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Eat Out for Antrim’s Grapevine expands to four local restaurants

  • The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

    The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.

    (Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • The Antrim Grapevine is sponsoring a fundraising event called "Eat Out for the Grapevine" that promotes eating at local restaurants and helps raise money for the Grapevine's programs.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

In an effort to help raise money to support the Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center’s operations, and to promote eating out locally, three new locations have joined the annual Eat Out fundraiser.

Now in its fourth year, Eat Out for the Grapevine has expanded and garnered support from local restaurants in neighboring towns.

The event is the brainchild of Rick Davis, owner of Rick and Diane’s Brick Oven Pizza, who approached the Grapevine’s Executive Director Kristen Vance about three years ago with an idea to raise funds for the organization while promoting his restaurant.

In the past, Rick and Diane’s was the only participant in the event. But recently other local area restaurants have shown interest in participating, according to Vance.

Other local restaurants taking part in the event his year are Common Place Eatery in Bennington, the Hancock Inn and Fiddlehead’s Cafe in Hancock.

. “[Rick Davis] said, ‘I have an idea for a fundraiser,’” Vance recalled in a phone interview on Feb. 12. “Rick and Diane’s has always been a huge supporter of the Grapevine. I loved the idea because it was a win-win situation..”

The way the fundraiser works is unique. On a specific day in March, chosen by the restaurant owners, 20 percent of the restaurant’s gross sales on the designated “Eat out” day go toward the Grapevine. For example, Rick and Diane’s will donate 20 percent of their gross earnings to the Grapevine on March 8.

Common Place Eatery owner Jeff Putnam chose March 16 as the designated “Eat Out” day for his restaurant, because Common Place typically does a big corned beef and cabbage meal on St. Patrick’s Day. But since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, and Common Place is only open for breakfast on Sundays, he decided to make it a Saturday night meal.

“We’re going to do on Saturday a big corned beef and cabbage dinner, and 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Grapevine to help in their cause,” Putnam said in a phone interview Thursday.

Vance said that the growth of this event couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, since state funding to the Grapevine was completely eliminated about a year and a half ago as a result of several health and human services cuts. The Grapevine’s state funding was reduced from about $62,000 to $40,000 prior to those cuts, Vance said, then eliminated all together. She said that last fiscal year was the first time the Grapevine operated at a loss . Another loss is projected for this year as they recoup from those cuts.

The Grapevine, which started in 1996, is a nonprofit organization that promotes family and community health and well-being through support and education. It offers programs for children and their parents as part of play and learn groups. It serves towns in Hillsborough County, with a specific focus on Antrim, Bennington, Hancock, and Francestown.

Vance said that there isn’t really a set amount they’re trying to reach in terms of funds raised, mostly because with four total restaurants participating for the first time, it’s a bit of a trial run. “This is new for us, to do four restaurants,” Vance said. “Rick and Diane’s was able to give us a check for $500 when they did it last year. So that’s sort of a ballpark for us for Rick and Diane’s for this year, but each of the restaurants is different. It would be nice if we got $500 from each, maybe more.”

Davis said he got the idea for this type of fundraiser when he was first approached by the Antrim Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization for a donation . The struggling economy was a concern, so he proposed donating 20 percent of his total receipts on a Friday to the PTO.

“It was a great way to get business in here, and they [the PTO] promoted our name, and we just wrote them out a check the following business day,” Davis said early Saturday morning at Rick and Diane’s. “So then it was in my mind how to do a fundraiser for people. I used to give $500 to $1,000 a year to the Grapevine, and I said to Kristen, ‘I would like to do the same thing with you folks.’ They did a nice job of promoting it, and we worked really hard, brought in extra staff, and had a lot of fun.”

Davis said he usually starts prepping for the event a day in advance, and since Fridays are typically the busiest for Rick and Diane’s there’s a lot of pizza dough to be made.

Rick and Diane’s will lead off the fundraiser on March 8, followed by The Hancock Inn Eat Out day on March 10, Common Place Eatery on March 16 and Fiddlehead’s Cafe on March 21.

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