National Restaurant Association Announces Winners of Prestigious 2007 Restaurant Neighbor Award

WASHINGTON, Sept 25, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — CCRHF | charts | news | PowerRating — Award highlights restaurants’ outstanding contributions to their communities

The National Restaurant Association today announced the winners of the ninth annual Restaurant Neighbor Award during the Association’s 2007 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. The award celebrates the philanthropic spirit of the restaurant industry and serves to inspire others to actively get involved in their communities. This year’s winners are T-60 Grill in Seneca, S.C. (small business category); Canlis Restaurant in Seattle, Wash. (mid-size business category); Ninety Nine Restaurants in Woburn, Mass. (large business category); and Cornerstone Humanitarian Pano Karatassos, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Ga. Each winner received $5,000 to continue its outreach to the community.

“We are proud to honor the winners of our Restaurant Neighbor Award for their extraordinary efforts, but the real winners are the communities in which they serve,” said Peter Kilgore, acting interim president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association. “These restaurants work hard every day not only to provide great meals and excellent customer service, but also to make their communities better places to live and work. From providing meals to those less fortunate, to supporting schools, their innovative programs will serve as inspiration to many.”

Restaurants from participating states were selected to contend for the national Restaurant Neighbor Award (small business, mid-size business and large business categories) and the Cornerstone Humanitarian award, which honors an individual who is personally dedicated to community service. A profile of the community-service efforts of each national and state winner will be highlighted on the Association’s Web site, http://www.restaurant.org/community. American Express is the founding sponsor of the awards program.

“American Express is pleased to work with our partner, the National Restaurant Association, in supporting the Restaurant Neighbor Award. We extend our sincere congratulations to the 2007 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners and finalists, as well as our appreciation to all who submitted applications this year,” said Hans Lindh, vice president, restaurant industry, American Express Merchant Services.

The winners of the 2007 Restaurant Neighbor Award are:

Small Business Winner: Coach’s Low Country Brand’s/T-60 Grill in Seneca, S.C.

The T-60 Grill found an innovative solution to make a big impact on the growing problem of school budget cuts. Upon learning that teachers routinely spend their own money on school supplies, owner Joe Crosby created a golf tournament that raised $41,000 from sponsorships and contributions as part of Oconee County’s “Make a Difference Day.” Working with the local Staples office supply store, Crosby arranged for the store to close for two hours to allow teachers to shop for supplies with a 20 percent discount, while the T-60 Grill served food to the teachers and their families in the store parking lot. Inspired by Crosby’s mother — a teacher for 40 years — education is a passion for the T-60 Grill.

Mid-Size Business Winner: Canlis Restaurant in Seattle, Wash.

For more than 14 years, FareStart — a program that provides nutritious meals to those in need — has operated a restaurant in downtown Seattle to help train homeless individuals and raise funds for new programs. With the support of upscale Seattle restaurant Canlis, Fare Start has been able to provide nearly 2.3 million meals to the Seattle community. The restaurant donates food and staff expertise to the FareStart kitchen, as well as hosts fundraising events to remodel and improve the FareStart facilities. In addition, several Canlis staff members volunteer their private hours for training and service. The restaurant has also hired a graduate of FareStart’s culinary job training program to work in its own kitchen.

Large Business Winner: Ninety Nine Restaurants in Woburn, Mass.

While volunteering at the Pine Street Inn — New England’s largest homeless shelter — Ninety Nine Restaurants founder Charlie Doe recognized two former employees in line and realized that homelessness can touch anyone and that his restaurant could make a difference. The restaurant company has now supported the Pine Street Inn for 27 years through food and equipment donations, cash contributions and job training. Staff involvement is a big part of the outreach; staff members volunteer in the shelter each month. In addition, Ninety Nine Restaurants supports the Inn’s Food Services Job Training Program, which enabled the Inn to launch a social enterprise called Abundant Table that provides catering and produces revenue for the program. They also have a national partnership with the Boys and Girls Club.

Cornerstone Humanitarian Winner: Pano Karatassos, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Ga.

An entrepreneur and industry visionary with more than 50 years of experience in the restaurant business, Pano Karatassos has received more than 30 honors for his service to his community, including Share Our Strength’s Great Oak Award, the March of Dimes Salute to Culinary Excellence, the National Conference for Community and Justice Brotherhood Award, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He serves as the Atlanta chairperson for the national Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation event, for which he is one of the country’s leading fundraisers and organizers. Karatassos is also a prominent fundraiser for the March of Dimes. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Restaurant Association and is a founding member of Atlanta’s Table, a project of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

For more information on T-60 Grill, Canlis Restaurant, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Pano Karatassos, or the Restaurant Neighbor Award, visit http://www.restaurant.org/community.

The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 935,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 12.8 million employees — making it the cornerstone of the economy, career opportunities and community involvement. Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.restaurant.org.

SOURCE National Restaurant Association

http://www.restaurant.org