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Paul Bulau's Insight on Community Engagement: How Restaurants Are Supporting Local Causes

Businesses nationwide are investing in more than just their bottom line. In particular, restaurants have become more creative in how they engage their local communities. Culinary entrepreneur Paul Bulau is no stranger to the industry. Here, he explains how restaurants are making a difference by supporting local causes.

Fundraisers and Special Events

According to Bulau, fundraising events are among the most common ways restaurants support local causes and organizations. "Fundraising is a way to offer support at the hyper-local level," he explains. "Restaurant owners can organize events that feed revenue back into the community, whether it be through local youth or healthcare organizations."

What does a fundraiser look like for a local restaurant? It's different for every business, but a restaurant might, for example, have a night where 10% of every purchase goes to support a local youth sports program. Fundraisers are a great opportunity to spotlight the community's needs while providing welcome material support.

Fundraising Programs

Apart from fundraising events, some restaurants distribute products to the community through extended fundraising programs. "These programs work almost like a charitable version of a restaurant franchise," explains Paul Bulau. "Kids are given the opportunity to sell products from local restaurants and keep a portion of the profits to benefit their organization."

This model works best for certain types of businesses. Bakeries or pizza parlors can allow youth organizations to sell boxes of their products or even meal kits. While these fundraising programs only operate for a limited time, they can provide greater community distribution than an in-person event at the restaurant itself.

Committing to Local Initiatives

Many communities have organizations of business leaders who share a commitment to a common event or cause. Restaurants can participate in these events or find ways to support short-term causes and community programs.

For example, some entrepreneurs encourage their employees to participate in Habitat for Humanity or other charitable initiatives. This allows restaurants to participate in specific local events that benefit underprivileged community members or provide assistance with cleanup or beautification projects.

Sourcing Ingredients Locally

Food business owners have a unique opportunity to support their community through the very ingredients they use. By sourcing ingredients locally, business leaders can support local growers and farmers. While this isn't a "cause" in the traditional sense, it's a practice that will benefit your local community immensely.

"Local sourcing will also reduce your carbon footprint," says Paul Bulau. "The more local ingredients you use, the less transportation you'll need to assemble your meals." That's good news for local food growers, as well as for the environment.

Supporting Your Community While Building Your Brand

Paul Bulau recognizes that businesses are taking on a more significant role in supporting their communities, and restaurants are no exception.

While community involvement is a reward in itself, restaurateurs may also discover that having a local impact allows them to build their brands and develop positive relationships between their restaurants and the surrounding community.

About Paul Bulau

Paul Bulau is a culinary entrepreneur, business founder, and company owner/operator. After earning a degree in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Paul launched, grew, and sold his first business. For the past 25 years, Paul has served in several management roles with a premier, on-site restaurant company.



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