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Drinking For A Good Cause

"Charity Saloons" offer a new business model that gives back to the community - with surprsing success.

by
Chris Queen

Bio

December 24, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Drinks

On the surface, the Original OKRA Charity Saloon may look like a typical bar, with patrons eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. But the Houston bar is remarkably different in that its owners donate all of its profits to charitable organizations. Every month, four charities compete for the funds, and customers choose the winner.

By the end of the year, Original OKRA Charity Saloon will have donated about $300,000 to a dozen different charities – three times the owners’ expectations.

“It was a good year. It’s pretty amazing,” said Mike Criss, the bar’s general manager. “It’s just the community coming together.”

The charity saloon is one of several bars around the country using that business model as a way to give back. There are similar bars or concepts in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore.

[...]

The Oregon Public House, a similar bar in Portland, has also had success — donating more than $15,000 to charities in its first six months of operation.

“I believe in this model, not just for us but for my city, for our state, for our country,” said Ryan Saari, director of The Oregon Public House’s board. “I think there is a lot of good that could be done, stepping outside of the box a little bit in terms of how we support and fund our nonprofits.”

Proceeds from Original OKRA have benefited organizations for the homeless, as well as a group that reaches out to veterans. Owners and customers alike get to see the good they achieve right in their own communities – an idea that may spread to other cities.

Criss and Saari said they believe charity bars will be embraced by other communities. They’ve already received calls from people in Canada, England, France and India interested in the concept.

“We never thought it would be this big, where it is right now,” Criss said. “I’m still amazed.”

Bars that do good for their community? I’m sure plenty of people would drink to that.

*****

This post contains an image from ShutterStock.

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered office manager for an IT managed services provider, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.

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