Mission Chinese Serves a Side of Philanthropy with Every Order
December 7, 2012
Restaurant raises $160,000 for the Food Bank through 75-cent per entree fundraiser
At the end of a menu filled with non-traditional takes on Sichuan-inspired dishes, a note reads “we donate 75 cents from each entrée” to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.
In a culinary world notorious for tight margins and high markups, a side dish of philanthropy has proven highly successful for Mission Chinese Food, which is now making headlines with a New York restaurant by the same name. Over the past two years, the original San Francisco location has donated more than $160,000 to the Food Bank.
“We never expected the restaurant to be as popular as it is, or to raise as much money as we have,” said Anthony Myint, who started Mission Chinese Food with Chef Danny Bowien. “But it feels great. While a lot of hunger related programs do great work, we thought the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks represented a great combination of efficiency and scalability.”
Mixing business with charitable giving is an obvious win for the Food Bank — the money donated to date was enough to provide 483,000 meals to hungry people in San Francisco and Marin. But Myint points out that the charitable enterprise is also valuable for employees and customers.
“We think the charitable angle is really important because it helps us all feel good about what we're doing,” Myint says. “It also lets the customer have a kind of anti-consumerist silver lining to their indulgence.”
Myint’s business model reflects the social consciousness of his customers. Years ago, local, sustainable ingredients or biodegradable containers were almost unheard of, but consumer interests have changed. These days, most customers are happy to add a 75 cent charity surcharge to an $11 entrée in the same way they are willing to pay more for fair trade coffee.
“We think businesses can find ways to be successful doing more than just making money for themselves,” Myint says. “Needless to say, our restaurant is not state of the art — it’s just a little hole in the wall. So this sets a great example for what’s possible.”