Golf Prizes Way Better Than Flatscreen TVs

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - April 29, 2009
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George Szigeti

At last week’s Hale Aina annual golf tournament, an event that benefits culinary education in Hawaii, guests prepared to take home the usual array of valuable prizes. In previous years flat screen TV’s, iPods, cameras and golf bags have all been part of the coveted loot that raises competition levels - and guarantees the tournament its high attendance. This year, however, guests went home with prizes of a different value, ones that will give a much-needed boost to the economy. Better Brands president George Szigeti came up with the idea of buying restaurant gift certificates instead of imported electronic goods.

“I’m calling it our restaurant stimulus package,” he says. “Instead of buying the $10,000 or so in team and door prizes that we usually buy,” says Szigeti, a recent MidWeek cover subject, “we decided to support our restaurant industry by using the money to purchase gift certificates. Everyone has been hit in some way by the economy, and people have less money in their pockets to dine out. Our hope is to get people out into the restaurant community having a good time and generating income for our industry.”

It’s a move that should be highly applauded, not least because the beverage industry is itself suffering from depressed sales.


But it comes as no surprise that the beverage industry is the one coming up with an answer to our desperate economic situation. In the 15 years that I’ve been writing about food and wine in Hawaii, the food and beverage industry has answered every call to action and every cry for help. Just think of how many fundraisers you’ve attended at local restaurants, or how many times you, or someone you know calls a restaurant for a donation. Millions of dollars are donated to charity each year by restaurants and millions more are given away in time and resources. Restaurant owners paying the salary of a sick employee, chefs taking extra shifts so kitchen workers with sick kids can take time off, owners handing over their premises for the day to charitable organizations so they can make not just a few hundred dollars, but a hundred thousand dollars, these are all real examples of everyday actions from the industry.

While government struggles to come up with solutions, you can trust the food and beverage industry to take matters into their own hands.

At other distributors, including Paradise Beverages, Anheuser Busch and Southern Wines and Spirits, sales people are encouraged more than ever to visit local bars and restaurants during these tough economic times.

“We often stop at two or three different places in an evening to show support of our industry,” says Southern Wines and Spirits vice-president Warren Shon. “And we encourage our sales people to go out and spend money in bars and restaurants on a regular basis. They know how important it is, and how much it helps.”

Szigeti’s stimulus package has been greeted with great enthusiasm.

“Everyone from the Hale Aina partners to restaurants think that this is a great idea and most certainly the right thing to do at this time,” he says. “Let’s face it, is there a better thing to do when times are tough than to go and dine at your favorite restaurant?”

When you do, make sure to order a glass of wine or beer - to toast our beverage industry. They could use your support too.

Happy eating!

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