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These may be tough times for charities looking for donations, but The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurants-37 of them nationwide-managed to raise $59,923 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in a St. Patrick’s fundraising drive.

Ten California franchises in California, owned by Sacramento’s Dariotis family, raised $23,134.  This was an increase of 106 percent over last year’s accomplishment of $11,206. A pair of locally owned Old Spaghetti Factories were the top two in the nation. The Rancho Cucamonga store raised $8,078, and the Roseville location garnered $4,002. 

Julie Graham, district manager for the Dariotis franchises, said, ‘Knowing it would be a real challenge this year, we asked our managers to do a thorough job, to be enthusiastic.  They came through like winners.  Even in a slow economy our guests were willing to purchase our shamrocks to help send some children to camp.’

At each location, paper shamrocks were sold in increments of $1 or $5. The dollar donation earned a green shamrock; the $5 ones got gold. The shamrocks were placed on the restaurant walls, with the purchaser’s name printed on them.

Michael Dariotis, one of the owners, says the diners were given gift certificates for their donations.  Green got one for free cheese bread on the next visit.  Gold earned a free child’s meal.

Dariotis is proud of his staff for handling the program so effectively.  ‘Our customers deserve the real praise,’ he said. ‘They are the generous, caring people who made us all proud.’

Dariotis expects to have a couple of managers present a $23,134 check at the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon on Labor Day weekend in Sacramento.

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