A record $75,000 was raised during the sixth annual Dining Out for Life benefit for Nashville CARES, with some 60 restaurants donating at least 30 percent of food sales on April 29. Last year’s event raised $70,000.

Red Restaurant, which gave 100 percent of food sales from two days (a Sunday brunch and a Tuesday night buffet), raised $7,500, making it the top restaurant contributor.

David Taylor, co-owner of Red Restaurant, said hundreds of diners made the donation possible, and that the two days were two of the busiest days the restaurant had experienced.

“I think we are all still a little tired from the work that went into that event,” Taylor said. “The Red crew did a super job, and the community was wonderful in supporting us.”

Red’s achievement marked a new phase in a friendly rivalry with Germantown Café which held first-place honors for several years running, and this year ran a close second contributing 105% of food sales.

The event drew out more than 4,000 diners, 400 individual contributors, 100 volunteer hosts, 13 event sponsors, along with countless hours from restaurant employees.

“All the restaurants basically work for Nashville CARES during Dining Out for Life,” explained Susan Kastan, director of development for Nashville Cares. “We can’t thank the owners, managers and staff enough for all the things they do for the cause of HIV prevention and to make it possible for CARES to provide supportive services for people living with HIV or AIDS locally.”

It was an event that brought out the GLBT community. Several members of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce (including president John Wade) were spotted at Red for brunch. Several Chamber members gave their time as volunteer hosts, including Suzanne Bradford at The Yellow Porch; Gary Gaston at radius10; Rick Harris at Acorn; and Linus Catignani at Mambu. 

Mambu, which this year gave 50 percent of food sales (combined with the business Catignani brought in), made a contribution from Mambu that was two-and-a-half times larger than the gift they made last year.

Rob Sikorski and the Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee hosted and dined downtown at Sole Mio (another 50 percent contributor making a larger gift this year than last). 

Some members from the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine program hosted and dined at The Frothy Monkey for lunch on April 29.

Jonda Valentine and Christa Suppan of the Lipstick Lounge did the volunteer honors for Rafferty’s at 100 Oaks, which also contributed a generous portion more than last year to Nashville CARES. 

Some of Nashville's gay rugby team, the Nashville Grizzlies dined at Gerst Haus in East Nashville, where along with another highly motivated group of neighborhood volunteers, they helped the restaurant increase its donation fourfold.

The choral group Nashville in Harmony took a group outing to Monell’s at Franklin’s Historic Jail, a restaurant they invited to participate for the first time and whose owner returned the favor by contributing more to Nashville CARES than he’d originally pledged.

“Space doesn’t permit listing every donor or volunteer here, but Nashville CARES will report more details in its periodic newsletter, and meanwhile check www.nashvillecares.org for selected photos,” Kastan said.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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