By Tim Barbalace
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Mission BBQ restaurant donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year to local and national groups supporting the armed forces and veterans, a company official said.
Carol Troutman, the account coordinator at Mission BBQ, said the establishment has dedicated its restaurant – and part of its proceeds – to veterans through charities that help those who have served in the military.
“Each day we sell plastic fountain cups, and $2 gets donated from every cup sold to the Wounded Warrior Project,” Troutman said.
Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that has been offering a variety of programs, service and events for wounded military veterans since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
In addition to helping the Wounded Warrior Project, the restaurant also holds events that donate $2 for every cup sold to help first responders like firefighters and police officers.
“Mission BBQ has a fundraiser from Aug. 11 to Sept. 11 where we raise money for local firefighter organizations associated with the location,” said Kerry Johnston, the national community ambassador at Mission BBQ. “We change the plastic cup color from black to red for that month to symbolize the firefighters. We also have the same fundraiser for the local police departments in April where we change the plastic cup color to blue to symbolize the police.”
Mission BBQ launched on Sept. 11, 2011, by owners Steve Newton and Bill Kraus. Newton and Kraus have said it is their mission to serve those who serve.
Johnston said Mission BBQ supports six national organizations and 50 local organizations corresponding with their 19 locations in five different states: Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“The decor in each of the restaurants [is] general with armed organization pictures and decorations, but all of them have to do with the specific area,” said Josh Mitchell, operating partner at Perry Hall Mission BBQ. “In Perry Hall, they have Perry Hall football pictures, Towson University and Maryland University athletics and other local interests. There is definitely a local feel to each location.”
When the Baltimore uprising occurred, Mission BBQ was there to support the National Guard and police.
“We set up a site by Camden Yards and over at the War Memorial for the police and National Guard,” Mitchell said. “We made over 7,500 sandwiches and lunch bags that had mac-and-cheese and other sides in them. We also set up a buffet for the managers of the police and National Guard.”
According to Troutman, each Mission BBQ restaurant stops whatever it is doing at noon each day to play the national anthem.
“On Veterans Day we give free sandwiches to all veterans, on National Police Day we give free sandwiches to all police, on National Firefighter Day we give free sandwiches to all firefighters and on 9/11 current military, veterans, firefighters, and police all get free sandwiches,” Troutman said.
Whenever a new location opens, it will always start on a Monday and have fundraising nights throughout the week.
“Every first Wednesday they have a firefighter charity night where all the proceeds go toward the firefighters,” Troutman said. “Thursday is for police and Friday is for the Wounded Warrior Project. No matter where a new location opens all of the proceeds go toward their local organizations.”
The pride of working for a business with strong ties to those who serve runs deep at Mission BBQ. Kraus’s son served four and a half years in the Marines, so this gave him an extra incentive to give back to those who served.
“Being part of Mission BBQ has been life changing,” Mitchell said. “Every day I get a chance to serve and thank true American heroes that have raised their right hand to protect serve and save. The job that these men and women perform each day is often underappreciated and taken for granted, but they provide us with the freedom and security that we enjoy each day.”
Troutman said that she expects there to be 40 locations total by 2018.