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Restaurants recognized for giving back to communities
Atlanta, GA - The Georgia Restaurant Association recently announced its 2017 Restaurant Neighbor award state winners. These individuals and restau- rant groups have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to serving their communities through outstanding charitable service and philanthropy and will advance to the national level to compete for the grand prize of $10,000 to support their favorite charity or non-profit.
The Georgia Restaurant Neighbor Award winners:
Ray Schoenbaum
Ray's on the River
Ray Schoenbaum, owner of Ray's
Restaurants, LLC is dedicated to help- ing children and has supported the Fragile Kids Foundation each year since 1988. He hosts events at Ray's on the River to benefit the foundation, in- cluding Tastings Under the Tent and an annual breakfast with Santa. Tastings Under the Tent is a fundraiser that features incredible food by Ray's Restaurants paired with beverages. Additionally, Ray's on the River hosts an annual breakfast with Santa to benefit the Fragile Kids Foundation. The breakfast is fully staffed by Ray's team and they donate over 125 meals for the children.
John C. Metz
Sterling Spoon Hospitality Sterling Hospitality has raised
more than $730k for Special Olympics Georgia since the inception of their partnership. Last year's golf tourna- ment alone raised $95k. Metz and Sterling Spoon are also actively in- volved with the Atlanta Community Food Bank through hosting fundrais- ing events within their restaurants and also participating in community events such as the Hunger Run/Walk. They also participate in an annual dine-out event for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, which aims to end childhood hunger in America.
Van Jakes
Jake 22 Management
Van Jakes is involved in
the Wheels of Dream Youth Foundation, which works with high school juniors and seniors to provide mentoring and educational opportuni- ties. He has also developed a program that allows college students to come in for an eight-week internship opportu- nity, where they learn about business operations and marketing.
Willy Bitter
Willy's Mexicana Grill Willy's Mexicana Grill has
been an active sponsor of the Boys and Girls Club for sev- eral years. The partnership started with Willy's support- ing their annual 'Salsa, Salsa' culinary challenge, where the kids from the club create salsa recipes using ingredients from their gardens. Willy's celebrated its 21th anniver-
sary last year by raising $21,000 in 21 days to continue supporting the Boys & Girls Club's Healthy Lifestyles Garden Program. In 2015, they raised $20k in 20 days and in 2017 they plan to raise $22k in 22 days.
From all state winners, three national Restaurant Neighbor Award winners are chosen by a panel of industry professionals and receive an all-expenses paid trip to
Washington, D.C. in March 2017 where they are honored at a gala awards dinner during the National Restaurant Association's Public Affair Conference.
"The restaurant industry goes above and beyond, not just by serving guests as the table, but serving others in the com- munity," says Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association. "We're givers by nature and understand the im-
Regynald Washington
Hojeij Branded Foods
In 2015, Washington gave a $1
million endowment to the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The Master's program is now named The Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management Program. His endowment will offer grad- uate student scholarships, allow for en- hanced global experiences, and provide expanding teaching technologies.
About the Georgia Restaurant Association:
The GRA's mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia's restaurants in advocacy, education and awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association to operate Georgia's only not-for-profit representing the state's foodservice in- dustry. The GRA serves as the unified voice for over 17,000 foodservice and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $18.8 billion
which provides more than 438,900 jobs. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia.
About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation: As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF exists to enhance the restaurant industry's service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities. The NRAEF works to attract, develop and re- tain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry.
Visit the NRAEF online at
Regynald Washington
John C. Metz
Ray Schoenbaum
portance of giving back. These restau- rants deserve to be recognized for helping shape and strengthen their com- munities." Find more information and stories from all winning applicants at
Van Jakes
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S◆terling Hospitality has raised more than $730k for Special Olympics Georgia since the inception of their partnership.

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