Tag Archives: fundraiser

foodie b’eat: A Community Surrounds Skippy’s

The story “A Grand Finale for Skippy’s” was originally published in YES! Weekly on April 20th. This blog post has the story in full and will be continually updated with participating restaurants and contributors as they become known.

IMG_0233

There’s a feeling of community within the culinary circles in Winston-Salem that is unmatched in just about any area city I’ve encountered. There’s just something about it. And it’s very, very evident this week as a group of restaurant owners, chefs, purveyors, and even artisans are coming together to help one of their very own.

Skippy’s Hot Dogs has been a downtown Winston-Salem institution for 14 years. No one else does a dog like Skippy’s. The hot dogs are delicious and what sets them apart is that signature pretzel bun. Growing up in Pennsylvania, twisted pretzels were kind of a normal thing. But owner Mike Rothman wanted to bring those pretzels, which were missing, to Winston-Salem, and he did just that. After a few years of selling pretzels and refining his concept, the hot dog on the twisted pretzel roll became Mike’s thing. And he’s enjoyed success since doing so. Winston-Salem is a hot dog city. And Skippy’s helped put it on the map.

IMG_9454

A couple of months ago, Mike had to close a few times due to health reasons. Then abruptly, the sign said “Closed Until Further Notice.” Now, if you’re a fan of Skippy’s, you know (being selfish) that this is awful news. But it got people wondering, what on earth has happened to our beloved Mike Rothman? And then came the sad announcement that Mike had been diagnosed with brain cancer and would have to close to undergo treatment for glioblastoma. And even if you have insurance, this type of treatment is extensive and expensive and when you run a restaurant and it’s your sole source of income? Disastrous.

Restaurant owners from the downtown area visited Mike during the early stages of his recovery and got the idea to run his restaurant for him while he recuperates. Will Kingery, who own’s King’s Crab Shack, Willow’s Bistro, and Silo said, “ We wanted to manage Skippy’s for him and there were folks actually volunteering to run the business for him while he gets better so he could have an income. We all put ourselves in his shoes. If we lost our income and had huge medical bills, we’d be done. But that’s just not what he wanted. He didn’t want the stress of keeping the business open. And we understand where he’s coming from. … he just wanted to focus on healing. ”

IMG_0217

Photo from the Skippy’s FB page when the fundraiser was just announced

So the group came up with an alternate plan.

“We decided, ‘well, let’s just open it for one more week.’ Kingery added. “As a way to raise some money for him. And Mike got really excited about that idea and jumped on board with it.”

All the proceeds from “Mike’s Week” will go to pay his medical bills, while he fights the good fight.

All kinds of folks, professional and amateur, from the community have stepped in to help. Numerous downtown establishments like Jeff and Adam from Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station, Opie Kirby from Finnigans, The Moody’s from West End Coffeehouse, Mozelle’s, DiLisio’s, Rooster’s A Noble Grille, Graze, The Tavern in Old Salem, Spring House Restaurant, Quanto Basta, Camino Bakery, The Porch Kitchen & Cantina, Bib’s, Atelier on Trade, Harrison Littell of Five Loaves Catering, Chef Stuart Ford of Pintxos Pour House and Wild Willie’s Wiener Wagon, Tart Sweets, Kabobs on 4th, and countless others, including Kingery’s eateries. Mary Haglund from Mary’s Gourmet Diner is cooking and handling the catering side of things for the week, while Vivian Joiner from Sweet Potatoes is scheduling the volunteers.

Joiner says, “At least 20 restaurants have said they will step up. It’s such an extraordinary outpouring from all sides of the community from the hospitality industry to just regular people off the street.”

Each day Skippy’s will offer the same menu you’ve been familiar with, though minus the famous pretzel buns. Kingery says, “That was Mike’s thing…he was an expert at that, so we’ll just have some really great split-roll buns.” And each day the chef leading the kitchen will feature a special hot dog of his or her own creation. “It’ll be a different twist on a hot dog…very creative ideas are being thrown out there,” Kingery says. Joiner adds that though their will be a chef leading the kitchen each day, dozens more from other restaurants will be there as line cooks, taking orders or just selling t-shirts.

Food distributors across the area are donating thousands of dollars worth of food, like Southern Foods, US Foods, Sysco, IFH. Pepsi is donating drink products. Tom’s Glass Works is donating a commemorative glass that will be for sale. Hanes Brands has a new spin on a Skippy’s T-shirt that will be available for purchase. Zoom! did all the printing. Dewey’s Bakery has offered to donate cookies to sell. The Winston-Salem Dash donated all the Nathan’s Hot Dogs and its staff has volunteered to pitch in. TW Garner’s Texas Pete and staff members will be there slinging hot dogs as well. And Skippy’s will also be featuring Birch Root Beer from Mike’s home state of Pennsylvania. When the kitchen equipment needed a bit of repair, Carolina Kitchen Repair volunteered to do it. Local advertising agency, Mullen-Lowe is even working on a video to highlight the event. And the list goes on…

Kingery says the group has been overwhelmed by all the support, yet at the same time, he’s not at all surprised. “It’s just Winston-Salem. We work together. If you need help, we are there for you. If you need product, we can call each other and help each other out. That’s just how the Winston-Salem culinary community is. We’re neighbors…really, a team.”

