The holiday season is one of the busiest times for the staff at The Lookout Bar and Grill in Maple Grove. The owner, Mike Kinnan, is juggling the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, a catering business and mobile concession stands.
“We are swamped right now,” he said. “I will bring on an additional 20 workers just to get through the next few weeks because we are so busy with holiday parties and events.”
Despite the end-of-the-year chaos, Kinnan has made a commitment to give back to the community. On Dec. 19 The Lookout, will prepare lunch for about 500 homeless people at Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis for free.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Kinnan said. “If we can afford to help out and give back to the community, than that is what we’re going to do.”
Kinnan thought it would be difficult to recruit staff to volunteer their time around the holidays, but it turns out, it wasn’t a problem.
“I have more staff than I probably need,” he said. “It shows what kind of staff I have working here.”
Kinnan, who became owner in 1987 when his father retired, says participating in events like this is a perk of being a family-run business.
“We’ve been in business for more than 50 years and we’ve seen a lot of changes in the community, but our family values haven’t changed,” he said. “We want to give back, it’s an important part of this business.”
Lookout customer Jane Dowling says she’s not surprised that the staff at one of her favorite local spots will donate their time. “They’re not a chain restaurant, they have roots here so they do care about the future of this community.”
In addition to preparing a top-notch lunch including spaghetti, fresh bread, salad, veggies and cookies for those at Sharing and Caring Hands, the restaurant is also collecting gifts to give out to kids that same day.
“We thought it would be a nice touch to give away a few presents too,” Kinnan said. “Just to make the holiday a little brighter.”
At a recent wine dinner, Kinnan asked customers to donate a toy. “I was overwhelmed by the amount of toys that poured in,” he said. “Just about every person that came brought a toy.”
So far, Kinnan and his staff have collected about 100 toys to give away during lunch.
“Despite the fact that I feel like an air traffic controller this time of year, I’m really looking forward to Dec. 19,” Kinnan said.
The Lookout is still collecting toys, they can be dropped off at the restaurant during regular business hours.