Oct 1, 2018

Wisconsin Restaurants Honored with Restaurant Neighbor Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement

The 75th Street Inn, Cousins Subs, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co, Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club and Shellattes were selected as Wisconsin finalists for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Neighbor Award.

The Wisconsin finalists will be honored at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association board dinner on October 22nd at the Prime Steer Supper Club in Kaukauna.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, developed in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. Created 20 years ago, this award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities.

The 2018 Restaurant Neighbor Award finalists from Wisconsin are:

The 75th Street Inn
Salem, WI

The 75th Street Inn is a community-minded business striving to make their community a better place.  

Mary Beth Van Every, owner of the 75th Street Inn, plays an important role in developing mountain bike trails and supporting a composite mountain bike team that has enhanced the lives of local kids.  The team has had such a positive impact with increased self-confidence and strong minds and bodies.  Trail work days also teach the students about the importance of giving back to the community.  

Van Every also has been tapped to be a trail steward by a combined effort of the South East Wisconsin Trail Alliance and Kenosha County Parks.  As a trail steward, Van Every reports trail conditions and monitors the trails almost daily.

Van Every’s passion for mountain biking and her community has resulted in positive outcomes for area youth, adults and her fellow business operators.  The trail system has had a positive economic impact on the area drawing mountain bikers to the community who patronize local businesses.

The 75st Street Inn is not just a restaurant, it’s a lost and found for the trails, a meeting spot and a support system for the trails which are improving the community every day.  

Cousins Subs
Menomonee Falls, WI 

Cousins Subs is committed to making a difference in the communities they call home and describe themselves as being “local at heart.”  They created the Make It Better Foundation to provide support in three areas: youth education, hunger, and health and wellness. For one of their fundraising campaigns, they teamed up with the Milwaukee Bucks to launch Block Out Hunger, an annual anti-hunger campaign benefiting Hunger Task Force and food pantries around the state. Since the company began, 10,349 pounds of food has been collected and nearly $30,000 has been raised through donations that Cousins made to HTF for every shot the Bucks blocked during their season. 

Another annual campaign is Combos for Cures during which a portion of every combo meal sold goes to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation with an annual goal of $50,000. 
Their third annual campaign is the Wisconsin Sports Award Scholarship Contest for high school senior athletes who also excel in academics and are committed to philanthropy. Hundreds of students apply each year for the $7,500 scholarships. 

The Make it Better Foundation awards quarterly grants to hyperlocal nonprofits. On the local-store level, franchisees are empowered and encouraged to give back to the communities they serve and since 2015 the company matches all employee donations to the Make it Better Foundation.

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co

The Great Dane has built its success by being an involved corporate citizen in the community.  Their community efforts concentrate on local youth-related nonprofit organizations, literacy campaigns, domestic abuse prevention and children’s theater.  

The restaurant group has provided cash donations and sponsorships of over $100,000 annually, plus the vast amount of promotional gift certificates and in-kind donations to area groups and schools.

The Great Dane’s founder, Eliot Butler, was sidetracked from a career in education and psychology to build a brew pub business with five locations and a combined staff of over 500 individuals.  He realized early on that the business had the potential to do amazing things in the community.

Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club 

Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club has been a longtime supporter of the Madison Northside Business Association’s charitable activities. The restaurant hosts one of the organization’s most important annual events, a pancake breakfast held in December which benefits food pantries on Madison’s North side.  The pancake breakfast, which raises approximately $6,000 each year, includes a visit with Santa and gifts for the children.  One year a child told Santa that he did not want a toy for Christmas, all he wanted was some warm gloves.  There is now a fund set up to provide basic items like warm gloves and boots for children.  

Another $4,000 is raised at a similar Easter event featuring a visit from the Easter Bunny.  

In addition to raising funds for the food pantries, the events help to raise awareness of the good work that the food pantries are doing to combat hunger on Madison’s North side.


Shellattés coffee shop has been the heartbeat of the neighborhood since it opened in 2011.  Shelly and Ken Baeten’s vision when they opened Shellattés was to have a coffee shop where everyone would feel comfortable and be able to relax and slow down.  They aspire to be good citizens, provide for their employees, support vendors and most importantly give a hug, a smile and help others with their needs.  

Since Shellattés opened, they been involved in the community through providing donations and volunteering their time. They do not hand pick only certain charities or fundraisers, but rather offer donations to any individual or group. They support both national charities and local ones including Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Hospital and the Girls on the Run after school program.  

Shellattés partners with St. Paul Lutheran church to provide meals to community members in need.  Four to five times a year, Shellattés makes six to seven course meals that are delivered by volunteers to individuals in the community including the elderly, people who are celebrating births, people who are grieving deaths and the homebound.  Through the meal ministry, over 800 meals have been provided to individuals in the community over the last five years.  

With nine in 10 restaurants involved in community service, restaurants are often the first to give back to their communities which improves the quality of life for all they serve.

The national winners – chosen from state awardees by a panel of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders from across the country – were honored at a restaurant and foodservice industry gala awards ceremony in Washington, DC in March.  Wisconsin finalists did not win at the national level this year. Find more information and stories from all winning applicants at www.ChooseRestaurants.org/Awards.

The NRAEF awards program also includes the Faces of Diversity American Dream Award and the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award.

For more information about the Restaurant Neighbor Awards, visit the National Restaurant Association’s website at restaurant.org.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation: As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. For more information on the NRAEF, visit NRAEF.org.

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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the promotion, protection and improvement of the foodservice industry.