Side Dishes: Local restaurants donate to relief efforts
They can’t send food directly to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, but a slew of local restaurants are banding together to turn their dishes into dollars for the relief effort.
“I was watching ‘60 Minutes’ last week,” says Leunig’s Bistro  co-owner Robert Fuller. “It had some pretty disturbing images … What came to me is that Leunig’s should do a fundraising night.” He and co-owner Bob Conlon decided to split 20 percent of their February 6 proceeds among a trio of charitable organizations: the Red Cross , Partners in Health  and Pure Water for the World .
But the philanthropist realized he didn’t have to stop with his own eatery. “I thought, Why not get as many businesspeople as possible downtown?” says Fuller.
So far nearly 20 restaurants have signed on, including The Windjammer Restaurant and Upper Deck Pub , The Scuffer Steak & Ale House , L’Amante  and American Flatbread Burlington Hearth . All the local Flatbread locations also did a “benefit bake” event for Haiti last Friday. Each restaurant will determine what percentage of its proceeds to donate.
Fuller and co. aren’t the only ones finding creative ways to help out. For an entire month, The Skinny Pancake  in Burlington and Montpelier will sell special Haitian-themed crêpes and donate 10 percent of the proceeds. “We’ll use as many local ingredients as possible,” notes owner Benjy Adler. “It’s eating locally and thinking globally.”
This week’s island crêpe will feature rice, beans, hot peppers, onions and garlic rolled in a local corn wrap.
This Friday, Pastabilities  in Williston will sling as many as 200 16-inch pizzas and give away 100 percent of the profits. “We’ve got volunteers who’ve signed up to make pizzas for free,” notes owner Dan Roscioli. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or until they run out of fixings.
Last Saturday, City Market  raised $1067 on its first Haiti Relief Day, and decided to opt for a repeat performance — or three. They’ll take place on January 30 and February 6 and 13, and 1 percent of sales will be donated.