The results are in, and the news is good.
Houston Restaurant Weeks, the month-long fundraiser during which diners order special menus from over 200 participating restaurants with a portion of proceeds going to the Houston Food Bank, raised $1,600,162.25 in 2014. That's up from $1,285,260 in 2013.
"The Food Bank wins. Diners win. The restaurants win."
The number is compiled from individual donations made by restaurants who participate in HRW and sponsors. Each participating entity makes a separate donation that contributes to the overall total.
This year's top donor is Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, which contributed $44,177. The Food Bank keeps all donation amounts confidential, but restaurants can disclose them if they wish.
HRW organizer Cleverley Stone heralded the results at a press conference at the Food Bank Wednesday morning. "It's a win, win, win," Stone told the audience that included volunteers and representatives from some of the participating restaurants. "The Food Bank wins. Diners win. The restaurants win."
In all, Stone reports that 290,946 diners ordered HRW meals during the event, 220,445 of which were dinners. While beverage sales are not factored into HRW donations, Stone estimates that diners spent over $16 million during the month on food, drinks, sales tax and tips.
The Food Bank will turn the donation into over 4.8 million meals for people in 18 counties across the Houston area. President/CEO Brian Greene noted that the Food Bank distributes two tractor trailers of fresh produce six days a week, which would not be possible without the HRW donation.
Stone concedes that, as an all-volunteer effort, HRW does not have an ability to verify that restaurants are accurately reporting what they receive. She counts on them to be "pure of heart" and report results accurately.
This year's event ran through Labor Day. When Stone suggested that it might not in 2015 (Labor Day isn't until Sept. 7), participating restaurateurs, including Michael Cordua and Del Frisco's regional general manager Arthur Mooradian, immediately said they would continue HRW for the extra days.
Houston Restaurant Weeks Top 10 Donors:
1. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
3. Américas - River Oaks
4. Brennan's of Houston
5. Mr. Peeples Seafood & Steaks
6. Eddie V's Prime Seafood - West Ave.
7. The Capital Grille - CityCentre
8. Churrascos - River Oaks
9. Churrascos - Sugar Land
10. Churrascos - Memorial City