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Oct. 16, 2021 | Saturday
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‘Backhouse to the Future’ turns birthday party into fundraiser
Daniel Tong and Backhouse owner and head chef Ryan Crawford celebrate Backhouse to the Future. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Local chef and owner of Backhouse Restaurant turned a birthday celebration into a themed fundraising event, bringing local businesses and residents together for a good cause.

Raising money for Community Crew, an organization that focuses on feeding kids in the Niagara Region affected by poverty, Backhouse Restaurant raised about $2,500 over the course of the evening to donate to the charity on March 13.

Ryan Crawford, chef and proprietor of Backhouse, said it was a great opportunity to raise some money for an organization doing good work for the community. Celebrating his 40th birthday, Crawford said he always enjoys throwing parties, but wanted to bring the focus to something more meaningful.

“I always like hosting a party. It’s a way to say thanks to my friends. Usually, everyone brings you a bottle of wine or whatever, I don’t need a bottle of wine. I’d rather do it for something.”

He said his good friend, Erica Lepp, is a lunch angel for the Community Crew, and he remembered the organization is always on the lookout for money to feed more kids.

“It was just a natural fit.”

Sarah Pitrula, Community Crew director, said this is the first fundraising event Backhouse has partnered with the charity orgnization for. She said the organization is a local non-profit charity that goes into schools providing lunches for kids in need.

“We go in and say to the teachers that we have this lunch program, we’d love to provide some healthy lunches for the kids. Do you think your school would have a need for this.”

She said the program feeds about 550 kids across seven schools right now — each week — and the program continues to grow. Right now, the program is once a week but she said the group is looking to provide meals more often. Funds raised through the Backhouse charity event will go in to the lunch program.

The theme for the night, Backhouse to the Future, was just a fun way to bring people in for the evening. He said he was listening to golden oldies one day and the idea to host a ‘50s themed party came to him. Adding the ‘Back to the Future’ element to the night, he said he had to include the ‘80s, because that’s the premise of the movie. “It morphed into that kind of party.”

Sporting an outfit reminiscent of Marty McFly from the classic ‘80s film, Crawford dove into the theme of the night.

He said it was a good turnout, with more than 100 people showing up throughout the evening.

Crediting the donations and time volunteered by local businesses, he said it was an evening for the community.

“All the chefs were behind the line helping cook, all working together, behind the bar where the brewers, distillers, winery staff were all helping to serve and pour and that kind of stuff.”

Aside from the Backhouse’s contributions to the night, food was provided by Lavishly Simple, Pieza Pizzeria, Garrison House, oddBird, and Tide and Vine. Wineries, breweries and distillers also took part: Stratus Vineyards, Vineland Estates Winery, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Bench Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewery and Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers.

The restaurant had two jars for monetary donations near the door and a guess-the-corks game set up. Crawford said there were 420 corks in the jar, the best guess was 419.

After the success of the evening, he said he would plan a similar event in the future, adding that he participates in fundraising events throughout the year as well.