In 2007, “stand up for heroes,” a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which helps injured veterans, debuted at the 1,400-seat Town Hall during the New York Comedy Festival. The event soon moved to the 2,800-seat Beacon Theatre. By last year “Stand Up” had moved up to the Theater at Madison Square Garden, which holds 5,500 people.
This year’s benefit, on Nov. 5, has grown beyond the theater to dozens of locations in the city. The Garden will host the comedy (Louis C.K., Jon Stewart, John Oliver) and the music (Bruce Springsteen) and this fundraiser’s newest ingredient, Dine Out for Heroes, expands its presence to restaurants ranging from 5 Napkin Burger to the Russian Tea Room.
“We want to keep upping the ante,” says Caroline Hirsch, founder of Caroline’s and the festival. Peter and Penny Glazier, who own Michael Jordan’s the Steakhouse, suggested the campaign: Participating restaurants will donate a dollar per meal served and customers will get pledge cards at their table.
“It’s a great way to build awareness for the foundation,” says Drew Nieporent, the man behind Nobu, Batard and the Tribeca Grill, who has already donated food from Nobu for the talent each year.
“It’s amazing how many restaurateurs want to participate,” says Woodruff, whose foundation funds worthy programs that provide hands-on help for veterans.
The list of restaurants grows every day, Hirsch adds. “We just spoke to Buzzy O’Keeffe, who owns the Water Club and the River Cafe, and he’s really excited about it.”
Hirsch adds that this fledgling program is “taking baby steps” but she anticipates teaming with credit card and liquor companies in the future. “This is a start, but I see it growing.”