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

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

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.