California Restaurant Association Announces State Winners of National Philanthropy Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   CONTACT: Kearsten Shepherd

  July 20, 2007                                         PHONE: 800.765.4842 ext. 2726


Four California Restaurants Represent the State in National Award Competition

Sacramento, Calif. – The California Restaurant Association (CRA) today announced the state winners for the National Restaurant Neighbor Award and Cornerstone Humanitarian Award. The program was created by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to honor restaurants’ community service. The California winners of the Restaurant Neighbor Award are Sorensen’s Resort and Cafe in Hope Valley, Mary’s Pizza Shack in Sonoma and Mimi’s Café in Tustin. The winner of the California Cornerstone Humanitarian Award is Dorothy L. Walker of Wellington’s Pub & Restaurant in Turlock. They are now in the running for national awards to be presented in September.

“Sorensen’s Resort and Cafe, Mary’s Pizza Shack, Mimi’s Café and Wellington’s Pub & Restaurant are all prime examples of the generosity and philanthropy California restaurants exhibit every day of the year in their communities,” said Jot Condie, President and CEO of the CRA. “The Restaurant Neighbor and Cornerstone Humanitarian Awards recognize the driving force behind restaurants’ involvement in community service. It is a great way to shine the spotlight on and honor the many things they do each day to make our communities better places to live and work.”

Sorensen’s Resort and Cafe has helped protect the natural resources surrounding the Alpine County resort for the past 25 years. The owners, John and Patty Brissenden, donated 65 acres of the resort’s land to be preserved as open space. The Brissendens also worked with the local community to organize the nonprofit organization Friends of Hope Valley, which works within the local, state and federal political systems to preserve land and resources in Hope Valley.

Mary’s Pizza Shack has been giving back to the community for nearly 50 years. In 2002, Mary’s Pizza Shack formed the Dine and Donate Fundraising Program to benefit area schools and nonprofit organizations. The Dine and Donate Fundraisers take place in most of the 15 restaurant locations Monday and Tuesday nights. Mary’s Pizza Shack donates 20 percent of sales generated at these fundraisers. In the first six months of 2007, Mary’s Pizza Shack has held 177 Dine and Donate Fundraisers and donated more than $30,000. 
Mimi’s Café school partnership program has been active since the chain opened its first restaurant in 1978. Over the years the school partnership program has expanded and grown to support more than 10,000 schools. In 1992, the Certificate of Achievement Program was launched for students that demonstrate academic excellence and the Wood Nickel program was started for athletic achievement. The following year, the Certificate of Appreciation program was started to recognize teachers, volunteers and office administrators. This year Mimi’s Café began participation in the Kid Healthy campaign, a child obesity prevention program through Southern California schools. Mimi’s Café’s continued support of schools has benefited hundreds of thousands of students and teachers.

Dorothy L. Walker opened her restaurant in Turlock in 1999. The following year, seeing a need to provide a place for Turlock’s poor and elderly residents that had no place to go for Christmas dinner, Dorothy closed her restaurant and set up shop in a large exhibit building at the local fairgrounds. That year Dorothy fed turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread, yams, fresh steamed vegetables, rolls and pies to more than 500 people. The number of attendees has increased each year, reaching more than 1,000 people this past Christmas. Dorothy’s sole motivation is helping others.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award and the Cornerstone Humanitarian Award honor charitable contributions of restaurants in four categories – one small business, one mid-size restaurant, one large business/national chain and one humanitarian of the year. The California winners will contend with winners from other states and be eligible for the national award. One grand prize winner in each category will be announced at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., held September 25-26, 2007. The national winners will each receive a $5,000 award to help the restaurant continue its community programs and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the award ceremony.

The NRA and founding partner American Express developed the Restaurant Neighbor and Cornerstone Humanitarian Awards to recognize outstanding community programs across the country and to inspire other restaurant operators and owners to do what they can in their communities.

A profile of each state winner’s community involvement will be highlighted in a booklet that the NRA will distribute in the fall, as well as on the NRA’s Web site at <>.