Bartlett Elementary School families saw familiar faces on Jan. 24 when they flocked to Lenny’s Grill & Subs on Stage Road. There were fellow students, teachers and even administrators filling the tables and booths while Lenny’s personnel circulated among their guests. It was a show of school support, as the restaurant was hosting Spirit Night to benefit BES.
The school received a donation of 20 percent of the night’s proceeds during Spirit Night hours.
Assistant principal Trudi Royston was there with two teachers, enjoying the meal and seeing their school’s families. The event raised $332.85 for the school’s literacy fund, which promotes student reading. That program includes parties and incentives for students reaching their reading goals.
She was pleased at how many people attended the event. “It’s a great turnout.”
Wendi Stuhr Jackson, 10, was there to hang out with friends and families and enjoy a meal. She said, “It’s good for the school and good for us.”
Lenny’s general manager, Mike Redus, was also happy about the partnership with BES. “We’d like to help raise funds for the schools, especially the arts, and this is a way to help the schools.”
Events like this also helps the business, of course. “We’re making guests for life,” he said. “We’re giving back to the community that has given so much to us.”
The event was the kick-off for multiple fundraisers designed to benefit area schools, churches and other groups that choose to partner with Lenny’s. In the past, Redus said he’s spent about $2,000 in cash and another $1,000 in food and gift cards. This year, his restaurant plans to spend $6,000 in community investments, and they will expand and refine the program as they go.
“Anything we can do to fill in the gaps,” Redus said.
He’s managed the location for two years and said he recognized everyone who visited that night. That’s part of the joy of work for Redus. He likes developing relationships with his customers. “It’s cool to go out in the dining room and talk to people you know, getting to hang out with your best friends.”
That willingness to mingle and relate to customers personally is also a key factor in his hiring, he said. “You can’t teach heart.”
His location is the original Lenny’s, begun 18 years ago, and it remains famous for its signature Philly cheesesteaks and subs.
“People come to Lenny’s for the food,” Redus said. “They come back for us.”