Tempe-based restaurant Ncounter will spend its opening weekend in downtown Phoenix fundraising for Arizona-based food charity, Waste Not.
The grand opening weekend is scheduled for Sept. 22-24, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Ncounter’s newest location at 888 N. First Ave. The restaurant will contribute 15 percent of net proceeds from the event to Waste Not.
The event coincides with National Hunger Action Month, and it kicks off a partnership between Ncounter and Waste Not that was announced Sept. 13 in a press release.
“We always love to partner with people in our communities,” said Daniel Grover, General Manager of the Downtown Phoenix Ncounter. “We just figured that we would get a lot of publicity and we would have a lot of people moving through the restaurant on that grand opening, and we want to use it as an opportunity to give back a little bit as well.”
President and CEO of Waste Not, Dee Mitten, says her organization collects excess perishable food from restaurants, resorts, caterers and grocers and then delivers the same day to more than 100 different agencies and organizations to feed the hungry.
The Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA is one of the organizations benefiting from Waste Not’s perishable food recovery program, according to the YMCA’s Operations Director Mary Davis.
The YMCA runs a downtown housing program which offers support services and transitional housing to men and women in need.
“The Waste Not program has helped many of those residents,” Davis said. “There are some who are trying to get on their feet and they are in a transitional phase in their lives, so some of them may not have the means to be able to (obtain) food.”
Mitten said Waste Not moves as much as 25,000 pounds of food each day, and the organization depends on partnerships with restaurants like Ncounter to get the food needed to supply recipient agencies.
Events like Ncounter’s downtown opening also provides the added benefit of publicity for Waste Not, an organization that is often misperceived as a food bank, Mitten said.
“We do not warehouse food, and we do not overnight it,” Mitten said. “We pick it up directly from the point of donation and deliver it to the recipients that need the food.”
According to Mitten, Waste Not doesn’t receive the same level of exposure as food banks because there aren’t as many opportunities for the community to volunteer or see what the organization does.
“Unless you do a ride-along with one of our drivers, you’re not going to see Waste Not,” Mitten said. “We’re not as well-known because we’re not as visible.”
The partnership announcement also provides exposure for Ncounter at a time when they are looking to open additional locations in metro Phoenix.
According to a statement released by the company, Ncounter plans to continue contributing excess perishable food to Waste Not from the downtown Phoenix and original Tempe locations, as well as a third location that’s due to open later this fall at Scottsdale Airpark.
Ncounter said in a press release the downtown Phoenix location will offer discounts on beverages for the entire weekend. Guests who visit the restaurant on Friday can enter to win two tickets to a Diamondbacks game.
Mitten added the event provides an opportunity to support a nonprofit organization that just makes sense.
“Why let all this food be thrown into the dumpster to go fill up a landfill when you can be feeding hungry people with it,” Mitten said. “It’s an easy concept to understand, and we’re very good at it.”
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