Patrick’s Grille was founded to offer excellent dining to the people of Michigan City, but the people behind the restaurant provide much more than that. Owner Patrick Wilkins and General Manager Julie Krause both believe in giving back to the community that has been so welcoming to them, and now their biggest charity activity is right around the corner.
“The biggest thing we do is Toys for Tots,” said Krause. “We offer a complimentary appetizer for every guest that brings in a toy, and then the restaurant donates $1,000 back to Toys for Tots.”
While the Toys for Tots campaign runs through the holiday season, the staff of Patrick’s Grille serve the community in a variety of ways year-round. They sponsor events, such as La Porte Family Advocate’s Black & White Ball and Friendship Botanic Gardens’ “The Future is Brighter with YOU” gala, and work closely with the A.K. Smith Career Center to provide students with real-world culinary experience.
“Chef Rick Bruggeman and I are on their advisory board,” said Krause. “We work with culinary teachers to help keep their program active and improve it. We actually take on some of the students, either at Patrick’s Grille in our kitchen area or in our Sunset Grille location, and we give them real experience in the restaurant industry.”
Aside from giving students a taste of the chef life, Patrick’s Grille supports the program by donating money back to the career center for the time the students work. Currently, the restaurant is planning a fundraiser to help send the students on the culinary adventure of a lifetime.
“The Food Network is doing a culinary competition at Disney. A.K. Smith is working on sending eight students and two instructors, so we're going to do a give back and try to help them raise those funds to get those students there,” said Krause. “They need $35,000, so we're going to try and help get as much for them as we can.”
Patrick’s Grille also has a private dining room that the restaurant often rents out to organizations that they then form relationships with. Stepping Stone Shelter for Women uses the room to organize, and now Patrick’s Grille delivers meals to the shelter each month.
Krause thinks that all the work Patrick’s Grille does in the community is directly related to how successful the restaurant has been.
“I've always said if you want your community to support you, you need to support your community,” said Krause. “We get a lot of people who will come in who haven't heard of us but have seen us when we're out there and we're doing stuff. They're like, ‘Oh, we should give that a try.’ I think it has helped business.”
Even if the work wasn’t attracting new customers, the Patrick’s Grille team would continue to do it. For them, it isn’t about making more money.
“We realize that there are people who don't have it as well as we do, and people need as much of our help as we give them,” said Krause.
Eventually, Krause would like to see the restaurant get back to where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were supporting a different nonprofit every month,” said Krause. “I would like to get back to that point, where we could do that and take on a nonprofit every month.”
When asked how the Michigan City community could help Patrick’s Grille in its philanthropic endeavors, Krause said that the best thing a person can do is to come in and enjoy a nice meal at the restaurant.
“Just keep supporting us as patrons. We do truly care about the community and we do truly want to stay a part of it,” said Krause. “The best way for us to do that is to have the community support us and help us to stay in business.”
To learn more about Patrick’s Grille and the menu on offer, visit their website at patricksgrille.com.