With the imminent opening of Rooster Soup Company, Philadelphia’s population of philanthropic restaurants hits another high mark. The long-awaited Center City luncheonette is the brainchild of acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov and partner Steven Cook, who’ve collaborated with chef Erin O’Shea to create home-style breakfasts, lunches and suppers to benefit Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative, which provides meals and services to Philadelphians in need. Rooster Soup joins West Philadelphia’s non-profit EAT Café, where guests pay what they wish for dinner four nights a week. The owners of a trio of watering holes (Hawthornes, The Cambridge and Tio Flores) match Philly’s new soda tax with a contribution to a city school. Venerable Philly chefs Jose Garces and Marc Vetri have food-based foundations that make an impact, too.
Here’s the scoop on those in the Philly food scene paying it forward:
- “You have a steak in it!” That’s the motto that drives By George Pizza, Pasta & Cheesesteaks in the Reading Terminal Market. With every cheesesteak sold, owners George and Kim Mickel feed a child in need. By George supports charities that focus their efforts locally (Philabundance’s KidsBites), nationally (Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry) and internationally (King’s Castle’s Feeding Program in El Salvador). 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 829-9391, bygeorgepa.com
- Also at the Reading Terminal Market and run by the same husband-and-wife team as By George, Hunger Burger gets in on the giving with its “buy one, feed one” initiative. For every burger sold, the eatery provides a meal to a child in need through support of the charities listed above. So, the only question is: cheesesteak or cheeseburger? 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-2707, hungerburgerpa.com
- Leave it to Federal Donuts to find a way to turn leftover ingredients from its fried-chicken-and-doughnuts menu to help some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens. Opening January 23, 2017, Rooster Soup Company pairs Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative, which provides meals and services to people in need, with the folks behind Federal Donuts, including James Beard Award-winning restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook and chef Erin O’Shea of Percy Street BBQ. Funded with $180,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, the much-anticipated luncheonette will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and serve Southern breakfasts (biscuits and gravy, grits and eggs), soups made from Federal Donuts’ unused chicken backs, BLTs where latkes sub for lettuce, vegetarian (lentil) sloppy Joes, coconut cream pies and milkshakes. There’s a bar, too. Net profits will support Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative. 1526 Sansom Street, roostersoupcompany.com
- Rosa’s Fresh Pizza is an unassuming pizza spot that has made a big difference in the lives of those with limited to no financial resources. Customers can purchase a $1 slice of pizza for themselves and pay another $1 to underwrite the cost of a slice for someone in need. Those making a donation write a message on a blank Post-It Note, which is then stuck to the shop’s wall. Each day, about 60-80 people cash in a note for a slice. When Ellen DeGeneres heard about owner Mason Wartman’s program, she featured him on her show and surprised him with a $10,000 check. 25 S. 11th Street, (215) 627-6727, rosasfreshpizza.com
Donations Through Dining & Drinking:
- Restaurateurs and Philly parents Heather Annechiarico and Chris Fetfatzes own hip food-and-drink hangouts Hawthornes, The Cambridge and Tio Flores, where they match all payments of the city’s new 1.5-cent-an-ounce soda tax with an equal donation to the Andrew Jackson School, a public elementary school in South Philadelphia. Hawthornes, 738 S. 11th Street, (215) 627-3012, hawthornecafe.com; The Cambridge, 1508 South Street, (267) 455-0647, cambridgeonsouth.com; Tio Flores, 1600 South Street, (267) 687-2220, tioflores.com
- Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has racked up awards for its handcrafted beers and accolades for its creative bar food. With a dozen locations in the Philadelphia area, the mini-chain of brewpubs gives back to its communities. Every time a customer orders a Triple Chocolate Hill dessert, Iron Hill donates $0.75 to the national CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and another $0.75 to a local charity selected by the location’s staff. Plus, local fundraisers can take advantage of the Give 20 program, though which diners using the coupon donate 20% of their food bill to the featured charity of that night. Multiple locations, ironhillbrewery.com
