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Mission Street Food: The Non-Profit Restaurant

mission street foodSome restaurant owners may feel sometimes like they’re running a not-for-profit restaurant, especially after last year, but for most the intention has always been to create a successful and profitable business.

That’s not the case at Mission Street Food in San Francisco, where a couple of ambitious restaurateurs are trying to raise enough money to launch a mostly non-profit restaurant.  They’re asking for 100 $500 donors to get off the ground.  Each donor would be considered an “investor” and receive a reasonable dividend each year from the profits made by the restaurant.  After salaries and expenses, however, the rest of Mission Street Food’s profits would go to charity.

The idea for Mission Street Food grew out of a program held at the Lung Shan Chinese restaurant on Mission Street in San Francisco.  Every Thursday and Saturday a volunteer chef from the area donated a night’s worth of cuisine to patrons and donated the profits to charity.  Soon organizers of the event started thinking: why not have a full time restaurant?

After Mission Street secures seed money, they plan to purchase a space for the restaurant in the San Francisco area and begin operations, with the goal of generating between $40,000 and $90,000 for local charities in their first year of business.

If the twice-a-week event that gave birth to this idea is any indication, Mission Street shouldn’t have any problems meeting their goals if they can get off the ground.  Lung Shan is routinely packed with diners happy to enjoy a special night of unique cuisine while donating to charity at the same time.

While you may not be going the full Mission Street just yet with your restaurant, that doesn’t mean there’s not an important lesson to learn from their success.  Sponsoring a charity event at your restaurant is a great way to give back to your community, get some great PR going for your business, and feel good about yourself all at the same time.  The possibilities are endless, and I guarantee you’ll gain a lot of respect and customer loyalty for your restaurant if you take the time to host Mission Street style event.

For those of you who are interested, you can donate to Mission Street Food here.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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