HUNTERSVILLE – JD Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, and his wife, Melissa, gave away a total of $16,000 to three charities July 18.
The amount is 100 percent of all first-quarter profits made by their new Groucho’s Deli franchise at Rosedale Commons. The deli opened in March.
The Gibbs gave checks of $5,000 to Lake Norman Young Life, $5,000 to Levine Children’s Hospital and $6,000 to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
All profits from Groucho’s, yes all, will continue to go to various charities, which will change every three months but will always include Young Life.
Next quarter’s recipients will be Young Life Multicultural, Charlotte Rescue Mission and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.
Diners can designate on their bill one of the three charities featured.
The impetus for this business model came from the Gibb’s desire to raise money for Lake Norman Young Life, a Christian ministry to high school students.
For 15 years, the Gibbs family has served on the ministry's fundraising and administrative board.
“After 15 years on the committee, you get the same ol’ (fundraisers) – the golf tournament, the banquet, the golf tournament, the banquet,” Melissa said. “Somebody challenged us to think outside the box.”
JD became a Christian through Young Life when he was a sophomore at Oakton High School in northern Virginia.
“Young Life changed my life,” he said.
For three years in their early marriage, JD and Melissa volunteered as Young Life leaders. The day after the check presentation, the Gibbs’ oldest son, Jackson, was leaving with 10 other football players for a week of Young Life camp.
The connection to cancer-related charities comes out of the Gibbs’ own journey with Taylor, their 9-year old son. Taylor was diagnosed with leukemia at the age 2 but has been in remission and will be considered cured in April 2015.
Taylor used Make-A-Wish to go to Disney California Adventure, where the grandson of former NFL coach Joe Gibbs wanted to see, what else, Cars Land. Taylor gets treatment at Levine Children’s Hospital.
Inspiration for their not-for-profit business came from a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., that gives all its profits to community outreach programs.
The Gibbs family toyed with starting a coffee shop, yogurt store or Subway. They settled on a Groucho’s Deli franchise because they loved the food, and there were not any franchises in the Charlotte area.
Melissa grew up craving Groucho’s subs and sauce in her hometown of Columbia, S.C. Over the years, JD and the four Gibbs boys also came to love the restaurant, which has grown to 29 locations.
A big win for everyone
The first-quarter profits have exceeded the expectations of the Gibbs and the Groucho’s corporation.
Cindy Sutton, of Groucho’s, said the Huntersville store has already pushed other stores to do more philanthropic work.
“People have come in because they like the concept of giving back to the local community initially,” Melissa said, “and then the food is really good!”