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August 8, 2011

Four Restaurant Companies Honored As Restaurant Neighbor Award Finalists

Appetize Inc. in Appleton, Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton, Wisconsin Hospitality Group headquartered in Wauwatosa and Terry Bolland, Owner of the Summertime Restaurant in Fish Creek, were honored as Wisconsin finalists for the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Neighbor Award.

The Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton was honored in the Small Business category. With the economic downturn affecting funding for school sports programs at the high school in Edgerton, Buckhorn has taken up the mantle, providing some $30,000 a year to keep the school's spring and summer baseball teams in uniforms and equipment. The money also pays for other expenses and awards relating to the program.

The restaurant raises the much-needed funds through its All Edgerton Baseball Chicken Dinner at the Buckhorn Supper Club, which it began hosting in 2002. The funds are collected from ticket sales to the dinner and a raffle held during the event. More than 600 people attend the dinner, which is held in mid- to late March.

In addition to aiding Edgerton High School, Buckhorn's owners, Chico and Dawn Pope, also support the culinary program at Blackhawk Technical College. Every year they host an event benefiting the school's scholarship fund, which provides monies for students to travel to renowned restaurants around the world. The Popes further invest themselves by offering internships at their restaurant to Blackhawk Technical College students. Eight students have won the much-coveted internships at Buckhorn so far.

Appetize, Inc., a HuHot Mongolian Grill franchiser in Appleton, was honored in the Mid-size Business category. The six-unit company run by David Lindenstruth, says it is not only focused on positively impacting every restaurant guest and employee, but also the neighborhoods they serve. Through its Making Community Impacts program, Appetize, Inc. donates 1.5 percent of each month's gross sales to a different nonprofit group.

Interested non-profits submit applications which are reviewed quarterly by a third party selection committee appointed by Appetize, Inc. The committees select the top three applicants for the quarter.  As part of the program, the people involved with the non-profits are asked to participate in a “Helping Hands” night at the restaurant locations that they are receiving funds from.  They assist Appetize staff with basic duties and have the chance to share information about their organizations with guests.

Organizations benefiting from the company's generosity include the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Wisconsin, to name a few. In all, the company has raised an appetizing total of $88,000 for charity.

Wisconsin Hospitality Group, a franchiser of 38 Applebee's and 82 Pizza Hut restaurants throughout Wisconsin, was honored in the Large Business/National Chain category. WHG has focused on several causes that have impacted its executives and team members greatly.

On the Applebee's side of the business, an 11-year-old partnership with Wisconsin Children's Hospital has raised more than $926,000 through walkathons, brat fries, disc golf events and car washes. The monies are used in two ways: to purchase equipment for the hospital and benefit social programs that help sick kids. In 2010, the fundraising activities for the hospital were dedicated to the memory of Meaghan Rath, the daughter of long-time managers Ken and Kate Rath, who died after a struggle with leukemia.

WHG's Applebee's business also donates time and money to support the U.S. military; its restaurants served more than 21,000 free meals to active-duty, veteran personnel and their families on Veteran's Day last year. It also initiated an Honor Flight program that raised money to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., so they might see the war memorial there recognizing their brave service.

The Applebee's restaurants also held a Teacher's Day free meal promotion honoring instructors for their dedication to education, a blood drive and a holiday gift drive for those in need.

Its Pizza Hut stores focused on Camp Heartland, a safe-haven camp for children with HIV/AIDS. Since 2001, WHG has donated more than $645,500 to that cause.

Terry Bolland, owner of the Summertime Restaurant in Fish Creek was honored as the Cornerstone Humanitarian. If there is an organization in his community needing food, donations or volunteers, Terry Bolland is going to cook up a plan to get the party started.

Bolland, owner of Summertime Restaurant, a seasonal establishment in Fish Creek, is committed to offering his services whenever he is called upon, whether it's to help raise funds for the local nonprofit art school or events like the annual Winter Games, Fireman's Festival or the Mexican Independence Day Celebration.

The restaurant opens each year in mid-May and closes in October. When Bolland puts the "Closed" sign on the door for the last time during the year, he invites friends, his family members, local residents and even strangers to come inside for a free breakfast any day of the week. He cooks those meals himself and when people ask why the meal is free, he often tells them: "The price is you have to eat with me."

Bolland's charity is also shared with his restaurant business competitors, sharing employees if and when they need them, as staffing is a major issue for many seasonal operations.

Perhaps his biggest contribution, however, is his participation in the annual Fish Creek Fest & Fireworks, an Independence Day fundraiser that benefits the town's first responders and civic association. Since 2002, the event has raised more than $10,000 and has helped boost tourism in the area.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award recognizes foodservice businesses throughout the U.S. for their commitment to community service and innovative community projects in four categories (Small Business, Mid-size Business, Large Business/National Chain, and Cornerstone Humanitarian). Each participating state restaurant association selects winners in their respective states that compete with winners from other states for the national award.

“We are proud to recognize these outstanding winners of the 2011 Restaurant Neighbor Award,” said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “America’s restaurants serve their communities every day. Providing nourishment, quality of life, opportunity and enjoyment, restaurants are not only good neighbors but important contributors to our nation’s health and prosperity.”

A panel of industry leaders selects four national award recipients from winners of participating states. The national winners of the 2011 Restaurant Neighbor Award each receive a $5,000 contribution to continue their community programs and are presented the awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Both national and state winners are also recognized on the National Restaurant Association Web site.

The National Restaurant Association and Restaurant Neighbor Award founding partner American Express developed the award to raise awareness about the restaurant industry’s contributions in local communities across the country and to inspire other restaurant owners and operators to showcase their enormous contributions in their communities.

For more information and to apply, visit the National Restaurant Association’s web site at www.restaurant.org/sustainability.

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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the promotion, protection and improvement of the foodservice industry.

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960