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Customers queue up in the cold, wait hours for free food at Café Rio

By April Ashland

LOGAN — Between 1,200 and 1,600 college students, community members, and high school students gathered Tuesday when Café Rio opened its doors in order to give back to the community.

Five jars were placed next to the cash register, labeled with the names of four elementary schools and one middle school in Cache Valley that participated in the fundraiser held by the local restaurant. Ben Craner, head of marketing, said he contacted all schools in Cache Valley, but only five responded – Adams Elementary School, Hillcrest Elementary School, Mount Logan Middle School, Wilson Elementary, and Woodruff Elementary.

“It’s important that we give back to the community we’re a part of,” Craner said. “We tried this in another market and got a great response, so we thought we’d try it here.”

The school that received the most in donations will have the full amount matched by Café Rio. The other schools will get all proceeds their school collected.

Craner said Café Rio also contacted the Utah State University campus clubs, to offer them the opportunity to also receive a prize for their club. Next to the five jars for donations was a clipboard where club members could write their organization and tally how many people from each club.

The winning club will receive either 100 free meals or $1,000 in catering from Café Rio. Rather than simply do a one-day deal with the university clubs, however, Craner said the challenge will continue until Saturday. He will announce the winner Sunday.

Lindsey Kim is a member of one such club, the Asian American Student Council, and said she was thrilled to hear about the opportunity.

“I think it’s great that they’re willing to give back,” Kim said. “I mean, it kind of sucks that it has to be a competition, but it makes sense; how else are they to decide who to give back to?”

Kim is the new president for the AASC club, and sent out a text to friends, family, and club members Tuesday to spread the word, because it was a quick and efficient way to notify everyone. “Free food at Café Rio today! When you go, fill out the paper with AASC,” it said.

Preston Buble, a student at USU, attended the event with some of his friends. He and his friends waited about an hour in line, but said it was totally worth it. “It was freaking awesome because it was free Café Rio,” he said.

Café Rio was mostly empty except for those standing in line, because by the time patrons reached the check-out line, they were sick of the place, at least that’s what Brecklyn Tomlinson said when the woman asked if her meal was to stay or go.
“To go,” Tomlinson said. “I can’t stay here another minute.”

NW