Filling a Need While Filling Seats

The idea for an online portal designed to help customers book charity events or fundraisers at participating restaurants in their area was sparked after a Tampa, FL restaurateur came to the rescue of local people in need.

Ryan Gougeon, founder of Restaurant Raise told Modern Restaurant Management that a local college student and her boyfriend were in a car accident while visiting family in Cuba. The female half of the couple needed to get an air ambulance from Havana to Miami. Gougeon used his social media outreach to collect funds and offered to match donations with a gift card at his restaurant, James Joyce Irish Pub & Eatery.

“We had a great turn out, and the family even came on our Facebook page to thank us. In addition, we were already getting requests from large groups, some of them charity groups, and felt the need to have a party booking system to manage the increasing amount of bookings.”

Being many restaurants experience midweek slumps, he thought of a way to fill seats while offering non-profits and others willing venues for their events. Participating restaurant or bar owners receive booking requests through a branded portal and are able to choose exactly what percentage of their sales from the booking that they will give to the charity.

 To Gougeon, it’s a win-win value proposition.

“The restaurant books more large parties and the charity or cause gets more exposure and raises funds. Typically, 15-20 percent of sales the restaurant gives back in the form of a check to the charity or cause of the group’s choice. The bigger the group, the more they spend, the more money is raised.”

While designed to help restaurant and bar owner boost sales and charities to raise fund, Restaurant Raise also offers business owners an opportunity to become more involved in their communities.

“Our mission is for everyone to win with Restaurant Raise: The charity gets to raise awareness for their cause and raise funds; The restaurant gets to book large parties; and drive new customers in their doors,” said Gougeon. “All in all, it’s about giving back to the community and giving back. I feel it isn’t enough to just serve a great product anymore- you need to be involved with, and care about those in your community.”