TBonz Restaurant Group owners Mark Cumins and Jerry Scheer are in the service business, but these entrepreneurs bring more to the table than just friendly staff and good food at establishments like Liberty Tap Room, Pearlz Oyster Bar, and Kaminsky’s. Their fresh thinking has helped deliver a menu of philanthropic projects funded by an in-house 501(c)3. Since the two friends opened their first steak house in 1986, the business—which now includes 18 properties—has given a half a percent of every dollar made to the TBonz Foundation to satisfy charitable needs.
“While giving money is important, our best community service is to roll up our sleeves,” says Scheer. Every year, TBonz employees have traded aprons for costumes at the Camp Star of Hope disco night (Disabilities Board of Charleston County); cooked up a Christmas Day wonderland with Santa, supper, and surprises for 150 underprivileged kids and their families (Christmas with Friends); and hosted a hospitality course at Mitchell Elementary School complete with menu math and a curriculum-themed meal. And when Crisis Ministries reached out for family center funding, the foundation not only offered money but a handful of employees to help build it and IT staff for a new computer room.
“We have the skills to put volunteers in a position where they can implement their ideas,” says Scheer. Visionaries like John Miller, a Kaminsky’s bartender who turned to his bosses with his dream of an after-school sailing program for inner-city kids (Reach Sailing) and received an operating budget and sponsor support, and Leigh Crowder, a yogi who wanted to share her practice with public schools (Yoga Kidz) and gained funding and bookkeeping assistance.
While it makes good business sense to invest in the local community—a positive reputation leads to a positive bottom line—for the givers behind the TBonz Restaurant Group, “the true bottom line is that we do community service hand-to-hand.”
Dishing Up Dreams
Baked Good: The TBonz Foundation purchases bread created at Delicious Delights, a daily baking workshop for about 20 people with disabilities, and has the products delivered to the Lowcountry Food Bank.
Money Movers: The TBonz Foundation has donated funds to dozens of local causes, including Camp Happy Days, Charleston Book Buddies, Crisis Ministries, Darkness to Light, Jewish Community Center, Pet Helpers, SideWalk Chalk, and Susan G. Komen Foundation/Race for the Cure.
Soul Support: TBonz provides exclusive annual support for Reach Sailing ($20,000), Yoga Kidz ($35,000), and Delicious Delights ($28,000).