What started as a conversation between the founder of a popular Washington restaurant chain and his mother will help buy lunches for Richland students.
Mark Eggen, the man behind Hop Jack’s, and his mother were talking about the stigma attached to students receiving free and reduced lunch when she was in school.
“At the time there was a special line you had to go in and even specific items you were allowed to choose from,” said Jaime Fox, the restaurant’s director of training, safety and charities. “Mark began to think about this and decided that our restaurant company could make an impact.”
Hop Jack’s decided to donate 50 cents of every children’s meal it sold to help hungry kids, similar to its program that donates 25 cents of every beer to community charities.
“We did not want to donate to large, nationwide organizations where we would never know where the money went and where there is often a lot of overhead costs,” Fox said.
Richland School District is one of 13 beneficiaries statewide, receiving $4,300 since joining the program in January. It will use the money to help students who wouldn’t otherwise get lunch, whether they are just short on funds in their lunch accounts, or their families are struggling but don’t qualify for the federal free lunch program.
Auburn Public Schools Foundation provides $10,000 for school programs in spring
"Six Auburn schools and thousands of students are benefiting this month from funding provided by the Auburn Public Schools Foundation.
The foundation funded three Turn the Page literacy grants totaling nearly $6,500. The grants are for upcoming projects at Lea Hill Elementary, Terminal Park Elementary, and West Auburn High School. These projects include upgrading the reading and writing curriculum materials available to the students there.
The language arts faculty at Auburn Mountainview High School received a $500 grant to enhance its Shakespeare unit for the incoming freshman class. The Seattle Shakespeare Company will visit the school next spring to conduct workshops as the classes study Romeo and Juliet.
Washington Elementary School was the recipient of more than $2,600 to purchase and install alternative seating options for its second-graders. These “wobble chairs” and other seating options have been shown to increase student focus by keeping them more physically engaged throughout the day.
The foundation also provided funding to several schools recently through the Pantry Project. Funded primarily through contributions from Hop Jack’s restaurant, the Pantry Project stocks participating schools with an on-hand supply of basic food, snack and hygiene materials for students in need.
Local residents can support the Pantry Project and at an upcoming fundraiser night at Hop Jack’s in Lakeland Hills from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Ten percent of all food and beverage sales during the fundraiser will go toward funding the Pantry Project..."
"Hop Jack’s established the Hop Jack's Good Neighbor Fund to help neighbors and team members in need. The fund raised over $88,000 and donated the money to various cancer organizations including: the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to support breast cancer and prostate cancer patients; the American Heart Association; Relay for Life, supporting a vendors son in a car accident, a guests small child with brain cancer, and a variety of other local charities. Additionally, Hop Jack’s donates 25 cents from every Hop Jack's beer sold. In January 2017, Hop Jacks created a program called "Kids Feeding Kids” and through this program, 50 cents from every kid’s meal goes to support local school meal programs. Hop Jack’s also hires people with disabilities through Trillium, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with disabilities find employment."
"Hop Jack's is locally famous for its brews, burgers, and neighborhood feel. The company has 12 restaurants, with three more under construction, mostly around Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. It employs 800 people and does more than $30 million in annual sales. The casual-dining juggernaut is the creation of a first-time entrepreneur who found himself unemployed in his 50s.
Mark Eggen, 62, spent most of his life working for the Red Robin chain, where he learned two things: how to run restaurants and how to scale restaurants. Eggen would likely have been a Red Robin lifer had the company's IPO not required he relocate from Seattle to Denver. Unwilling to move while his kids were in high school, Eggen joined another company, from which he got fired.
Eggen next bought a pizza franchise and ran it for three years. But being a good franchiser did not make him a very good franchisee. "At that age and point in my experience, I did not like being told what to do," he says. "So eight years ago--I was 54--I came home and said, 'Honey, I have got just enough money left to open my own restaurant.'"
After selling the pizza restaurant back to the company, Eggen had $100,000 to invest in the new venture. He also applied to the bank that financed his franchise for a $500,000 loan. "They said, 'Yeah, if you put your house up,'" says Eggen. "I knew it was a risk, but I wanted to do it. If I was unsuccessful, I was going to have to work a lot longer. But I enjoy working."
Coming up with a concept was easy: Eggen knew bars and burgers. Having started his career running an individual Red Robin, he believed restaurants that reflect the personality and leadership of the general manager treat people better--and consequently perform better--than corporate-driven entities. So he positioned Hop Jack's as a cozy neighborhood gathering spot, but with the infrastructure to scale."