Sipping Champagne and slurping oysters is a beloved pastime for food and drink lovers here in San Francisco, especially on sunny days with views of the bay. But the proprietors of local restaurant Waterbar (399 The Embarcadero) hope an enjoyable afternoon oan the terrace not only translates to feeling good, but also doing good, with Oyster Give Back, a program launched last summer that donates 5 cents per oyster sold (priced at $1.05 each) to local causes.
“Oyster Give Back was conceived to showcase the need for continued dedication to the environment and responsible living. We want diners to become a part of this movement,” said Waterbar executive chef Parke Ulrich.
The first beneficiary was the Watershed Project, an organization that rebuilds and sustains oyster populations in the Bay Area, which received $10,000. The Napa Valley Earthquake Relief Fund received $4,700 from Waterbar at the end of 2014 to help victims of the August temblor near Napa.
This month, Oyster Give Back starts its first full year, raising funds initially for Make-a-Wish Bay Area, with next quarter proceeds going to Marine Mammal Center, followed by the Watershed Project and Glide Memorial Church, known for its numerous outreach programs.
But oysters aren’t the only way to eat and drink for charity.
On Wednesdays, you can grab a drink (or sign up yourself) at Elixir (3200 16th St.) during guest bartender night, which raises money for the charity of his or her choice. The program, which began more than 10 years ago, has benefited Team in Training, SF Aids Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, the Boys & Girls Club and more.
Bluestem Brasserie (1 Yerba Buena Lane) makes happy hour (daily from 4 to 6 p.m.) even happier by donating $1 for every Bluestem Smash ($7) sold to UC San Francisco for cancer research. The signature a cocktail is made with St. Germain liqueur, vodka or whiskey, muddled seasonal fruit, lime and sparkling wine.
Sit down for a five-course feast ($60 per person) at Stone’s Throw (1896 Hyde St.) created by a collaboration of The City’s chefs and sommeliers, with all proceeds this year going to All Stars Helping Kids, a charity founded by four-time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.
During the month of June, Locanda (557 Valencia St.), a lively Roman trattoria, partners with San Francisco’s Scholar Match, a group that connects local under-resourced students with services, schools and donors to help make college possible.
Since opening five years ago, Mission Chinese Food (2234 Mission St.) has been donating 75 cents from each entrée to the SF-Marin Food Bank, with contibutions totaling more than $310,000. Its sister restaurant next door, Commonwealth (2224 Mission St.), donates $10 from each tasting menu ($75 per person; $120 with wine pairing) to numerous local causes including Food Runners, San Francisco SPCA, the St. Anthony’s Foundation and more.
If you’re heading to the wine country, BYOB to Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena. Its “Corkage for Community” program has raised over $90,000 by charging just $5 for every guest bottle brought in, and the donating proceeds to a different nonprofit each month.
The next time you crave oysters, have a hankering for Chinese food, or are meeting friends for an after-work drink, you can imbibe with purpose, knowing your dollars are going well beyond the till.
Kimberley Lovato has been writing about travel, food and drink for the last 20 years and has never met a happy hour she didn’t like. She writes at www.kimberleylovato.com.