GOOD

Closed on Mondays Uses a Restaurant's Down Time to Cook Up Funds for the Community

A new kind of pop-up eatery opens in restaurants on the night that they've closed to the public, and raises money for local food groups.


Today is Monday, and that means it's a night off for much of the restaurant world. But for a group of Los Angeles friends, all those vacant kitchens represented a resource: fully-equipped spaces to host fundraising dinners for causes they loved. Closed on Mondays was launched a few months ago at the Los Angeles restaurant Canelé to put those unused stoves to good work.

After volunteering for various causes, friends Savita Ostendorf, Aliza Miner, and Marjory Garrison (pictured above) realized they could do more by combining their skills. Miner is the brunch chef at Canelé, Ostendorf is a graphic designer, and Garrison works on PR campaigns for national nonprofits like Save Darfur. Together, they were like a functioning restaurant without a home. They approached the owner of Canelé with the idea to use the restaurant space when it was closed to the public, and she enthusiastically agreed.


Each Closed on Mondays dinner is $35 and is organized around a loose theme; a recent meal featured three Mexican-inspired courses with dishes like Yucatan pulled pork and included homemade tortillas made to order. After covering their costs, they've made $7,000 over three dinners. It's not a huge amount yet, acknowledges Garrison, but it was enough to help their first beneficiary, Micheltorena School Garden, fund its community-school partnership that recently opened in the nearby neighborhood of Silver Lake.


Although members of the nonprofits always attend the dinners, these aren't pitch sessions for their causes. "No one's going to give a speech," says Garrison. "We just want people to come and eat." However, attendees will likely walk away with a token of appreciation from the nonprofit, she notes. The Milagro Allegro Community Garden recently provided seedlings for all attendees. Closed on Mondays also likes the idea of having those who are benefitting from the dinner take part in the experience of cooking it. For a dinner to benefit RootDown LA, a nonprofit that engages high school students in growing and preparing their own food to prevent obesity, Closed on Mondays hosted the students in the kitchen, where they made lemon curd and onion confiture that was served at the dinner itself.

While the idea of holding a fundraising dinner isn't new, using an established and supportive restaurant space has myriad benefits. Canelé's waitstaff, dishwashers, and cleaning staff get to pick up another shift; the restaurant gets to use leftovers, like the red butter lettuce left behind after the last dinner; and the event organizers don't have to worry about securing and preparing a new space each time. The Closed on Mondays trio also serves Canelé's beer and wine, and lets the restaurant keep the cash. "Everybody profits," says Miner.

After just three dinners, other L.A. chefs have approached Closed on Mondays about bringing the concept to their restaurants. But it's a simple enough idea that anyone could try it. One could even see these becoming a movement, with little pop-up fundraisers happening all over the city. Maybe even the country. Soon Monday could be the biggest restaurant night of the week.

Closed on Monday's next dinner is April 4 for the Garden School Foundation. There are no reservations; dinners are first-come, first-serve. Details here.

Live in Los Angeles? Join GOOD LA and we'll introduce you to more people, places, projects, and events that are making Los Angeles work. Sign up here.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter and RealTargetTori / Twitter

Last Friday, GOOD reported on an infuriating incident that went down at a Massachusetts Target.

A Target manager who's come to be known as "Target Tori," was harassed by Twitter troll David Leavitt for not selling him an $89 Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for a penny.

He describes himself as a "multimedia journalist who has worked for CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and others."

Keep Reading
Communities
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business
via Haldean Brown / Flickr

In a typical work day, people who smoke take more breaks than those who do not. Every few hours they pop outside to have a smoke and usually take a coworker with them.

Don Bryden, Managing director at KCJ Training and Employment Solutions in Swindon, England, thinks that nonsmokers and smokers should be treated equally, so he's giving those who refrain from smoking four extra days to compensate.

Funny enough, Bryden is a smoker himself.

Keep Reading
Health