Cause The Philanthropub, the restaurant and bar with a goal to give all its profits to charity, has closed. Co-founder Nick Vilelle announced that the restaurant wasn't making any profits, which meant no contributions to charity, and it would't remain open if it couldn't achieve its mission. "It's a tough industry, and we knew that going in," Vilelle says. "It's a multitude of factors. Maybe some of it had to do with where we were, or how we did things."
When D.C.'s first philanthropub opened last year, the restaurant's goal was to give away $100,000 in its first year. Unfortunately, from the beginning, Cause had been losing money. In August, Vilelle and co-founder Raj Ratwani released financial information for the first quarter of the year. The report revealed the restaurant lost nearly $9,000 but the business still gave four nonprofits $8,445 raised through small direct donations and sponsored events. Cause also closed temporarily in August to repair its air-conditioning unit and electrical system. The restaurant took to crowd-funding site Indiegogo to try to raise $11,000 for an overhaul, but ultimately raise a little more than $1,000.
Cause investors own the building at 1926 9th St. NW. Vilelle says they're still trying to figure out what to do with it. "Everything's pretty fresh right now," he says.
Ratwani says the closure is effective immediately. Below is the restaurant's message from the website:
It is with deep sadness that we report that CAUSE is closed for business. What started as an idea for a fun new way to help others has unfortunately not been able to achieve its purpose. Despite a great response from people around the country, CAUSE has not been able to achieve regular profitability, and thus not been able to generate the donations that were the reason for starting the restaurant. It is certainly a huge disappointment to us, as we truly believe in the idea but a number of factors have kept us from reaching our goals. We knew going in that it was a very difficult industry, but we hoped that the mission behind CAUSE would help carry us to success. We would like to thank our great team and the entire community that has been very supportive in this endeavor.
While CAUSE will no longer be offering philanthropic pints, people interested in this form of business can follow OKRA in Houston and The Oregon Public House in Portland that are operating under similar business models.