Pei Wei Fresh Kitchen, a fast casual focused on Asian cuisine and wok’d-to-order dishes, is broadening its focus to help the thousands affected by the damaging storms Mother Nature has been doling out over the last two weeks.
Relentless rainfall in southern Texas has bested levies and left many areas under water, displacing residents and damaging homes and businesses—including some Pei Wei locations in the Houston area. After seeing so many members of their community affected, Pei Wei operators in the region banded together to create a fundraising campaign for flood victims. When corporate got wind of the initiative, they lent their support to create the Pei It Forward campaign, in which 20 percent of net proceeds from Dallas-Fort Worth-area locations will be donated to the Salvation Army’s Texas Flood Relief Fund from June 22 through June 28.
“There’s a spirit around Pei Wei of helping others and helping our communities, but this was one where the entire market got together and were working to make an impact,” says Pei Wei’s chief marketing officer, Clay Dover. “What started as a peer-to-peer initiative has really taken hold, and it shows how much restaurants can make a difference.”
Pei Wei team members have been taking it upon themselves to make trips to local radio stations, donating food and asking for on-air shout-outs about the campaign. So far, 14 radio stations have agreed to air PSA’s for the fundraiser. In addition, the brand has already unveiled 25 billboards across the Metroplex to promote the weeklong event in a marketing blitz it hopes will garner the maximum amount of donations.
“It really struck a chord—almost every one of our team members know someone personally who’s been affected by the storms,” Dover says. “They all are able to relate to this, and it’s not any particular demographic—it’s just people and communities.”
He says the initiative is not only important for local operators, but for the brand as a whole to go beyond just serving food to get involved in supporting communities and operators at a grassroots level. “It’s the right thing to do to make these long-term types of investments in communities—not just as a business, but as humans,” Dover adds.
The brand is hoping to raise a minimum of $25,000 in flood relief funds, and is considering asking for direct donations as well. Pei Wei has more than 60 locations in Texas, all of which are company-owned.
By Emily Byrd