Full-Time Charitable Restaurant?

For the past year, Mission Street Food has been donating its profits to charity; now, we would like to open a full-time charitable restaurant. This restaurant would be here in the Mission, open daily, offering fine dining food at affordable prices, benefiting a changing roster of charitable organizations.

While unconventional, the business model we’ve used thus far has enabled us to donate $22,000 to local charities in 2009, and we’d like to propose another unconventional business decision for the new restaurant: inviting you to participate in the venture. Mission Street Food is currently in negotiations to purchase a restaurant space, but we need a little more capital upfront. So we’re announcing a co-op of sorts, in which many investors could contribute a reasonably small amount to the start-up costs and earn annual dividends and more.

Here are some details regarding this proposition: We need about 100 investors at $500 apiece. If there is enough interest in this project, we will hire a lawyer to manage an escrow fund and accept contributions. Our tentative business plan projects a level of profitability that would make the annual dividend around $70 (14% return on investment). It also projects fundraising of $40,000 to $90,000 per year for charity. Investors can choose to hold their membership and redeem annual dividends or redeem the membership at any time for $1000 in gift certificates at the restaurant. If the restaurant does not open, investments would be returned in their entirety.

This is, undoubtedly an unusual offer, but we’re trying to build a charitable engine and hope you'll be interested in participating. The restaurant will not be strictly not-for-profit--some profits will go to partners/investors and some will go to members of the co-op as dividends. But I think we can raise a lot of money for charity. More importantly, if we’re successful, other people might follow suit by incorporating charitable elements in their businesses.

If you're interested in getting involved as an investor/Co-op member, I would be happy to provide more detailed information. And if anybody wants to invest an amount over $5000, we would be glad to discuss partnership terms on that level. Email me at missionstreetfood@gmail.com.

Thanks for your support,



Doc Pop said...

This sounds interesting. Have you guys considered raising money on Kickstarter? I bet you could raise 50,000 through donations and giveaways without having to go the co-op model.
For instance, I would like to contribute somehow, but $500 may be a little high for me.

Unknown said...

What a great idea! I'm definitely interested in investing $500. Here's an exchange on FB between my friend and I:

Friend: i saw that and was thinking that they loose their economic advantages when going towards a traditional model (ie: rent only on highly productive days, and have more diversity of menu by requiring lower commitment from guest chefs)

Les: They're definitely taking a risk. But consider that Delancey St. has been able to stay in business. It seems like they've fine-tuned their current model ... maybe they were bored b/c they've done all they could already, and asked "what is the next step?" Given the plethora of non-profits in the area, they could even dedicate certain nights to certain issues, say Monday to arts, and Tuesday to health issues (cancer awareness, blood drive), Wednesday to women's groups, Thursday to guest chefs, Friday to ethnic groups, Saturday to Mission-based groups, Sunday to children's causes, just to have some framework, rather than seven days of anything goes.

And rather than taking it all on themselves, they could have people from the community helping them promote and cross-promote each night or week, or the same night each week. Additionally, as they've done, each group that benefits a particular night could promote to their consituents.

Peter said...

i love the idea.

i wouldn't mind seeing a $100 member buy-in option, with a separate capital offering of $500+ -- they'd be more like 'preferred stock' -- but only 'one vote', no matter how much you go in for.

the black star coop in austin, tx is rolling like this (video1) (video2).

Cameo said...

I'd definitely be interested in investing in your charitable restaurant, but I think Doc Pop's idea is something you should pursue first.

Orin said...

Word on the street is that the folks at Lung Shan are a more-or-less done operating their restaurant — so I heard from owners of another place on that block of Mission. I don't want to jump the gun, but any chance that 2234 might turn out to be the permanent location?

The Curry Collective said...

I'd love to donate. Although-- would this be tax-deductible since the donor would be receiving a dividend?

MSF said...

I started a project on kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/603393953/mission-street-food-is-opening-a-full-time-charita?ref=email
Thanks for the suggestion.

As for Curry's question about tax deductions, this would not be a donation and we are not technically a non-profit, so no, the money would not be tax deductible. Sorry.

Doc Pop said...

I'm glad you guys opted for the Kickstarter option. I kicked in $75 this morning, might do more.

I also mocked up a possible shirt design for you guys. If you dig it, perhaps you could somehow tie in a shirt promo with your kickstarter.

Unknown said...

Hey! I heard about you on the news last night. What a truly great idea! I am an accountant for nonprofits in SF, but have been studying how to do acctng for coops. I would love to help out, and become a member as well.

My partner is also a chef at the JW Marriott who is looking to be a guest chef. He graduated from the Culinary Academy in SF and specializes in asian-French fusion, particularly Shanghai-ese cuisine, because he's from there. I'll have him fill out the guest chef application I saw on this blog.

-Billy Chen

Guillermo said...

I want to donate to the Mission Street Food cause. How can I do that? Thanks.

Guillermo said...

I want to donate to the Mission Street Food cause. Who do I contact to do that? Thanks.

MSF said...

Hi Guillermo, at this point, the most straightforward way to contribute to the opening of our full-time charitable restaurant is to go here:




awb said...

I'm interested in some pro-bono or cost-based design/consulting for your project. Check my profile, hit me back if you want to talk...

On Facebook too...