Put your money where your mouth is. Perhaps easier said than done, but modern Mexican restaurant group Tocaya Organica (tocayaorganica.com) is doing just that with its new philanthropic arm, Tocaya Life Foundation. The organization is dedicated to supporting social and environmental causes throughout Southern California. The fast-casual eatery serves a vegan-friendly menu of tacos, burritos, salads and bowls, and is committed to using sustainable ingredients and supporting responsible farming and ﬁshing practices. Three likeminded nonproﬁts are invited each quarter to meet with a panel of Tocaya’s executives and compete in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition called Wave Tank. The winning nonproﬁt collaborates with Tocaya on the chosen menu item (or creates a new one) to be featured across the eateries, and later, a portion of its sales are donated back to the charity. Remaining Wave Tank competitors each receive a cash donation—$10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place—toward future fundraising eﬀorts. Infusing the same generosity and mindfulness into its company culture, Tocaya also launched new employee initiatives including paid time oﬀ to volunteer, as well as responsible waste and sustainability practices.
From The Heart
Photos and details about Corazon de Vida, a nonprofit supporting orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, prominently line the walls at Tahona mezcaleria and restaurant (tahonabar.com). Co-founder Amar Harrag established the San Diego chapter of the nonprofit, which currently supports 10 orphanages with more than 550 children, and more than 60 college scholarships. “In July, we opened the first art center at Rancho de los Ninos orphanage to provide expressive art therapy,” Harrag said. “This is a pilot program we hope to expand to other orphanages by 2020.”
Food For Good
Bestowing a gift to the community that helped launch his Italian restaurant empire to success, Matteo Cattaneo, owner of the family of eateries (buonaforchettasd.com), will open his new namesake passion project, Matteo—San Diego’s second nonproﬁt restaurant—in South Park in early 2020. All proﬁts from the cafe are donated to charities with a special focus on education and childhood development. The charities will rotate quarterly, beginning with North Park’s McKinley School Foundation. Prospective nonproﬁt partners can submit applications online to the Buona Forchetta leadership team.
Taking over the former Rebecca’s Coﬀee House space eight blocks from the original Buona Forchetta location, Matteo will serve breakfast, brunch and lunch, plus takeaway items and baked goods such as housemade bread and Italian croissants. As an additional gift to the community, Matteo will include a dedicated workshop space for kids, where they will host cooking classes and other interactive events. A native of Bergamo, Italy, Cattaneo brought his delectable Neapolitan-style pizzas to San Diego in 2013, and with Matteo, he’ll continue to give back to his adopted home away from home.