Reverie BBQ of Mount Vernon, owned by

Cheryl and Matt Kaufman,won a humanitarian

award from the Washington Restaurant Association

for its efforts to feed low-income and homeless residents.

Source:  Skagit Valley Herald

August 08, 2008
by Staff Report


MOUNT VERNON—Reverie BBQ of Mount Vernon has won state recognition this

summer for its work to feed the poor and homeless.


The restaurant sells food all month so that it can provide free meals to those who need them

on the last five nights of the month - when money is often especially tight for low-income people.


The humanitarian award through the Washington Restaurant Association came with a

500 cash prize. Those winners qualify to compete in a national competition with

contestants in 49 different states in Washington D.C. in December.


Reverie BBQ owner Cheryl Kaufman never saw the e-mail notifying her that Reverie BBQ

won at the end of June, but she received a phone call July 31 asking her if she would attend

the national award ceremony. They suggested she use her $500 to fly out.  But she knew

where that money would go—toward fresh vegetables for a growing number of hungry people.


Now, she has a special reason to hope for a win at the national level—a prize award of

$5,000.  Cheryl and her husband Matt Kaufman could use the help. Last month, Reverie

saw record numbers of people coming in for a meal. The group served more than 1,000

people from July 27 to 31. The first year they opened, they served fewer than 200 in a week.

All the money earned at the restaurant during normal business hours pays for the free meals.



Tough times mean longer lines at Reverie BBQ

August 01, 2008
by Aaron Burkhalter


Volunteer Gordon Kimbell, left, serves a plate to Mike Caling

of Mount Vernon at the Reverie BBQ Wednesday evening. The Mount Vernon

restaurant’s owners, Matt and Cheryl Kaufman, serve free food to

people in need the last five days of each month.


Source:  Skagit Valley Herald

MOUNT VERNON — A few months ago, Jamayshaw Merculief had a steady office job and a roof

over her head. Now she spends her days homeless, without a job and with kids to feed.


Merculief, 21, of Mount Vernon, said she made good money, and budgeted

her finances well, but her rent spiked from $800 to $1,100 in one month.

She had enough money to get by, but not with an additional $300 on her rent.

With kids and no roof over their head, she had to quit her job and start looking into alternatives.


But she’s not without a few resources. At the end of every month she joins hundreds of others

at the Reverie BBQ on South Second Street in Mount Vernon for a free hot meal among friends.


The restaurant, run by Matt and Cheryl Kaufman, welcomes more and more people like Merculief lining

up at its door. The couple operates the restaurant so they can offer a free hot meal each night

for the last five days of the month.


When the Kaufmans started the program three years ago, they would feed 170 people in a week. But

In the last three months they’ve watched the lines grow longer. Monday night alone they fed 270,

and as of Thursday afternoon they expected to reach 1,000 for the month.


Cheryl Kaufman blames a weakened economy. On top of the long lines of people waiting, she’s

finding fewer and fewer people at her restaurant during normal operating hours.


“I’m noticing that the restaurant numbers are down,” she said. “And I think it has a lot to do

with gas prices.”  Matt Kaufman’s not too worried about it. He said people struggle at the end of

the month in good and bad times in the economy. And they serve food at the end of the month

when those living hand-to-mouth are waiting for the next paycheck.


“You’ve got a lot of people out there struggling,” he said. “They’ve got trouble getting through

the end of the month. There’s usually more month at the end of the money.”


But as more people come in, the Kaufmans have to make more food and find more seating.

Inside the restaurant they can only accommodate about 45 people, so in the summer they

have tables set outside to hold the crowd.


Kaufman said the restaurant operates to fund the free meals, but even that’s not

enough. The also rely on donations.   The money may get tight, for the people coming in for

hot meals and for the Kaufman’s efforts. But it’s a labor of love, and a calling.

“The only reason we opened the restaurant was to pay for this,”

Matt Kaufman said. “This came up and we felt the Lord was leading us to this.”


And he’s confident that things will work out no matter how many people walk up

looking for a hot meal.   “We’ll just take it as it comes,” he said. “Money is always an issue;

it takes a considerable chunk of change to run this operation.”


Merculief has the same attitude. She’s homeless, but she’s doing OK.

“I’m OK with it now,” she said. “As long as I can survive and my kids are healthy, I’m OK.”





WRA - Washington Restraunt Association



Aug. 8, 2008

WRA Announces State Winners to Compete for National Philanthropy Award


OLYMPIA – The Washington Restaurant Association today announced four
Washington restaurants are in the running for the national Restaurant Neighbor Award, a program by the National Restaurant Association that recognizes outstanding community service, to be presented in Washington, D.C., this September. The winners are: Amy’s On The Bay in Port Orchard; Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar in Bellevue;
Reverie BBQ in Mount Vernon; and Clinkerdagger/Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., in Spokane.


 The prestigious Restaurant Neighbor Award program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

“These Restaurant Neighbor Award winners exemplify the generous and charitable spirit that has become a trademark of our industry,” said WRA President and CEO, Anthony Anton. “Knowing that our members understand and embrace the value of giving back to their communities is truly gratifying.”

The Restaurant Neighbor Award honors charitable contributions in four categories: small business, mid-size business, national chain and Cornerstone Humanitarian. The
Washington state winners will compete with winners from other states and be eligible

for the national award. One national winner in each category will be announced at the
National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., held
September 23-24, 2008. The national winners will each receive a $5,000 award to
continue their community programs, and a trip to the nation’s capital for the award ceremony.


Amy’s On The Bay was awarded the Cornerstone Humanitarian designation because of
its work with numerous charitable organizations, including the Special Olympics, Tip-a-
Cop, Relay for Life and the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Foundation.
In the small business RNA category,
Reverie BBQ was selected on account of the 1,000 free meals served monthly at the restaurant to low-income and homeless diners.
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar was recognized in the mid-size business category for
the free Thanksgiving dinner the restaurant serves to hundreds of underprivileged diners annually.

In the national chain category, Spokane’s Clinkerdagger/Restaurants Unlimited, Inc.,
was presented with an RNA in recognition of its work with hunger relief and its
dedication to helping low-income families with home repair and renovation.

The National Restaurant Association and founding partner American Express developed the Restaurant Neighbor Award to recognize outstanding community programs across the country and to inspire other restaurant operators and owners to do what they can in their communities.

A profile of the national and state winners’ community service efforts will be highlighted in a booklet, as well as on the National Restaurant Association’s Web site,


For more information, contact the WRA at 800.225.7166.

The Washington Restaurant Association, in its 79th year, is the leading business ssociation for

the restaurant industry - the largest private employer in the state with a workforce of more

than 193,000 employees. In Washington, the more than 12,500
restaurants annually generate $10.7 billion to the state economy and contribute $593
million in state taxes. Washington restaurants are vital to our economy, community and careers.

Washington Restaurant Association
510 Plum Street SE, Suite 200 | Olympia, Washington 98501
Phone 800.225.7166 | Fax 360.357.9232 | Local 360.956.7279