Vancouver restaurants give back to the community

On this year’s Golden Plates ballot, we asked readers to tell us about a restaurant that gives back to the community.

One thing’s for sure: from March 25th's Dining Out for Life—on which over 200 restaurants donated 25 percent of their food revenue to nonprofits A Loving Spoonful and Friends for Life—to the year-round efforts by many, there’s no shortage of restaurants in the Lower Mainland working to better their communities. It's happening through monetary and food donations to local organizations, greening their own businesses, and hosting neighborhood events.

Vegan and vegetarian eatery Bandidas Taqueria on the Drive not only makes everything on its menu in-house, it also puts the staff to work on the streets, picking up produce and restaurant supplies by bike (as well as trailers from Cargo Cult Messengers). The car-free business also uses compostable packaging and encourages customers to bring their own cups for coffee to go.

Rhizome Café serves a dose of social justice with its fair-trade coffee. The East Van restaurant is a community hub; in the span of a month, one can expect film screenings, trivia nights, dance parties, poetry readings, and political presentations, as well as a relatively new event, the Rhizome Free Store, which promotes sharing and free exchange of different items—depending on the month’s theme—from clothes to kitchen appliances. The queer-inclusive space also offers its Lentils Are Everything stew on a pay-as-you-feel honour system.

A by-donation lentil dish is also available from Radha Yoga & Eatery, the sometimes raw vegan restaurant, sometimes yoga studio housed in a heritage building recently retrofitted with solar light tubes, dimmable LEDs and compact fluorescents, and a green roof. Radha regularly offers workshops and classes on sustainable living and eating seasonally, too.

When thinking of altruistic restaurants, perhaps the Elbow Room, best known for its abusive service, doesn’t come to mind. But the downtown breakfast spot has given more than $60,000—collected from customers who don’t finish all the food on their plates—to A Loving Spoonful, an organization providing free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in Greater Vancouver.

The Whip Restaurant and Gallery regularly hosts fundraisers and organizes benefits for the local community, including its annual Show & Shine vintage car showcase with funds going to Camp Goodtimes and a recent event that raised money for the former staff of Slickity Jim’s Chat ’N Chew, left unemployed after the Main Street eatery burnt down last November.

Looking for a specific night to splurge on a meal out? Every Tuesday night, the completely carbon-neutral Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company donates 10 percent of its sales to local community projects, such as Lions Gate Montessori Fundraiser and Inland Refugee Society of B.C. Likewise, Bistrot Bistro supports a different nonprofit each week on Karma Tuesdays. If brunch is more your thing, head on over the La Brasserie the first Sunday of the month when 20 percent of food revenue and $5 from each glass of champagne are donated to charity.

That’s just a sampling of some of the responses we received. If we left out a restaurant you think deserves some recognition for its contributions to the local community, leave some love in the comments below.