Isn’t it a good feeling when you participate in something that supports charitable events? And we certainly have plenty to choose from on the Central Coast every month. Nevertheless, it’s rewarding to know that a portion of the tickets sales, or money bid on and won for auction lots, can do so much to help a great cause. The annual event Eat Out Save Lives by the SLO County AIDS Support Network (ASN) is a charity I have supported for several years. But one thing I didn’t quite realize was just how much it benefits those who are in need. After speaking with restaurateur Charles Myers, founder and owner of the wildly popular Big Sky in SLO, I had a better appreciation of this excellent charity that takes place during the season of giving when every dollar they receive means so much.
- PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
- A TASTY WAY TO GIVE : Join Charles Myers at Big Sky for a great meal and a great cause.
Having been a part of Eat Out Save Lives since its inception more than a decade ago, Myers doesn’t just recommend that we eat at Big Sky. He recommends visiting the new restaurants in SLO County that are participating, too.
“This is a nice synergistic type of event,” Myers explained. “I’m glad they changed it to Fridays as it’s always so busy in our restaurant.”
Each participating restaurant provides a percentage of every check served to their customers for the entire day. And that’s whether you stop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or simply to enjoy a glass of wine and an appetizer; it’s a huge help for ASN: “This event helps people who are HIV positive, and those relying on Food Stamps to buy food. With this program, they don’t have to live in abject poverty.”
Among the new restaurants that have joined this fundraiser is the Wild Donkey Café, which is participating for the second year in a row. It’s owned and operated by George and Kay Kartsioukas, who previously owned and managed a restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“This is a wonderful event as it’s a very worthwhile cause,” Kay pointed out. “We were in the San Francisco restaurant business for many years, and during that time we lost many employees as well as customers to AIDS. There are so many organizations that need help, so we try to do our best to help all that we can.”
You can also view the list of 24 restaurants helping ASN this year, and it provides links to the restaurants’ webpages at asn.org. The ASN, a United Way Partner Agency, was founded in 1984 by a small group of SLO County residents as a grassroots response to the AIDS pandemic. A nonprofit organization, it provides support to residents living with HIV and AIDS, as well as their family and their friends. They improve the quality of life and dependence of their clients on an individual basis.
The ASN relies on a large pool of dedicated volunteers who coordinate client services and fundraising events, and they work with other nonprofits in the community. There is another way you can help ASN: Donate pantry items they so desperately need refilled. Visit their website to read the list of foods in demand year round, such as canned meats, peanut butter, soups, juices, cereal, pasta, rice mixes, and coffee or tea. Don’t forget personal toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, Kleenex, and more.
As ASN notes on its website, remember that there are multiple times a day you can participate: Try breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and a late-night snack. To longtime supporters and newcomers alike, these restaurants do so much to help ASN, so let’s do our part by joining friends and/or family to dine at these participating restaurants.
Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at email@example.com.