Dining Out For Life poised for biggest success to date

With around 60 restaurants set to participate and thousands of eager participants making their reservations, Nashville Cares’ eighth annual Dining Out For Life is poised to be the most successful to date.

Begun as a local effort and part of a larger event begun throughout the United States and Canada in 1991, Dining Out For Life has grown from a handful of restaurants and a $16,500 donation to one that is looking to bring in at least $85,000 this April 27, said Susan Kastan, director of marketing and events for Nashville Cares.

“It’s such a beautifully conceived event that it hasn’t needed major changes over time,” Kastan said. “The first year we were terrified it might not work; now we’re having to cap the number of restaurants just to make sure we have enough volunteers on hand at each one to serve their needs that day and evening.”

The event’s success is largely due to the fact that donors are well aware that what they are doing — having a great meal, spending time with friends — is allowing Nashville Cares’ clients to do the same thing, Kastan said.

“One of the things the agency does is help people live healthier lives, and some of that is through food, fellowship and social support,” she said. “People understand that message, and it really drives this event.”

This year’s roster of restaurants includes several who’ve been around since the inception and early years of the event, with plenty of new locations signing on even as the economy takes a toll on their business.

“Our restaurants really stick with us, and we are so grateful,” Kastan said. “We have Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, the former Red, which will be donating 100 percent of their profits that day, while Kalamatas’ two locations give 75 percent of their take, and Rumba Rum Bar & Satay Grill is giving 60 percent.”

All told, 15 restaurants are giving 50 percent, while most are pledging what Kastan says is a “very generous” 30 percent of the day’s proceeds. Diners also will be able to make personal contributions through donor envelopes at each location, and by doing so will be entered into a drawing for two tickets donated by Southwest Airlines.

In addition to Southwest, other sponsors include Nashville Pharmacy Services, which has upped its participation to the presenting-sponsor level, as well as returning supporters Dr. Harvey Latimer, DDS, Beacon Federal Bank, Ashley Furniture Homestore and Wal-Mart.

And at the same time, community groups such as the Human Rights Coalition’s Nashville chapter and the Nashville Grizzlies also are acting as hosts at different eateries during the evening, adding another level of support.

“Mad Donna’s and the Lipstick Lounge are doing parties for us later than evening, so it just continues to grow,” Kastan said. “These restaurants work so hard to serve a lot of people on a very busy day and night so beautifully, and the community really keeps coming back to do, and to give, more. It’s just a wonderful event.”


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