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Restaurants give back

The American Society Relay for Life received $1,660 through Raising Dough and Parsons Child and Family Center was awarded $1,364 in June.

"We always try to make it a local cause. There are a lot of great national causes but we want to make sure money we're able to raise goes right back into the community to help locally," said Gathen.

The clientele on fundraiser nights is a mix.

"We'll always have guests come in that don't know, but usually there'll be representatives from the organization that night that will have indicated they'll have this many people coming in," said Gathen.

Whether aware or unaware about the option to donate 30 percent to a designated organization on behalf of the restaurant, Gathen said guests are almost always willing to participate.

"Many will extend additional donations on top of that out of their own pocket, which is pretty amazing," said Gathen.

Regular fundraising programs and special events like the "Afternoon of Wine" at Forno's Bistro on June 11 that benefited Friends of Hannah Hughes Fund are important to the owner and employees of all the restaurants within DZ Restaurants, said Gathen.

"We're nothing without the community and support we receive from Saratoga and Clifton Park. David Zecchini [owner] looked at this as a real opportunity to give back to the people who give so much to us," said Gathen. "He said, 'I want to do more because we can do little contributions but how can we make a real difference and give back to people who have supported us and helped us become part of this community?'"

The restaurants' support of local non-profits has made them community establishments, said Gathen.

"It solidifies us as part of the community. People help each other when you're really part of a community and care for your neighbors and this is a way to say we're more than just a restaurant," said Gathen.

The restaurants are always looking for new organizations to support and Gathen is currently working on the schedule for 2012. Applications can be found online at www.chiantiristorante.com and www.pastapane.com.

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