T.G.I. Friday’s is feeding those in need through its partnership with Feeding America.

The casual dining chain teamed up with the charity earlier this year. In September it participated in Hunger Action month, for which a number of restaurants participated by encouraging employees to volunteer at their local food banks. Some restaurants also held canned food drives.

In addition, over 200 people from the corporate support center participated at a local food bank that’s part of the Feeding America network.

Next up will be donating proceeds from the domestic competitions of T.G.I. Friday’s World Bartending Championships.

This will be the 21st championship, but is the first year in which a donation will be made to Feeding America. Donations in previous years have gone to organizations such as Make a Wish and Children’s Miracle Network.

T.G.I. Friday’s hopes to raise between $40,000 and $50,000 for Feeding America this year through the donations from the divisional competitions of the World Bartending Championship.

Around 8,000 bartenders compete on a global basis, then the winners of that round proceed to a regional competition, then move on to four divisional competitions.

This year the divisionals are taking place in Milwaukee, Plano, Texas, Woodbridge, New Jersey, and West Palm Beach, Florida—this month and next. The winners from these contests go to a final round, to compete against colleagues from other countries.

All money that the divisional competitions raise goes to Feeding America. The restaurant sells seats to them at different prices—there’s a premium for a seat in the front, for example. And there are usually auctions, too.

“What gets the restaurants excited is they can do this for a charitable association at the same time as driving traffic to the restaurant to watch the show,” says Jeannine Brew, spokeswoman for T.G.I. Friday’s.

Steve Coe, a spokesman for the chain, agrees. “The bartenders are the leader for our bar and restaurant. The bar is the center of activity. The bartender championships provide added excitement in the bar.” This excitement, he adds, is generated through banners, or regulars knowing the bartender is competing, or simply from buzz on the day of the competition itself.

The championships also help develop stronger bartenders, he explains. “They are evaluated on their drink and mixology knowledge and ability as well as their ability to entertain. So it creates excitement for guests as well as the restaurant team.”

By Amanda Baltazar

Industry News, Philanthropy, T.G.I. Friday's