister's store manager Edrick Shelby said his restaurant hosts approximately 20 to 25 fundraiser nights each year. The deli has three events already planned for September. In addition to the 10 percent sales donated, McAlister's also donates any tips earned throughout the evening shift.
"It is our way of giving back to the community," Shelby said.
Because of the excitement generated by the organizations' own marketing, Walz said, the nights bring in more customers than usual. The evenings prove to be a win-win. Enough extra customers come into the stores to make up for the 10 percent being donated to the organization, in turn, helping without hurting.
"It is definitely a mutual benefit," Walz said.
Walz explained the fundraisers also energize her own team members, and bring an added excitement to the restaurant. Since many Culver's employees are high school students, Walz said they are often excited about supporting their own schools and organizations.
"I think they are a blast and am excited to be doing it," Walz related.
Culver's has hosted the fundraiser nights since it opened in Jefferson City in November 2009. Community involvement is a big part of their business, Walz said, and the fundraiser nights are just one of the ways they get involved.
In addition to bringing in more business, Walz said the fundraiser nights may also bring in new customers.
"It gives me the opportunity to win a new guest," she noted.
Culver's will host fundraisers for the following FFA organizations throughout September: Eldon on Sept. 16, JCHS on Sept. 18, Russellville on Sept. 24, and Eugene and Blair Oaks dates are to be announced.
McAlister's will host fundraisers for the Pregnancy Help Center on Sept. 9, Calvary Lutheran High School on Sept. 17, and Jefferson City High School Soccer Team Sept. 23.