Our industry got clobbered by the historically bad winter of 2015. Erin DiNatale, at the time a bartender at Row 34 and now a manager at Island Creek Oyster Bar, recalls colleagues from restaurants in the Fort Point neighborhood coming in at 6:30PM after being cut from shifts because no one was coming out. It got her thinking about how we might support one another in the future when disaster inevitably strike. That was February of 2015. The idea stayed with her when she transitioned to management in June and she decided to pitch an idea to Co-Owner Garrett Harker. What if restaurants competed based on how supportive they could be of one another?
A full year later, Rising Above Rivalry launched with restaurant partners across the Boston area. The Boston Globe has run Munch Madness for the past few years but Erin and the team at ICOB wanted to highlight the community of restaurants rather than pit them against one another. The idea combined our natural tendencies as hospitality people toward camaraderie, compassion, and [empathic] competition.
In the months leading up to March 1, the team at ICOB invited restaurants to participate by donating $100 and choosing a charity to represent. Back and Front of House team members at participating restaurants compete to see who could visit the most restaurants over the month of March. The restaurant whose team dined at the most restaurants would win all of the donated money on behalf of their charity. When a team member dined at a competing restaurant they took a photo and shared via Instagram using #risingaboverivalry and the charity they supported.
Beyond supporting one another, DiNatale hoped that the program would encourage industry diners to always introduce themselves. She noted, as industry peers, we learn from one another and are excited to share unique offerings when dining at other restaurants in the community. An industry colleague dining also often lead to a reciprocating visit that compounds the support.
This cycle of reciprocity brings the Rising Above Rivalry back, full circle to the winter of 2015. There are over 4000 restaurants and 75,000 employees in the Boston metro area. As a community, we can support each other in impactful ways during hard times.
The ICOB team was excited about the level of participation in the event but considered this first year one of learning. They are already talking about how to tweak and improve upon RAR for next year! For 2016, when the visits were tallied Doretta was the winner on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
A Few Images from Instagram from Rising Above Rivalry 2015: