Have your cake and eat it too

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

Af­ter feast­ing on duck breast with carrot and chervil or fish with cala­mari and peas, Mered­ith’s restau­rant din­ers can also do their bit for char­ity.

The Mt Eden eatery is tak­ing part in DineAid, where cus­tomers can opt to add an ex­tra $2 to their bill through­out Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Around 150 restau­rants around the coun­try have signed up to the pro­gramme, set up by chef Mark Gre­gory, with pro­ceeds go­ing to lo­cal char­i­ties.

Mr Gre­gory, who spent 18 years as a top chef in Bri­tain, based DineAid on a sim­i­lar pro­gramme in the UK called Streets­mart.

Mered­ith’s owner Michael Mered­ith had no hes­i­ta­tion in sign­ing up when he heard the money would ben­e­fit lo­cal char­i­ties.

They in­clude Kidz First, the Auck­land City Mis­sion and the Foun­da­tion For Youth De­vel­op­ment.

“The com­mu­nity in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try should give some­thing back,” Mr Mered­ith says.

“A lot of restau­rants see it as a no-brainer.”

His restau­rant has also been in­volved with the Tap Project, which saw $1 added to bills to sup­port the in­stal­la­tion of clean wa­ter sup­plies around the world. So far Mr Mered­ith says cus­tomers have re­acted well to do­nat­ing money to DineAid.

“Every­one can af­ford $2. I’ll pay it if I have to.”

Mr Gre­gory has also had good feed­back from other restau­rants, with “less than 1 per­cent” of peo­ple re­fus­ing to do­nate the money.

He says DineAid works well for sev­eral rea­sons. “It’s only $2 per ta­ble so if there’s 10 peo­ple on a ta­ble that’s 20 cents each. And around Christ­mas it’s nice to feel that you’re giv­ing some­thing dur­ing the sea­son of good­will.”

Cor­po­rate spon­sors are meet­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion costs, which al­lows all the money do­nated to reach the char­i­ties. Since 1998 Streets­mart has raised $9 mil­lion for char­i­ties in the UK.

Mr Gre­gory es­ti­mates around $150,000 could be raised from the first year of the scheme and hopes that num­ber will in­crease if more restau­rants take part next year.

For a list of all restau­rants tak­ing part in DineAid, visit www.dineaid.org.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Com­mu­nity minded: Restau­ra­teur Michael Mered­ith has signed up to the DineAid pro­gramme, which sees pa­trons chose to pay an ex­tra $2 for char­ity.

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