CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries Franchisees Continue to Get Involved in Their Local Communities
CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries Franchisees Continue to Get Involved in Their Local Communities

CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries’ charitable efforts produce over $1 million in donations annually.

Mark Belanger, President of Global Franchise Development for CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, takes great pride in discussing why the charitable arm of CraftWorks is key to the organization’s success.

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries all fall under the CraftWorks umbrella and together support the CraftWorks Foundation of Charitable Giving. In communities where CraftWorks franchises are located, the foundation aims to impact communities by providing financial assistance in times of crisis and educational resources while also hosting community strengthening actives with nonprofit partners.

Belanger and colleague Dominique Romero, Franchise & Field Marketing Manager for Old Chicago, elaborate on how personalizing experiences for local communities is so important when giving back.

How important is it to give back to your local community as it relates to growing your business?

Belanger: Community engagement is important to growing any business. It is important to establish meaningful relationships in your community and support causes that your staff and guests are passionate about. Crafting and serving our people and communities is core to our values at CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries.

How do you tailor charitable outreach efforts in order to connect with different communities?

Belanger: When we are identifying potential charity partners, we first tap into our team members to find out what causes they are passionate about. If our team members are committed to charity partners, we find that they have more engagement day to day across the board. We also research causes that are important to our guests and our communities.

Have you noticed any trends of franchisees giving back?  

Romero: We are a passionate bunch and love to give back to our communities.  For example, Old Chicago has our Pizza Palz program that helps local non-profit organizations raise more funds.  We also have many stores that participate in “Giveback Nights” where they donate a percentage of their sales to a local non-profit organization or fundraiser.   

What are some top ways to market charity support in different communities?  

Belanger: In regards to charity involvement, we create multiple types of charity partnerships and cater them to our various communities. Keeping charity events simple and easy to execute is key! Something that has worked well for us in multiple markets is giving back or donating a percentage of sales from an agreed upon timeframe to a local organization. Some stores also participate in non-profit events where we are able to donate food or put up a tent to hand out samples in an effort to give back.  Around the holidays, many of our stores partner with a local charity to participate in a Giving Tree where we are able to provide a “holiday experience “ by giving gifts and a meal to a local family. There are infinite ways to give back and support communities, and all of those help grow your business by giving back.

Are there times franchisees will join together to give back?

Romero: Yes, when there’s a franchise group that has more than one Old Chicago in their portfolio, there are times that they will join together to give back to a local organization.

What advice would you give to other franchisees who are just starting their businesses to best set themselves up for success on the local level?  

Belanger: Get involved! Partner with an organization you’re passionate about or that needs help in your local community to craft, serve and give back.

Romero: Serving your local communities is incredibly important! Find an organization that the team at the franchise location is passionate about and see how you can give back, like local food drives, donating money to local schools or parks, volunteering time — anything to get involved.  

What is your favorite part about participating in philanthropic adventures with your franchisees?  

Romero: The feeling that resonates in the store, among the team and in the community after these partnerships or givebacks is encouraging for all parties after the give back is complete.

How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?

Belanger: When you invest in your community, they, in turn, invest in your business. Sometimes it happens guest by guest and sometimes in greater numbers. These relationships take work and are built over time