The Roma owner Michael Fraser on Partnering with Feed Kids
On a recent visit to Roma, I was lucky enough to talk with not only owner Michael Fraser but also Jason Loring, owner of Nosh and Slab. The two men own other restaurants together, and both are enthusiastic participants in the Feed Kids program. Part of Full Plates Full Potential, the program is a turnkey cause marketing and crowdfunding initiative designed to take action toward ending child hunger in Maine. It’s as simple as designating one menu item, and donating one dollar every time that item is purchased. “We sat down with John Woods (FPFP Co-Founder),” says Loring. “We were growing our businesses and wanted to find a way to give back. Fraser jumped all over this idea.”
At Roma, every time a diner orders the Caesar salad, Feed Kids benefits. “It was a no-brainer for us to do the Caesar,” says Fraser. “John wanted us to do one of our most popular items, and this is it.” A Full Plates Full Potential logo on the Roma menu indicates the restaurant’s commitment to helping eradicate child hunger in Maine. “It sparks conversation,” says Fraser. “Our waitstaff is familiar with the program and can explain it to anyone who asks.”
Roma opened in August of 2017, after a full renovation of what had been a beloved Portland institution for decades. Now, Roma is back to serving up old-school Italian-American dishes, including tagliatelle Bolognese, linguine with clams and much more. The Caesar salad is one of the best-selling dishes at Roma, an old-school classic of crisp romaine lettuce, a shower of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and of course, optional anchovies. Tallberg’s talent and the welcoming atmosphere have made Roma a Portland destination all over again.
Roma was the first restaurant to sign on with Feed Kids. As funds accumulate, Feed Kids partners may select projects that have direct meaning to them and their community through the Fund Local initiative, where schools across Maine can request funds for a specific project. Expanding breakfast or requesting a classroom cart for breakfast foods are popular requests. “Too many kids who are eligible for free or reduced cost breakfast go without. Our goal is to increase the participation rate,” says Woods. “The restaurants can become active players in choosing where their donations go.” Fraser and his team can go on the Full Plates Full Potential website to find the project they want to support. “John just makes it super easy,” says Fraser. “He has the system set up and the statistics to show that the program is working.”
“I just think it’s a great program,” Fraser says. “The community supports us and we’re trying to find ways to give back to the community.”
Karen Watterson ~ an independent voice, hungry for Maine food and craving the stories behind it. #wellfedwellsaid