And it’s true. The chefs in Winston-Salem know what collaboration is. And there’s a brotherhood and yes, that includes the women, that is beyond compare. Joiner says, “It’s just a testament to how cool the city we live in really is.”

Chefs/restaurants on the line and featuring a special hot dog will be (subject to change):
Willow’s Bistro/Kings Crab Shack
DiLisio’s along with John Bobby from Rooster’s A Noble Grille
Bib’s Downtown
Mary’s Gourmet Diner
Sweet Potatoes
Finnigan’s Wake
Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station
Foothills Brewing
Graze

Kingery adds, “We just want to give a huge thank you to everyone involved. It’s going to be very busy and kind of terrifying at times,” he laughs. “But it will all be worth it in the end. We are just so grateful to everyone who’s involved and continuing to come forward.”

Kingery says after Mike’s Week, sadly, the doors will close on Skippy’s for good…yet….only maybe. “After it’s all over, we’re going to clean the restaurant and all the equipment up. And Skippy’s will be for sale. It’s a great space. It is already set up to be a pretzel factory. It has everything it needs to be a successful business. We don’t expect it to be vacant for long. It really is a diamond.”

As for Mike, who’s 53, family members say they’re taking his recovery one day at a time, but that he’s making great strides and becoming more independent.

I had a chance to speak with Mike’s mom, Harriett, and she was just so sweet and she says she’s very touched.  “He’s a warrior. It’s been an adjustment being here, not only because he has to be in this rehab facility but also because he had to leave his friends.” Mrs. Rothman says that Mike is being positive throughout it all and has been following all the activity on social media. “He misses everyone. He’s starting to reach out to his friends which makes him feel better. He’s just overwhelmed and touched by all the support he’s getting from the community and he tells us, ‘I might not have made a ton of money, but I made wealth in a much more special way…just knowing that people want to do this for me.”

Here’s a picture of a recovering Mike from Skippy’s Facebook page. Be sure to check out the page regularly for updates on Mike and #mikesweek.

13043528_10154166874699743_7539822053178684401_n

Mike Rothman, owner of Skippy’s

Mrs. Rothman says she’s incredibly proud of her son. “We’re so proud of what he’s accomplished. What’s happening in Winston-Salem is awesome and unbelievable and heartwarming and there aren’t enough words to describe.”

In addition to the benefit of a huge amount of local press, volunteers have taken to social media to help get the word out. Be sure to follow Skippy’s Hot Dogs Facebook page for the latest updates. Mike’s family members have also set up a GoFundMe page. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the restaurant community, volunteers, and people who are going to come out and show support for Mike. I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen a community pull together to support one person quite like this before. This tells me that not only is Mike incredibly special, but so is the Winston-Salem community,” announced his niece, Marissa Goldman, via GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised over $15k. Mike’s rehabilitation facility is in PA so that he could be near his parents. If you feel compelled to send a card or note of encouragement, mail to:

Michael Rothman
c/o The Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg
4000 Linglestown Rd.
Room 117
Harrisburg, PA. 17112

Volunteers are still appreciated to help set up, cook, assist and clean up during the week of the fundraiser and the week following as they prepare the restaurant for sale. If you’d like to get on the schedule, contact Vivian Joiner at Sweet Potatoes at (336) 727-4844.

Joiner says that on Saturday evening, the organizers and volunteers will re-convene for a grand finale. And when I talked with her aboutthat last day….

“We’re being asked what we are going to do….and for me, I’m not going to think about it until it happens. It’s a very touching thing….to close a restaurant. To serve your final plate and lock the doors behind that final guest. It is not an easy thing. So I’ll let that moment play out as it happens.”

Here are the details, foodies!
Mike’s Week at Skippy’s will be Saturday, April 23 to Saturday, April 30. Hours will be 10am to 8pm each day.
Skippy’s Hot Dogs
624 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem.
Phone: (336) 722-3442.

Be sure to let us know that you are going! Take photos of when you are there. Tweet and Facebook with the hashtag #mikesweek.

Prayers for you, Mike!

 

 

foodie b’eat: Men Can Cook…and We Love It!

Foodies, let me let you know about an organization that is near and dear to my heart. SECU Family Home. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the SECU Family Home’s Men Who Can Cook Fundraiser. Actually, I’ve been working with them over the past 9 months in preparation for this signature event, coordinating judges, assisting in the judging criteria, naming categories, etc. It was a great event and I really had a lot of fun being a part of it.

This was published recently in my Chow article in YES! Weekly.

Keep an eye out for 2017 and you can be a part of the 2nd annual event. It is a great time. And…you’ll want to come hungry!

