Dining Out for Life expands to Orlando

By : Samantha Rosenthal
Comments: 0

Orlando – After years of success in Tampa Bay, Dining Out for Life will make its way to the Orlando area this April with benefits from the day-long fundraiser going to The GLBT Center of Central Florida.

Dining Out for Life raises money for AIDS service organizations. It happens every year all over the nation, and the Tampa Bay area was the closest area in Central Florida to participate. That event benefits the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP). Local restaurants register to donate a minimum of 25 percent of their gross food and beverage sales on the day of the event, or make a single contribution of $750 or more. Each restaurant is provided a volunteer ambassador that will invite potential customers to the restaurant for the event and also help at the restaurant on that day.

Dining Out For Life was created in 1991 by ActionsAIDS in Philadelphia, and is now an annual fundraiser in more than 60 cities.

ASAP’s Resource Development Manager Jay Aller explained how this year the program was finally able to plan to expand to the Orlando area—a city with a big restaurant scene that could benefit from the event.

“The national organization that runs a Dining Out for Life approached us asking if we could branch out into Orlando, but because ASAP doesn’t have any presence in Orlando we didn’t want to raise money in Orlando and take it back to ASAP,” Aller said.

Aller said he is excited to see Dining Out For Life grow into the Orlando market, and added that The Center made sense as the benefitting organization here since it provides AIDS education, awareness and resources for the LGBT and local community.

“With Orlando having such a big restaurant scene and so many visitors, we’re excited that, through Dining Out for Life and the AIDS Service, we can get the message out there to get tested and that HIV/AIDS is not over,” Aller said.

Last year, Tampa Bay’s Dining Out For Life featured 72 dining locations in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and raised $63,000.

One new feature that helped boost the fundraiser’s success in 2014 was the addition of food truck participants, Aller said.

Through the efforts from Maggie Loflin from Maggie on the Move and the Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association, Aller said ASAP benefited from three different food truck rallies—one in North St. Petersburg and one near Downtown St. Petersburg for lunch, and one in Tampa for dinner.

“It was very encouraging to see them [the Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association] getting involved,” Aller said.

Typically, Dining Out For Life boosts traffic through restaurants, which also boosts wait times. Not surprisingly, however, patrons rarely complain about the added wait.

“Waits are not necessarily a bad thing,” Aller said during a previous Dining Out For Life event. “It shows that people were paying attention to where their donations went that night. Ambassadors didn’t hear anyone complaining.”

In 2015, Aller has said he hopes to work with chain restaurants again, but to also expand his relationship with independent restaurant owners.

The event this year will fall on April 28 for both Tampa Bay and Orlando. For more information and registration for Orlando restaurants, visit DiningOutForLife.com/TampaBay/Orlando-Registration.

Share this story: