Last year, T.L. Cannon Companies, the franchisee for 61 Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants in upstate New York and Connecticut, provided more than $2.42 million to nonprofits and other organizations.
The company has been doing fundraising and providing in-kind support for community programs in need for the past 20 years, since its franchises were established. Among the organizations it has donated to are the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and local churches, schools and youth groups.
T.L. Cannon also supports children’s education through donation programs. Children are rewarded for school achievements with a card for a free kid's meal at Applebee's, for example. Or once a student reads 10 books, he or she receives a free kid's meal with the purchase of an adult meal at one of the restaurants.
And for the past seven years, the New York State Restaurant Association has awarded the company with its "Good Neighbor Award.”
Applebee’s has also recognized T.L. Cannon as its "Applebee's Neighbor of the Year"—in 2006 and 2009—due to the grassroots support it provides to neighborhoods with Applebee’s restaurants.
Stephanie Griffin, a spokeswoman for the company, talks to Restaurant Management.
What led to T.L. Cannon fundraising and providing in-kind support?
Our brand (Applebee’s) has always stood for being part of the community. It has always been a core value. So we provide the support and we don’t consider it a decision; it’s what we do. We are neighborhood and we support neighborhood.
You focus a lot on children—why?
What we see more and more as the economy and the world changes, is that it’s groups and schools that serve youth that don’t have funding.
We are also involved with charitable organizations. But we don’t do as many [of those] because we find that to be grassroots, we want to be in the community and serving schools and education.