Feed Love: Power social change with your appetite at these 10 SF restaurants

By Marcia Gagliardi

4505 team at City Slicker Farms

San Francisco has always been known as a forward-thinking city, so it’s no surprise that the restaurants here are especially attuned to the needs of the community. When your business is feeding people, you can’t help but see how everything fits together—or what areas in the community could use a helping hand. Here are 10 San Francisco restaurants that help feed love by fostering community, positivity, and peace through charity programs—like helping people rebuild their lives, donating money to public schools, and acting on their dedication to environmental conservation.

Patxi’s Pizza
With locations all over the West Coast, this family-friendly deep-dish pizza operation achieves the admirable goal of giving nearly 1 percent of its revenue to nonprofits, as the basis of their 52 Weeks of Giving program. Every week, diners who come in Monday through Wednesday (excluding holidays) should know 10 percent of total sales (excluding alcohol, catering sales, and taxes) are donated to a nonprofit organization. The program focuses primarily on local organizations that are dedicated to education and children’s health and welfare—so far they’ve raised over $700,000.

Mission Chinese Food
Diners at this popular and spice-lovin’ spot should know that for every entrée you order, 75 cents is donated to the San Francisco Food Bank. To date, they have raised more than $380,000, which translates into 1.1 million meals. It’s an exceedingly generous gesture, considering how slim restaurant margins are, but on top of that, for every red meat dish ordered, 25 cents is donated to Zero Footprint, in order to certify Mission Chinese Food as a carbon-neutral restaurant.

4505 Meats and 4505 Burgers & BBQ
Besides serving one of the best damn cheeseburgers (hey, the menu says so!) at their 4505 Burgers & BBQ shop and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market stand, the 4505’ers also have a charity program, Feed the Pig, to give back even more to the city they love. Every year, 4505 will choose six nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to the health and/or education of children and families, especially through food. (Organizations can apply to be considered.) Then, for two months, 4505 will promote the nonprofit by displaying signage at their shop and stand that invites guests to make a donation at the cash register. The last Monday of each month during the partnership is designated as a celebration night, when 4505 will donate five percent of net sales. Follow 4505 on Twitter and Instagram and Feed the Pig on Instagram to keep up on Feed the Pig announcements.

This enterprising bakery and café in Hayes Valley provides much-needed employment opportunities for at-risk, homeless, and/or disabled individuals, helping them get a paycheck, training, and inspiration. The program is an offshoot of the Toolworks program, which provides janitorial services, though in this setting many participants develop baking skills as well. The maple-bacon cinnamon roll is the must-get Bakeworks signature item, but savory fans shouldn’t miss the egg biscuit, a cornmeal-jalapeño biscuit with a baked egg and cheese inside. You can also show your support by grabbing a cup of Four Barrel Coffee, and Bakeworks offers catering as well.

The Perennial
It’s hard to think of a restaurant more dedicated to the environment than this revolutionary SoMa spot, run by partners Anthony Myint (Mission Chinese Food), Karen Leibowitz, and chef Chris Kiyuna. Their goal is to reverse climate change, and they’ve thought about every touchpoint and component in more detail than we can even fathom, from using agricultural products that support carbon farming (like Stemple Creek Ranch whole beef and lamb and Kernza grain from The Land Institute for their bread), to maintaining an offsite aquaponics system to grow their plants. Read up on some of the many details at their website. It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see how committed the team is to creating a fully conscious restaurant that fights climate change through food, with a keen awareness of everything from food waste to water conservation.

Crossroads Café
One of San Francisco’s very admirable social enterprises is Crossroads Café, a part of the Delancey Street Foundation that employs Delancey residents who are trying to rebuild their lives. While many locals love the SoMa café for its H&H Bagels flown in from New York—as well as the coffee, sandwiches, salads, magazine stand, and sunny garden—they may not know the café is a training school for Delancey residents, whether in the kitchen or as a cashier, with proceeds helping to fund Delancey’s residential educational center and many self-help programs (which are free to residents). Much of the café was hand-built by residents too.

Old Skool Cafe
This youth-run Bayview/Hunter’s Point restaurant is all about helping the at-risk break the cycle of incarceration, and was opened by a former juvenile correction officer, Teresa Goines, in 2012. The kids and young adults involved range from the age of 16 to 22, and all learn valuable restaurant skills, from running the front of house and serving to working in the kitchen. Dinner at the jazz-themed restaurant is served Thursday through Saturday, and diners get to enjoy a menu of international soul food that includes fried chicken and West African peanut butter stew, plus a sweet potato tartlet, in addition to the live entertainment. Old Skool currently employs 25 students, and as of 2014, the recidivism rate is just 10 percent, in comparison to the national rate of 76 percent (according to Bureau of Justice Statistics).

This Mission favorite donates $10 to nonprofit charities from every $80 tasting menu sold by chef Jason Fox. The beneficiary changes every two weeks, ranging from Project Open Hand to the SPCA; to date, they’ve raised more than $300,000. To top it off, this is one of SF’s most underrated restaurants, so definitely check it out.

Stones Throw
This Russian Hill neighborhood restaurant has a unique event series that is currently raising funds for Old Skool Cafe in Bayview. Once a month is “Eat Like a Chef, Drink Like a Somm”—where guest chefs and sommeliers donate their time for the evening, offering a five-course prix-fixe menu for $60, with wine pairings which are also $60 (or guests can just order off of Stones Throws’ excellent wine and beer list). And we’re talking about top names, like Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions, and Pim Techamuanvivit of Kin Khao. Join the Stones Throw mailing list to keep up on things.

This local group of taco-centric Mexican restaurants is dedicated to giving back to San Francisco public schools—the children of owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran attend public schools, so they are keenly aware of how much schools benefit from any financial assistance. Since launching the Tacolicious School Project in 2012, each of their three San Francisco Tacolicious locations has been pairing up with a neighboring public school from September through May and donating 15 percent of a month’s worth of Monday’s proceeds to it. So far, they have raised just shy of $725,000 combined for 27 public schools.

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