Julian Omidi discusses the opening of nonprofit bar/restaurants, where the revenue generated by the sale of drinks and food are donated to various charities.
Marrying fun with good deeds isn’t new; we’ve all heard of altruistic dance-a-thons, walk-a-thons, bake sales and car washes, but when was the last time you ordered a cocktail for charity?
One of the newest philanthropic phenomena is the nonprofit bar. Also called “philanthropubs,” the patrons order their drinks and support worthy causes at the same time.1
It’s a unique charity model. It’s one of the few that doesn’t pair an inherently G-rated activity with charity. It’s quite adult, and it’s also something that generates quite a lot of revenue.
San Francisco is the latest city to open a philanthropub, but these nonprofits have been springing up across the nation for years; Washington D.C., Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia all have charity bars which support diverse causes.
The San Francisco philanthropub will be called “United Libations,” after the group developing it. It plans on donating its proceeds to a fund for teaching English to Haitian orphans and developing a system for collecting rainwater in Uganda. Before the pub settles in a permanent site, it will host “pop up” fundraising events to introduce the concept to San Franciscans and, presumably, iron out any kinks in the project model before the actual philanthropub goes into operation. According to the United Libations mission statement, all of the profits will go to the charities the bar serves.
While some may take issue with this approach it might be an operation that provides a lot of revenue for worthy charities. As any restauranteur will tell you, most of a restaurant’s profits come from the bar – people only order one entrée, but they might (and often do) order one or two cocktails followed by several bottles of wine during the course of an evening. Many nightclubs offer table service, where a full bottle of liqueur is purchased at an outrageously inflated price for a table in a VIP section. If a nonprofit pub can harness this kind of money, then there will be ample opportunity for any number of charities to benefit.
It will be exciting to find out how this model progresses. The philanthropub in Washington D.C.,– Cause – began in late 2012 and seems to be going strong so far. The only issue is the overhead costs, since the liqueur and food likely won’t be donated from the vendors, and there is the matter of rent and operating costs. Nevertheless, if the operations are successful, we may be seeing other such philanthropubs springing up in cities across the U.S.
By Julian Omidi
1Groden, Claire: Proposed San Francisco Bar Pairs Drinking with Charity Time Magazine 6/25/2013 http://style.time.com/2013/06/25/proposed-san-francisco-bar-pairs-drinking-with-philanthropy/