This Pride Month, restaurant brands—big and small—have been using their platform to celebrate diversity and inclusion in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Large chains like Burger King and McDonalds have launched major campaigns in honor of Pride, and on a local level, restaurants from Boston to Los Angeles have found unique ways to spotlight the work of nonprofits in their communities and create a welcoming environment for all guests.
For example, our friends at Postino WineCafe donated $5 for every glass of Bonelli Sparkling Rosé poured on June 27 to The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization that protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people. And, on the fifth anniversary of the Orlando nightclub shooting on June 12, our partners at Hawkers Asian Street Food matched donations to the onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the Pulse memorial and museum.
As Pride Month comes to an end, now’s the time for restaurant brands to be thinking about how to be more inclusive and celebrate diversity year-round. We sat down with our partners at The Ruby Slipper Cafe to find out what Pride means to the brand, how they’re supporting the local LGBTQ+ community, and what other restaurants can do to make a difference throughout the year.
What Pride Means to Ruby Slipper Cafe
Celebrating Pride isn’t anything new at Ruby Slipper Cafe. Guests flock to the restaurant each summer to order the Pride Month special, served by staff wearing rainbow T-shirts and accessories.
In 2020, the Rainbow Popsicle Mimosa Flight was a hit, and this year, guests can’t get enough of the Pride Takes Flight Mimosa Flight—a vibrant lineup of mimosas crafted with housemade blackberry lavender, strawberry thyme, peach bellini, and blue orange syrups.
But the annual Pride celebration is more than just a fun theme at Ruby Slipper. For every “Brunch Pride Love” T-shirt and Pride Takes Flight Mimosa Flight sold this summer, the brand is donating $1 to local LGBTQ+ organizations near each restaurant location. So far, the company has raised over $7,000 total and they still have another month to go.
“People love it,” said Melissa Bouligny Carter, Director of Brand Marketing at Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group. “It gets the community involved in a way that’s easy for them to participate … and also enjoy because they’re getting something that tastes great.”
According to Bouligny Carter, the brand’s passion for celebrating Pride can be traced back to its founder, Jennifer Weishaupt. Since opening the first Ruby Slipper Cafe in 2008 in the Mid-City, New Orleans neighborhood that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Weishaupt has made diversity and inclusion a cornerstone of the restaurant brand—from its hiring practices to its welcoming atmosphere.
“It really is woven into the fabric of the brand—this effort toward inclusivity and showcasing diversity,” said Bouligny Carter.
How Restaurant Brands Can Support the LGBTQ+ Community
Restaurant brands that want to support the LGBTQ+ community certainly don’t have to invent a rainbow-themed menu item in order to be inclusive.
Ruby Slipper Cafe, for instance, is a member of local LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce. LGBTQ+ chambers advance common business interests, economic growth, and equality in the workplace and society for its LGBTQ+ members, businesses, and allies.
Restaurants can also make donations to local or national nonprofits that serve the LGBTQ+ community. Some of Team Wisely’s favorite organizations are The Trevor Project, Brave Space Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and LGBTQ Fund.
For Ruby Slipper Cafe, donating to a community nonprofit that their guests benefit from is one of the most meaningful ways to demonstrate allyship.
“For smaller companies like ours, finding a local organization really means something to the people who are actually coming into those restaurants and supporting what those efforts are because they know it’s coming back to them directly,” said Bouligny Carter.
Each year, the Ruby Slipper Cafe team explores new ways to strengthen its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community—internally, at each location, and within the broader communities that the brand serves.
“It’s something that’s top of mind for us,” said Bouligny Carter. “We’re thinking about what else we can do with organizations to continue to promote diversity and inclusion—whether that be orientation or ethnicity—and figuring out how to spread that out so it isn’t just one moment in time.”
Throughout the year, anyone can demonstrate their allyship by eating at LGBTQ-owned restaurants. Here are a couple lists to start with:
Photos provided by Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group