K&F: Charlottesville restaurants nourish with more than food

On Tuesdays in December, Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar donates 10 percent of the restaurant’s profits to the Ryan White Clinic for AIDS Research. Photo: Virginia Hamrick On Tuesdays in December, Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar donates 10 percent of the restaurant’s profits to the Ryan White Clinic for AIDS Research. Photo: Virginia Hamrick

In a delicious commitment to serving beyond good eats, a few local restaurants are making inedible differences by also serving altruistically. Here’s a sampling of eateries nourishing communities with more than savory fare.

Serving the hungry

Albemarle Baking Co. deserves acknowledgment for its charitable efforts. A true community partner, ABC donated enough bread in 2016 to help make 9,143 meals for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s Holy Comforter location, and enough pastries to supplement 3,421 bags for their food pantry. Co-owners Gerry Newman and Millie Carson say that although ABC has the supply to give to the unfortunate, the credit really goes to the Food Bank for providing the opportunity. Says Newman, “The Food Bank does remarkable work to nourish folks in our area, and we’ve spent the last two decades fortunate enough to help them; we’re thrilled we get to contribute, because everyone deserves their daily bread.”   

Serving the displaced

With its Sunday Yappy Hours, Keswick Vineyards lends a helping paw to stray, abandoned and otherwise displaced animals by inviting several area rescue shelters, including Green Dogs Unleashed and the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA, to connect available animals with adoption-ready families. In addition, a percentage of the tasting room’s sales are given directly to the visiting shelter. Having once owned a wildlife preserve, co-owners Al and Cindy Schornberg say animal compassion is a cause near and dear to their hearts. “What drives our business is both a love for wine and a love for animals, because, after all, Virginia is for lovers,” says Cindy.

Serving science

“Great strides to help people long-term have been made,” says Charles Roumeliotes of HIV/AIDS research. Having seen too many colleagues and friends die from the disease, for the last 10 years, the Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar co-owner has committed 10 percent of the restaurant’s profits on Tuesdays in December to the Ryan White Clinic for AIDS Research. “I see value in supporting HIV/AIDS research, and the families who are dealing with the reality of the disease,” he says. Orzo also hosts fundraisers to raise money to buy gas cards for patients so they can get to their treatments.

Serving education

Mas Tapas owner Tomas Rahal doesn’t think owning a business is just about short-term profit. “It’s also about how we impact our community,” he says. The Belmont restaurant contributes by helping area children. “We’re not special, the kids are. And because no one’s lining up to help them, we do what we can.” Mas donates books and musical instruments to the Clark Elementary School Literacy Program, hosts fundraisers for bilingual education and donates to and is an advocate for the City Schoolyard Garden.

Serving those at risk

Come to Shebeen Pub & Braai for the sosatie, stay for the chance to do something good; when you eat here, you’re contributing to a healthy future for orphans in the rural region of eastern Kenya. The Makindu Children’s Foundation, bankrolled by a percentage of Shebeen’s proceeds and its participation in the Proper Walk (which since 2005 has raised approximately $35,000), funds the nutritional and medical needs of hundreds of destitute at-risk children, and provides access to primary education. Says Shebeen owner and Zimbabwe native Walter Slawski, “I’m grateful that Shebeen can pay it forward to those less fortunate in a community that gave so much to me.”