While rain started to fall from the mist in the air, 30ish adults (parents, grandparents, teachers – volunteers all) arrived a the Happy Valley, Oregon Applebees restaurant just below our home. Applebees promotes itself as a neighborhood family restaurant and this is one restaurant chain that actually understands and lives by their slogan. In the sense of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, Applebees lives their Why! – They are neighbors.
The aforementioned 30ish volunteers gathered at 7:30 this morning to prepare for a PTA sponsored pancake breakfast fundraiser for my daughter’s elementary school. Note, Applebees is not a breakfast establishment – all this is extra work for them. The volunteers arrived on-time and ready to work. Omar, the restaurant manager gave us the kitchen tour and explained that our jobs were to greet, seat, clean, bus, and stage the meal items. Jobs were assigned, and all of us went to work. Thirty minutes later, the patrons started to arrive – there was no chaos. Customers queued, volunteers worked. By the time my 2 hour shift was over, more than 200 people had been served, the entire restaurant was filled with smiling happy people, young and old alike.
Business is frequently criticized for its failings and ignored for their blessings. Applebees opens their restaurant to schools and other civic organizations so they may raise needed funds by providing the community with tangible value. Applebees provides all of the materials – we provide the labor (they are the chefs -and kitchen processes – they maintain standards in the kitchen at all times). Applebees allows the group to charge $7 and earns $2 per meal to cover their direct costs. This is by far more than fair for the organization.
Why do they do it? They (Applebees) does it because it is their Why! – They are in the neighborhood and they support the community – not with 10% of sales but for an entire Saturday morning with nearly 70% of the proceeds (plus tips). The PTA will use the proceeds to support teachers, students, and the school community. Applebees is investing in their future by demonstrating excellent corporate citizenship – someone in the Applebees leadership got it right. And I want to say thank you form the top and bottom of my heart and my mind.
And clearly the next time my family looks for a place for a family meal out – we’ll go back to Applebees and reward them for helping us.
Funny isn’t it. Their act of kindness, doing the right thing for the right reason will return long-term benefits that advertising will never achieve – they are part of my community and if you have one in yours – please support them because clearly they support you.