Bar Open to Raise Money for Charity


You pay to eat and drink. They pay the bills. All the profits go to charity. A deal like this is being offered at Cause, a new restaurant and bar at 1926 9th St. NW.

Cause is known as a philanthropub. A philanthropub is a new term that means a bar where having a good time helps a good cause.

 “A friend of ours . . . she’s been kinda helping us pro bono, her and her PR firm, BRG communications . . . she kinda came up with the term and we were like ya know that’s, that’s kind of it, combining bar and philanthropy,” said Nick Vilelle, one the co-founders of Cause. 

After five years of service for Peace Corps in Togo, Africa, Vilelle came back to an idea his friend, Raj Ratwani, had been “kicking around” as Vilelle put it. The idea happened to be developed as 32-year-old Vilelle and Ratwani were both having a beer in a bar.

“Just seeing everybody out and having a good time that’s exciting but also me coming from that perspective of being abroad and . . . in Togo and seeing all that money change hands, we kinda blend these two things in what we want to achieve in terms of creating impact for people less fortunate as well as just continuing to allow people to enjoy themselves,” Vilelle said.

According to the Cause website, due to the suffering economy people are faced with the challenge of deciding to give to charity or partake in day-to-day activities.  There are people who want to give but cannot find the time or money to donate to charities. Vilelle’s and Ratwani’s goals are to get more people involved and to give exposure to grass-root organizations.

“It’s an easier more fun way to get young people involved in it as they grow up and make more money . . . they’re gonna be a little bit smarter about . . . what a good organization is, but I think it’s especially a good time to reach out to younger people. If you look at them they are the next generation of philanthropists,” Vilelle said.

Vilelle and Ratwani want to pass the torch of giving. After the rent, utilities and staff salaries are paid, 100 percent of the profit goes to the selected charities of that quarter. They also want to make sure that the people know where the money is going.

“We are going to make our financial statements public so that people don’t have to worry that we are taking large salaries or anything like that, and so they can see exactly how much money we are giving away.  We will do that at the end of each three months, when we are making our donations to the charitable organizations,” Vilelle said.

In order to make ends meet, Ratwani who has a doctoral degree in Cognitive Psychology, has kept his full time job.  Vilelle, who is a cognitive psychologist and has helped and advised the operations of small businesses, does consulting work on the side.

Cause is a bar and a restaurant that has a menu that consists of food with sustainable ingredients, so they will be getting their food from local farms instead of getting them from half way across the country.

“So it’s kind of upscale bar food. We have a lot of creative sandwiches, burgers, a lot of vegetarian options and just a lot of seasonal dishes so if its grapefruit season or if its mango season, etc. We are gonna try and feature those things,” Vilelle said.

Vilelle and Ratwani want people to know that they will not be pressured or guilted into donating. They want Cause to be treated like every other bar.

 “You can come in with your friends, have dinner, have drinks and never have to be involved in the charitable aspect of what we’re doing . . . just by coming you’ve done something to help charity because 100% of the profit that comes out of your meal and our organization are gonna be donated,” Vilelle said.