REDDING, Conn. – Mike Sutila and Sandy Pope brought a different approach to supporting charities through their restaurant, The LumberYard Pub in Redding, when they opened six years ago. Now, their vision is being emulated by others in the industry.
The husband-and-wife owners support charities by donating a percentage of their monthly profits to nonprofit groups. They have donated more than $14,000 to groups over the years, including the Ridgefield Bark Park, Wilton Little League, Wilton Youth Football, Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, Wounded Warrior Project and Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project. They also donated more than $4,000 worth of goods to military organizations.
“In all the restaurants I worked in, we’d always do these little certificates,’’ Sandy Pope said. “I always had a concept in my head where I would try to focus on one and really make an impact. We devote all of our energy each month to that one charity. We focus on them, and it has been awesome.”
Charities can apply to the restaurant for consideration, Pope said. Once the charity is approved, the Popes take care of the rest. Many worthwhile charities, starving for attention and funds, can get help from the LumberYard simply by applying.
“I love that we’re able to help these groups,’’ Sandy Pope said. “Sometimes people had no idea that the organization existed. That’s one of the most rewarding things, to make a big impact for an organization that really deserves it.”
She is a restaurant lifer. Her family’s first restaurant dates to 1918, and members of her family own seven restaurants in Illinois. “I grew up as the dishwasher,’’ Pope said. “Once it’s in your blood, it stays with you.”
Sandy and Mike Pope searched for five years to find a location for their restaurant, and needed two years to renovate their building. The building was formerly known as Connery’s Hardware, Building Supplies and Lumber and later DeLuca Brothers and Sloper Lumber. It was flooded in 1955 when a tropical storm dumped nearly 14 inches of rain during a four-day span in October.
“The building needed a lot of work,’’ Sandy Pope said. “We have four children, and we could not find many places where we could go out, talk loudly and not cringe. We want a place to get a burger and a beer for $15 that wouldn’t mind kids. Fortunately, we’ve never had a down year. The local community has been great.”
Nonprofit groups interested in applying for consideration for The LumberYard’s charity donation program can find out more information online or contact the restaurant at 203-544-7287.