Industry News | October 25, 2001

Eat n Park Honored by NRA

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The National Restaurant Association recently announced the winners of its Restaurant Neighbor Award. The program recognizes restaurant operators who make outstanding contributions to their communities.

According to the NRA, participating state restaurant associations choose two winners from their state (a multi-unit operator and a single-unit operator) to compete for the national award. A national panel of judges meet in Washington, DC, in August to select two national winners, each of whom receives $5,000 to support their community programs. The judging panel also awards a "Cornerstone Humanitarian Award" to an individual who has gone "above and beyond" to support their local community.

Applicants must be involved in a community program or have their own project that has a strong impact in their community, either through funds raised or direct volunteer involvement. Factors taken into consideration included how the restaurant and/or its staff involved as well as the goals of the project and have they been reached.

Eat N Park was chosen as a 2001 winner in the multi-unit operator category. The following is a review from the National Restaurant Association.

Employees of Eat‘n Park will do almost anything for the Children’s Hospital Campaign: take a pie in the face, camp out on the roof, play "midnight bingo." Some of the operation’s fundraising events are downright silly, yet there is a very serious goal at stake: providing healthcare for sick children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

Since its inception in 1979, Eat‘n Park’s Children’s Hospital Campaign has become a fundraising tradition. With 76 restaurants and more than 7,000 employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Eat‘n Park company has leveraged its resources to make a far-reaching, measurable difference in the lives of thousands of children. The company’s Park Classic Diner concept, with a "retro" theme reminiscent of the 1950s, lends itself to a fun, family-oriented campaign.

Each year, beginning in mid-November, every individual restaurant launches a five-week campaign to support its local children’s hospital—the more creative, the better. The Corporate Support Center supports the restaurants on multiple levels, from communicating with each restaurant’s campaign co-chairs to sponsoring a friendly competition for most funds raised. Additionally, sales of merchandise featuring the company’s signature "Smiley Cookie" benefit the campaign, and top fundraisers are invited to a special recognition dinner held at one of Pittsburgh’s top fine-dining establishments.

Successful annual events launched by individual Eat‘n Park restaurants include a raffle for a new car, a wrestling match, and an immensely popular pie-throwing contest. At the the Lindle Road Eat‘n Park, employees Pat Kehew and Rita Landvater have established a yearly tradition of "camping out" on the restaurant’s roof, braving the cold to benefit kids. In 1999, they spent 65 consecutive hours on the roof, accumulating a total of $5,555. Totals raised by events at each Eat‘n Park location typically range from $1,500 to more than $20,000.

Over 21 years, Eat‘n Park’s Children’s Hospital Campaign has contributed more than $4 million to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh alone. In 2000, the campaign’s grand total—contributed to nine different children’s hospitals—was $263,520.