Queen Creek Restaurant Week to offer a taste of local fare while helping schools combat teen issues

Rick Jewett and Melissa Holiday are the driving forces behind the inaugural Queen Creek Restaurant Week, Sept. 16-22. Participating eateries will donate a portion of their food sales that week to TeenLink AZ, a nonprofit created by Mr. Jewett to help local schools address youth issues such as teen suicide, bullying and cyberbulling. (Submitted Photo)

A new East Valley event has cooked up a way for diners to eat a meal while a portion of their tab helps fund efforts to address local teen issues.

Queen Creek Restaurant Week will be Sept. 16-22. The participating eight eateries will donate a portion of their food sales from that week to TeenLink AZ, a local nonprofit organization created to help area schools deal with youth problems such as teen suicide, bullying and cyberbullying, according to a press release.

All the restaurants are located in Queen Creek. They are:

  • Bar Viñedo, 7215 S. Power Road;
  • Buddy Z, A Chicago Pizzeria, 18423 E. San Tan Blvd.;
  • Casa de Mina Mexican restaurant, 25728 S. Power Road;
  • Cold Stone Creamery, 7507 S. Power Road;
  • Creek Side Taco Shack, 20401 S. Sossaman Road;
  • Lucky Lou’s American Grill, 23706 S. Power Road;
  • Old Ellsworth Brewing Co., 22005 S. Ellsworth Road;
  • Sushi Creek, 21805 S. Ellsworth Road Suite B103;

Each restaurant determined the percentage of the food sales they will donate and whether they would offer special dishes during the weeklong event, Rick Jewett said.

Mr. Jewett, who created TeenLink AZ earlier this year, helped organize Queen Creek Restaurant Week with local restaurateur Melissa Holiday, whose family owns and operates Bar Viñedo.

“We let the restaurants decide what percentage they would donate back because it had to be a win-win situation for the restaurant owners,” Mr. Jewett said in a prepared statement. “Hopefully, the event will drive people to those restaurants.”

Brian McKean, owner of Old Ellsworth Brewing Co., said he sees Queen Creek Restaurant Week as a way to give back to the community while introducing a new audience to the variety of eateries and menus offered locally.

“We are excited to participate in Queen Creek Restaurant Week to highlight the local flavors Queen Creek has to offer. You no longer have to travel to another ZIP code to enjoy unique, superb food offerings,” he said in a prepared statement.

Mr. McKean is bringing back his Burning Angus Burger for restaurant week. He said the fiery burger is typically his most popular special. It is a hand-formed, Cajun-seasoned Angus beef patty topped with pepper jack cheese, fire bacon, candied jalapeños and chipotle aioli, a release states.

A portion of each Burning Angus Burger sale will be donated to TeenLink AZ, he said.

In addition to food specials, Bar Viñedo will host two events to close the week. The first is a Dueling Pianos performance 8-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. The second is the End of QC Restaurant Week party, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.

The end-of-week party will feature entertainment by deejays Mike Holiday and Demetri 82. It is expected to last past Bar Viñedo’s regular closing time to allow area restaurant employees the opportunity to attend after they close their own eateries, Ms. Holiday, whose sister Sabrina Osterman and family own and operate Sushi Creek, said.

Ms. Holiday said the event “just kind of happened.”

“I was invited to a baseball game and met the woman who organized the Carefree Restaurant Week. We started talking and I thought that’s a small community like Queen Creek. My sister and I grew up in Queen Creek. The next day I received an e-mail from Rick Jewett that mentioned TeenLink and I thought that’s what we should give money to,” Ms. Holiday said.

“Since we’ve been open, Queen Creek has seen a lot of suicides that have deeply affected everyone in this community. I contacted Rick and said, ‘I have this crazy idea (for a restaurant week), what do you think of it?’ Rick volunteered to contact the restaurants since he talks to these people on a daily basis for his publications. He knows these people personally and he did all the legwork.”

Like Mr. McKean, Ms. Holiday believes Queen Creek Restaurant Week is a good way for businesses to give back to the community.

“They believe in the community, they believe in the children, they want to give back. If they can’t participate (in restaurant week), they still want to donate. Many of our vendors and the businesses that hold events at Bar Viñedo have donated prizes that we are using for daily drawings,” she said.

“I have some awesome friends. We’re all just tired of watching the news come out on Facebook overnight about a tragedy. People are very reactive, but have short memories. Someone has to do something else to sustain (the schools’ efforts to help students) throughout the year.”

Bar Viñedo will donate to TeenLink AZ a percentage of all its food sales that week, Ms. Holiday said. In addition to its regular menu, the restaurant will offer five specialty entrees, including confit duck wings, a meat lover’s board and Chilean sea bass.

Local food vendors Peddler’s Produce, Sysco and U.S. Food have donated their products for the five specialty entrees at Bar Viñedo, Ms. Holiday said.

Mr. Jewett has been meeting with administrators from the Queen Creek and Chandler unified school districts to discuss how they and TeenLink AZ can partner in their efforts to deal with teen issues.

“I need them to let me know how to support them. A lot of it is the money issue, so we said, ‘What if there isn’t a money issue? What if we can give you $2,000? What if we found a group of mental health professionals to donate an hour a month to the kids? If they need $500, we’ll earn that $500,” Mr. Jewett said.

One of his ideas is to create a student-led, after-school club, a place to build community and provide resources for the school district, he said.

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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