- America’s best beer-drinking city took it up a notch in summer 2016 with Parks on Tap, a family-friendly roving beer garden that visited a different Philly park every week. It’s back for another round in 2017, with more parks, a longer schedule and simultaneous locations. Guests enjoy food, beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, plus games and entertainment, while supporting Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and each of the host parks. parksontap.com
- University of Pennsylvania food truck and on-campus store Schmear It has a triple mission: Serve customizable bagel spreads and other breakfast treats, offer extra-friendly service—and support good causes. Every two weeks, the shop raises awareness and donates a portion of profits to a different local charity. 3601 Market Street (at Filbert Street), (215) 792-3892, schmearit.com
- Those in the mood for sushi and Japanese fare can head to Rittenhouse Square’s Zama to satisfy their cravings—and their souls. Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka regularly partners with Philly chefs and other notable locals to create charity rolls. Recent collaborations: Marc Vetri’s Vetri Roll, benefiting Vetri Community Partnership; Pierre Calmels’ Bibou Roll, supporting The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Michael Solomonov’s Zahav Roll, with proceeds going toward the Police Athletic League. 128 S. 19th Street, (215) 568-1027, zamaphilly.com
Education & Health Initiatives:
- Specialty food retailer and importer Di Bruno Bros. celebrated its 75th birthday in 2014 by raising $75,000 to build the Neighborhood Kitchen at St. James School in North Philadelphia. The facility provides nutritional support to the school’s students—that means on-site lunches and meal deliveries for under-resourced families. As it approaches its 80th year, Di Bruno’s multiple locations continue to support the Neighborhood Kitchen, which also develops programs to engage students in the cooking and serving process, offering them hands-on opportunities to learn about the culinary arts and nutrition. Multiple locations, dibruno.com
- Focusing on the needs of immigrants, Garces Foundation runs programs addressing health, language, cultural skills and nutrition. Each quarter, the foundation hosts Community Health Day, giving uninsured patients free dental care, physicals and medical screenings. “English for the Restaurant and Everyday Living” classes help narrow the language and cultural gap for restaurant workers. Each summer, the foundation hosts Luna Farm Field Trips to chef Jose Garces’ farm, where children grow fruits and vegetables, cook their own healthy lunch from their harvest and engage in fun forms of exercise. The group also supports after-school and summer tutoring programs for children at Southwark School in South Philadelphia. At Garces’ Buena Onda taqueria in the Fairmount neighborhood, $0.50 from every guacamole and bottled water purchase goes to the foundation. Multiple locaitons, garcesfoundation.org
- Not content to rest on the success of his popular restaurant Tequila’s and Siembra Azul, the handcrafted tequila he spent years developing to perfection, David Suro Piñera established the Siembra Azul Foundation. Since 2007, the foundation has supported the efforts of several local and international groups dedicated to providing health care services and educational support such as English-language classes, computers and school supplies, among other projects. Tequila’s, 1602 Locust Street, (215) 546-0181, tequilasphilly.com; foundationsiembraazul.org
- Children at a dozen local schools eat well thanks to Marc Vetri’s Eatiquette initiative. Implemented by Vetri Community Partnership, the program provides students with balanced, from-scratch meals loaded with fruits and vegetables. Serving lunches family-style, the interactive program enlists the students as peer servers and in doing so encourages respectful conversation, teamwork, patience and sharing, as well as basic table-service skills, an awareness of how healthy food makes them feel and other benefits of dining well. vetricommunity.org
New Ways To Pay:
- At West Philadelphia’s EAT Café, guests decide what they can pay for dinner. For real. With a suggested price of $15, full-service, sit-down, healthy dinners consist of soup or salad, an entrée and dessert. EAT stands for “Everyone at the Table” and is a partnership between Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities and Vetri Community Partnership. With a mission to address hunger and unite all members of the community, the non-profit restaurant welcomes everyone for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. 3820 Lancaster Avenue, (267) 292-2768, eatcafe.org
- Tipping the staff at Girard Bruncherie in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood is discouraged, but the staff isn’t complaining. That’s because chef/owner Brian Oliveira pays them an average of $14 an hour, an unheard of sum for servers, as well as paid time off and paid sick days. 300 E. Girard Avenue, (267) 457-2486, girardongirard.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.