For a restaurant in this economy, full tables are good tables — even at a discount.
Alan Kugler is the general manager of Bob Evans, on Palm Coast Parkway, near Interstate 95. He said he has a steady stream of new customers, thanks to his nonprofit fundraiser program.
Here’s how it works: An organization registers with the restaurant, and Bob Evans creates a flier. The organization then distributes the flier to its members and their friends and family (free advertising for Bob Evans). Anyone who comes in with the flier and eats at the restaurant on a designated day has the pleasure of knowing 15% of the bill will be donated back to the organization.
“I’ve gotten phone calls and letters, folks stopping in, telling us how much they appreciated what we did for their organizations,” Kugler said. “A lot of thank-yous and positive feedback.”
In the fiscal year ending April 2010, the restaurant had about 40 organizations take them up on the offer a total of 53 times (some do it two or four times per year).
One of the most successful organizations (Kugler is not allowed to divulge names) brought in 67 fliers for one fundraiser. The organization was happy because it netted more than $250. Bob Evans was happy, too.
Those fliers translated to 67 tables of two or four people — let’s call it 150 meals — and according to Kugler, about 75% of those customers were new to the restaurant.
In all, last year Bob Evans donated more than $4,400 back to Flagler County organizations. That means Bob Evans did nearly $30,000 in sales in the same period — all generated by the discount fliers for nonprofits.
“It builds a sense of brand loyalty,” Kugler said. “Bob Evans is really big on a sense of family and tradition, and we just try to live that through doing the right thing and giving back.”
Kugler said he’s proud of the $4,400, and he hopes to expand.
“Being a good business neighbor to the community and building a relationship with our guests and their families and the community — it’s just the right thing to do, especially during these times,” he said. “Every little bit means a lot to some folks.”
Jeannie Fontana, of the Elks Club, said Kugler has gone out of his way to help the club, as well as to promote other causes.
“There was a tree in the dermatologist’s office with names of seniors on them,” Fontana said via e-mail. “We started out with one, and when Alan went to drop off the gift, there were still names on the tree, and he took all of them. He did not want them to not have gifts on Christmas morning. (He) truly likes to help make the world a better place.”
— Brian McMillan