The signature Men Who Cook benefitting SECU Family House was held Saturday, March 5 and more than 250 “friends of the house” were in attendance at the Historic Brookstown Inn to lend support to local amateur chefs. Amateur chefs? Only in the kitchen, but not really by the looks and taste of the delicious dishes prepared by these local movers and shakers in the Triad. Competing were local dignitaries, organizational leaders, and CEO’s competing as celebrity chefs who wanted to wow attendees’ tastebuds. The participants/teams were: Angelo Adamo (Walter Robbs architectural firm), Steve Berlin (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP), Jeff Clous of (Gwyn Electrical Plumbing Heating & Cooling), Tom Ferrell (Courtyard by Marriott), Harry Fitzgerald (VP of BBT Insurance Services)/Cameron Kent (News Anchor WXII), Gary Hauser/Gib McEachran /John Hardy (HMC Partners), Peter Juran (Blanco Tackabery), Kevin Kampman (Publisher of Winston-Salem Journa)l, Michael Lalor (CMO Hospice of WS), Jeff Lindsay (COO Novant Health), John McConnell (CEO WFMBC), John McPherson (Coldwell Banker Triad), Stanley Morgan /Tom Kenny, Robert Nichols (Wells Fargo), Elwood Robinson (Chancellor WSSU), Jose Rodriguez (KPMG LLP), Winston-Salem Police Chief Barry Rountree, Rick Smothers (Senior VP Reynolds American), Jim Sparrow (Pres. WS Arts Council /Joe Logan, and Trent Wall (Exec. NewBridge Bank). Those without teams were allowed to have a sous chef on hand. You could tell they were all having fun and they were definitely serving up some deliciousness.

The SECU Family House serves adult patients and caregivers traveling to Forsyth County for healthcare by providing supportive care and affordable family-focused accommodations. Proceeds from the event allow the Family House to continue serving those in medical crisis. In total, the Family House surpassed its goal in raising $75,000 including sponsorships, ticket sales, donations and raffles.

The event was the inaugural fundraiser for the five-year-old organization. SECU Family House executive director Kathy Carr said the mix and mingle party went well beyond their expectations. “We couldn’t have had this party without the food and talent of our chefs. It’s a lot of work. It really means a lot to not only have a good party but to meet the mission of providing affordable lodging and care for these families who, really….are just like you and me. They just have to travel to get their medical care. We’re all in this together. We appreciate that very much.”

Organizers thought it only fitting to invite a few “lady chefs/culinary professionals” to weigh in on the “pro” vote where the contestants dishes were judged and balloted for a few fun trophies.
They were: Claire Calvin of The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Mary Haglund of Mary’s Gourmet Diner; Janis Karathanas of Providence Kitchen; Lynette Matthews-Murphy of Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar/Quanto Basta; and Lynn Warlick-Wells, Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef. Matthews-Murphy said she enjoyed being a part of it. “It’s interesting to see all the passion in these dishes. We work in this industry and it’s just so amazing to see that folks who aren’t in the industry find that passion that we also have.” She adds, “You know, people work all day and they come home and they get to be creative and cook for their family. And that’s how we started too…just creating in the kitchen and it’s wonderful to see that here.” Wells agreed, “Being the only judge from Greensboro, it was great to see all the folks here, meet some new people from all walks of life…. and the food was really good!”

IMG_9478

The “Ladies” Judges Panel: L to R: Mary Haglund (Mary’s Gourmet Diner); Claire Calvin (The Porch Kitchen & Cantina; Lynette Matthews-Murphy (Spring House Kitchen, Restaurant & Bar/Quanto Basta; Janis Karathanas (Providence Restaurant); Lynn Warlick Wells (Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef)

After the judges ballots were tabulated, the winners of the categories were:

Arts and Innovation Award (Most Creative): McConnell’s BBQ Green Beans
Dive Right In Award (Best Appearance/Presentation): Wall’s Spicy Apricot Glazed Chicken
Bonafide Award (Most Authentic): Chief Rountree’s Cops Chili
Yummy Award: (Tastiest): Hauser/McEachern/Hardy: Guacamole with Smoked Chicken

A “People’s Choice Award” was presented to the top chef who, in addition to donating their time for the event, raised the most tips in their tip jar. All donations support the Family House Mission. The SECU Family House only charges $35 a night to stay, but some folks may be in a financial crisis and those funds go to offset their stay. Winners of the People’s Choice Award was team Fitzgerald and Kent with their Pork Tenderloin. Kent said upon winning, “Events like this is what make Winston-Salem great. People see this turnout and they want to be a part of it. It’s a great cause and we’re so happy to be here.” In total “tip donations” the 20 chefs together raised over $10,000.

The event was such a resounding success that organizers know that they’ll be looking for a larger space for next year. For more information about SECU Family House, its mission, to learn how your organization or business can provide meals, and to learn more about Men Who Cook, visit familyhousews.org.

IMG_9484IMG_9487IMG_9492IMG_9495IMG_9498IMG_9500IMG_9505