Eight Yukon restaurants are coming together to host “Dine Out For Mandy,” a weeklong fundraising event.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Pie Five Pizza Co., The Big Easy New Orleans Cafe, Green Chile Kitchen Route 66, The Miller Grill, Dérailleur, Papa Johns, and Hog Wild Bbq Smoke Shack will each be hosting their own day, days, or night next week to donate a percentage of their sales to Amanda “Mandy” Starkey-Carson’s and Nhu Huong’s families. Starkey-Carson and Huong lost their lives due to a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve.
The fundraiser was named before Huong died, but will be helping her family as well as Starkey-Carson’s.
Jason McCormack, owner of The Miller Grill, came up with the idea for Dine Out For Mandy and originally asked The Big Easy, Green Chile Kitchen and Dérailleur if they’d be interested in being involved since they’re all Route 66 restaurants. Hog Wild, Papa Johns, Pie Five and Raising Cane’s became involved later.
“I never thought it would be this big when we first started,” McCormack said. “I was just hoping to help the family out a little bit the only way us restaurant owners know how to. It was a senseless act that shouldn’t have ever happened and now you have two kids and a husband that don’t have their wife or mom. Let’s at least show them that the community cares about them.
“It exploded. It went stupid. In the first 12 hours, 30,000 people had seen the flyer we had posted on Facebook.”
Several employees of each restaurant have already offered to give up their tips and even their pay for the night, McCormack said, and they’ve also received calls from servers in Oklahoma City restaurants that live in Yukon and want to volunteer their time to help at the different restaurants throughout the week.
The Big Easy has already collected some donations, and INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital also contacted The Big Easy wanting to put in a catering lunch order in the day before that would count toward the fundraiser.
“It’s a unique opportunity to give to two families who suffered a tragedy,” said Amanda Livecy, owner of The Big Easy. “It’s our way of giving back through food.”
Livecy added that other than going toward the families, she hopes some of the money could go toward Mandy’s Law to help them get what they need to get the law passed. She said she comes from a family with a history of alcohol abuse and she knows the tragedies alcohol can induce, whether behind the wheel or not, so she fully supports what they’re trying to do. Due to this, The Big Easy is also making their night alcohol free in respect to the victims.
Billy Bajema, owner of Pie Five, said he’s excited about doing anything they can to help.
“It’s a great cause,” Bajema said. “And anyone who does want to donate, can come enjoy a pizza instead knowing that their money is going toward those families.”
Some of the restaurants said they will be donating 15 percent of their sales, while others haven’t set a percentage. McCormack and Tara Peters, owner of Green Chile Kitchen, agreed that it’s better for them not to set a percentage and then decided a “good amount” after they see the amount of sales they have.
“It touched all of our hearts. We are so blessed to help out in any way that we can because we know the families are going through a really hard time. I can’t imagine, it’s just awful,” Peters said. “I know it’s just a little thing to do, but I hope that we can at least help that much to make things a little bit better.”
Scott Condict, co-owner of Dérailleur, said the owner Richie Bean is good friends with Starkey-Carson’s husband Cory and he wanted to be involved any way they could.
“It’s something really cool to be a part of,” Condict said. “It doesn’t surprise me it’s gotten so big because Yukon is a close-knit community. In a positive way it kind of encourages you to know there are communities that will still help out a family in need. It helps the people who are wanting in some way to express love and support to the families.”
The schedule for the week is:
—Raising Cane’s, 1127 Garth Brooks Blvd., all day Monday,
—Pie Five, 2121 S. Yukon Parkway Ste. 100, 4 p.m. to close Tuesday,
—Hog Wild, in front of Old Snyder, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday,
—The Big Easy, 359 E. Main St., 5 p.m. to close Wednesday,
—Green Chile Kitchen, 12 E. Main St., all day Thursday,
—The Miller Grill, 326 Elm Ave., 5 p.m. to close Friday,
—Dérailleur, 10 W. Main St., 5 p.m. to close Saturday, and
—Papa Johns, 107 E. Vandament Ave., all day Sunday, Jan. 29.
Diners should tell each restaurant they are there for Dine Out For Mandy and should expect a wait because the owners are expecting each restaurant to be busy.
“There’s so many different kinds of food, there’s no reason for people not to go out at least once,” McCormack said.
Peters said she just encourages people to “come out and support us to support them.”