Pride and partnerships

This article was originally published for Straus News.

June 20, 2018

New York City businesses are proud to participate in Pride Month this year.

NYC Pride has over 100 corporate, promotional and community sponsors. Several businesses are offering specials whose proceeds go toward an LGBTQ-friendly organization.

The London-based restaurant wagamama, which has two Manhattan locations (East Village and NoMad/Flatiron), is partnering with the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. The chain created a special juice blend called “proud” with Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, and its NYC restaurants will only offer the drink during Pride Month.

“We knew that Gus was a fan of wagamama so we reached out to see if he’d be interested in partnering,” said Faye O’Brien, the company’s U.S. marketing director. “He was excited to collaborate to raise money for the organization of his choice, The Trevor Project, tied to Pride. We are thrilled to be working with him to raise money for such an important cause.”

NYU Langone Health, New York University’s medical center, is coming in as a sponsor of NYC Pride for the first time this year, but it has previously participated in Pride, Chief Patient Experience Officer Joan Kelly said. Kelly also said the community’s response to NYU Langone’s support of NYC Pride has been positive.

“It’s been tremendous,” Kelly said. “We hadn’t expected it at the level that it is, but the community is so embracing anyway — particularly when they feel heard and supported. They’re helping us as we’ve grown and opened our Transgender Center of Excellence and whatnot. It’s hand in hand to say, ‘Oh, what are your needs? How are we making sure that we’re in the community where you are to support what you need?’”

Like NYU Langone, the fast-casual food joint Just Salad is sponsoring NYC Pride this year. It’s Just Salad’s third year in a row supporting the organization through its Big Gay Garden Salad, which features colorful vegetables laid out to resemble the rainbow Pride flag. Just Salad will donate $1 for each Big Gay Garden Salad sold to NYC Pride and is also offering Pride-themed T-shirts for sale.

“It started with consumer research where we found a lot of our customers were LGBT and also have a lot of LGBT teammates from our stores to our corporate office, and they are just a very big part of our organization, so we thought this would be a great way to show our support for them,” said Stephen Swartz, Just Salad’s marketing director.

Swartz and 50 Just Salad employees are expected to march in the city’s Pride parade as well. In a press release, NYC Pride Managing Director Chris Frederick said that the organization is thrilled to partner with the restaurant again and that Just Salad’s contributions help make NYC Pride events possible.

“These needed funds are crucial in allowing us to continue to inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate our diverse community,” Frederick said.

Swartz said that he was initially worried about a backlash, but Just Salad’s investors, customers and employees have only had positive remarks about the company’s support for NYC Pride.

“We’re already signing up for next year’s March when it’s gonna be World Pride in New York,” Swartz said.

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