By Marene Gustin
The El Tiempo and Laurenzo’s restaurants have been participating in Dining Out for Life for five years now. Chef/owner Domenic Laurenzo says, “It is always an honor to help fight the good fight on this one special evening of dining out around the city of Houston, and knowing that we are helping to one day find a cure for AIDS for our local community and around the world.”
This year, AIDS Foundation Houston has set Thursday, April 27, as the date to dine out at some of your favorite restaurants. A portion of that day’s proceeds will go to support AIDS Foundation Houston’s programs and services that help thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS here in the community.
Since 1991, Dining Out for Life has been produced by HIV/AIDS service organizations around the country in order to raise funds for their local communities. Begun by a volunteer at Action Wellness (formerly ActionAIDS) in Philadelphia, Dining Out for Life is now produced in 60 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Houston has been involved in the event since the beginning.
“Last year we raised $50,000, and we’re hoping to do at least that again this year,” says Melody Patelis, AIDS Foundation Houston’s chief development officer. Patelis hopes to have 50 to 55 restaurants participating this year. Restaurants enjoy the promotional benefit that attracts new customers, as well as the informational support that the Foundation provides in terms of their ambassadors who visit with customers at every restaurant on the day of the event.
Many of the restaurants, including Laurenzo’s and Barnaby’s, are long-time supporters of the event, Patelis says. But some are brand-new to the event, like Lucille’s, the Museum District’s Southern comfort-food eatery. Lucille’s executive chef/owner, Chris Williams, explains why he’s joining Dining Out for Life this year: “I was born and raised in Houston and have always loved what a philanthropic city it is. As a local business owner, I think it is important to give back to the community and local charities. Dining Out for Life is a fun, creative way for local restaurants to help AFH raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases.”
And some restaurants are coming back to support the event. Ray Salti, who owned Sorrel Urban Bistro in Upper Kirby, explains, “We had some regular guests who were involved in the organization. They asked us to do it, and I said of course.” Since then, he has rebranded the restaurant as Bollo Woodfired Pizza, so this will be the eatery’s first year to participate in Dining Out for Life.
So why not get a group together and dine out on April 27 for a fun fundraising breakfast, lunch, or dinner? At press time, some 40 restaurants around the city had signed up, including Rainbow Lodge, Reef, El Real Tex-Mex, State Fare Kitchen & Bar, Starfish, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks. You might even find a favorite new dining spot—as well as save a life in the process.
What: Dining Out for Life
When: April 27
Where: Various Houston locations
Details: See aidshelp.org for a list of participating restaurants.
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.