What are some activations for Firebirds around the foundation? How has the company raised money for ALSF in and outside of the restaurant? And how do you get employees prepared?
Going back to 2000 when restaurateur Dennis Thompson opened the first Firebirds Wood Fired GrilI, the notion of giving back was part of the fabric woven into the company’s culture. It’s important that we have employees buy-in. In fact, it’s an integral part of our onboarding and training programs. Employee feedback is overwhelmingly one of pride, knowing that their job includes a bigger purpose and that they can truly make a difference.
We started with a single menu offering, a fresh glass of lemonade. For every glass sold Firebirds donates $1.25 to ALSF year-round. Since then we’ve expanded our fundraising efforts to include:
Lemonade Days: An annual three-day fundraising program when employees erect and staff lemonade stands at every Firebirds restaurant location (soon to be 51 in 19 states). We make it easy for our guests to donate at the lemonade stand using Square Payment, which allows them to swipe their cards and grab a glass of lemonade on their way out. Thanks to our charitable guests, we surpassed our goal to raise $100,000 in three days. It’s definitely a community effort.
Big Daddy Lemonade Cake: A portion of proceeds from every slice of lemonade cake sold is donated to ALSF.
Round Up for a Cure: Our guests are given an opportunity to increase their check total to the nearest dollar amount, with the difference donated to ALSF.
The Lemon Ball: Firebirds is a Diamond-level sponsor of this annual fundraising event which includes sending 20 staff members to the ALSF gala in Philadelphia each year, and every year our folks come back so inspired to help eradicate childhood cancer in our lifetime.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Golf Classic: Firebirds recently held its second annual golf tournament in September which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The amount of support shown by our charitable guests and the Charlotte community was incredible.
Speaking as an emerging chain, how important is community involvement to fostering a local-first feel at each restaurant during expansion?
Every Firebirds location maintains a community outreach effort throughout the year. It is vital to our success. We provide local law enforcement and first responders with complimentary meals on Patriot Day and invite current service members and veterans to Dine on Us every Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Before every new restaurant opening we invite community VIPs to a complimentary reception to build relationships before we even open our doors to the public. We invite Hero families (those who face childhood cancer in their own families) to celebrate our new restaurant opening and provide them with meals and gifts. Our local communities are key stakeholders and giving back to them is one of our core values.