Here’s some food for thought: What if giving to charity were as simple as dropping into your local gastropub for a burger and beer? In Washington D.C. it is, thanks to restaurant revolutionaries Nick Vilelle and Raj Ratwani and their nonprofit “PhilanthroPub” CAUSE.

Fittingly (and like all great ideas, in our opinion), this idea was formulated over beer. Vilelle was crashing on Ratwani’s couch after a two-year Peace Corps tour in West Africa. They went for a drink in a pub, not unlike the one they would end up opening together, where they started discussing ways that charitable giving could become charitable living. The duo noted that young professionals may have the urge to give back but not the time; however, everybody has time to grab a burger and a beer.

As Vilelle had seen firsthand, the price of a beer on tap, sadly, is practically equal to what people in certain parts of the world live off in an entire year. So they got to thinking: What if the money they spent drinking and having a good time could literally do good? Vilelle already had seen “what amazing organizations on the grassroots level can do with a small amount of money to change people’s lives.”

Thus, the inception of the PhilanthroPub. Four years later, CAUSE was in effect.

Image by Sarah Matista Photography

Vilelle and Ratwani have a simple business model: donate 100% of all profits. The initial money the restaurant earns covers the overhead, including salaries for the cooks and waitstaff, but they themselves do not take a salary (they both have full-time day jobs). The CAUSE Advisory Board selects three to six charities to feature each quarter; currently funds are going to Sub-Saharan African farmers, a mentoring program for African American boys, and an inner city education program.

Vilelle says, “We hope [CAUSE will] be our first location, because we really feel there’s a lot of potential with this model. There’s no reason that we can’t replicate this in different cities across the country, as well as countries around the world.”

It looks like that may truly be in the cards. In CAUSE’s first year of operation, Vilelle and Ratwani has already been contacted by those interested in following its business model and opening PhilanthroPubs in other cities around the country.

Adds Ratwani, “This is just the start.”


See more about the PhilanthoPUB at