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Monday, December 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished: Caring for Kids 2008 Results

The results are in! Thanks to YOU, we raised $322,838 to benefit local children’s hospitals. That’s a pretty incredible accomplishment, and we owe it all to our dedicated team members and compassionate guests. As you may recall, this was our 30th annual Caring for Kids Campaign, and our goal this year was to break the $7 million total contribution mark. We’re proud to announce that, together, we did just that.
We’d like to offer a sincere “THANK YOU” to our team members for all of their hard work. You organized raffles, coordinated spaghetti dinners, and even donated your hard-earned tips to the campaign. You truly worked tirelessly for the kids! Of course, we couldn’t have done it without our fantastic guests. We’re proud to be a part of your community and are grateful for your help in supporting children’s hospitals. Even though times are tough, you really rallied to help us achieve our goal. Thank You!

Here's our team at the Whitehall Eat'n Park. With Smiley's help, they raised $782 during their Tips for Tots event. Nice work!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Customizing our menu for Celiac diets and other special needs

At Eat’n Park, our goal is to make everyone feel welcome. We want our menu to provide selections for every appetite, and our guests have often told us that we are the one place the whole family can agree on because of our broad menu.

Last year, some of our guests complimented us on some things we didn’t even know we were good at. Some of these guests had Celiac disease (an allergy to gluten), and they told us that they appreciated that we offered a gluten-free menu on our website. We also heard from people trying to cut back on calories and fat who liked our Eat’n Smart options, and from vegetarians who appreciated the multiple options we offer for them.

Though we were happy to hear this positive feedback, we also thought we could do a much better job at making our menu accessible to people with special diets. So, we redesigned the back of our menu to be especially for this purpose. This page of our menu includes sections for gluten-free items (our Celiac-Friendly menu), our Eat’n Smart selections (lower in calories, fat and cholesterol), reduced sodium selections, and vegetarian options. Our goal was to make it easy for people with special dietary needs to find the items on our menu that fit their diet. We also continually evaluate new items we introduce for how they may fit into these special sections.

We have received a lot of positive feedback on our new menu sections, and we hope everyone always feels welcome at Eat’n Park. We’re are continually looking for new menu ideas so if you feel we’re missing an item that could be your new favorite, let us know! You can pass on your suggestions by commenting here on this blog or in the Contact Us section of our website.

Thanks for listening and see you at Eat’n Park!

Sr. VP, Marketing Share

Friday, December 5, 2008

Smiley Loves a Parade

To get in the spirit of the season, Eat’n Park recently participated in Macy’s Celebrate the Seasons Parade in downtown Pittsburgh. Smiley loves a parade and the crowd really seemed to love Smiley. To make it a little more fun, we invited Sarah Marince, rising country singer and singer of our “The Place for Smiles” jingle, to join us in the parade. She sang Christmas songs and our famous jingle. There was a big crowd watching the parade, and we all had a great time. Here are a couple pictures and a short video in case you missed the parade.

I hope everyone has a joyous season. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! I’ll see you at Eat’n Park!

Sr. VP, Marketing


The Story of the Eat'n Park Christmas Star Commercial

It’s hard to believe that December is here and the holidays are already upon us. While there are busy schedules and stress that sometimes come along with this time of year, there are also long-beloved traditions that we look forward to all year long.

One long-running tradition here at Eat’n Park is our cherished Christmas Star commercial. Every year, we are moved by the comments we hear about this classic spot. Many of you have told us that it is what gets you in the holiday spirit, and that it reminds you of what the holidays are all about. We’ve even heard that the commercial has been referenced in Christmas Eve sermons!

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the commercial – and because it’s so timeless, it’s hard to believe that it has been around for so long. And just how did this classic come to be?

It all started in early 1982. Eat’n Park was just beginning to blossom into the family restaurant chain that you’re now familiar with, and the company was prospering. Our CEO at the time, Jim Broadhurst (who recently retired), wanted to create a holiday card on video to thank the city of Pittsburgh for their support of Eat’n Park.

So, Jim charged Ketchum, our ad agency at the time, with creating a message that would “last for 20 years.” Easy, right? Craig Otto, then a young Art Director, and Cathy Bowen, a fledgling Copy Writer at the time, lead the project. The pair worked for 3 weeks to generate over 30 ideas, none of which were met with approval. Eventually, they hit upon the idea of an animated commercial, but they still weren’t sure where they were going with it.

One Sunday shortly thereafter, Craig decided to come into the office. He sketched out a star, a traditional holiday image, and then stopped. “How does the star get to the top of the tree?” He played around with a few ideas until deciding that, of course, the star would need some help from the tree itself. In a fateful coincidence, Cathy had also decided to come in to the office that Sunday. So, while Craig worked out the illustrations, Cathy devised a simple, yet perfect sentiment to wrap up the commercial.

Jim immediately loved the spot, and an ageless favorite was born. Even better, the commercial has outlasted his original expectations. The idea of the relationship between the tree and the star illustrates a timeless holiday lesson – by helping another, you’re helping yourself, and you’re making the world a better place.

So, from everyone here at Eat’n Park, here’s hoping that the special lift you get this holiday season lasts all year long!

Click above to view the commercial. And please, feel free to share your thoughts and stories about it – we love hearing them!