5 Charity-Driven Bars that do Social Good

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Tim Martens wasn’t interested in saving the world — he just knew he didn’t want to own a full-fledged bar again. He had already helmed several popular wine bars in Portland, Oregon, which was fun, but exhausting.

But when a nonprofit organization approached Martens about consulting for a new economic development project, he was intrigued. The project was the Portland Mercado, a public market that rented out affordable retail space to Latino business owners who were often dipping their toes into the world of entrepreneurship for the first time. An indoor/outdoor market selling everything from fresh produce to meats, cheeses, and even prepared Latin foods sounded great, but Martens thought something was missing — a bar.

Martens’ Barrio opened at the Mercado this past April, and while he has been enjoying running this scaled-back version of a watering hole, he’s found that he’s enjoyed working with the Mercado entrepreneurs themselves even more. In addition to his unofficial role as business mentor, Martens gives back to this community of entrepreneurs by donating a percentage of his bar’s profits to the Mercado.

Barrio isn’t the only bar out there dedicated to doing a little good. Read on to learn about five bars in the U.S. that are not only serving up quality cocktails and brews, but also serving the communities in which they sling their alcoholic wares.

OKRA Charity Saloon

Houston, Texas

Photo via OKRA/Facebook

This not-for-profit bar in the heart of downtown Houston donates 100 percent of its proceeds to area charities through a fun, competitive voting system. For every drink purchased, a bar patron gets to cast a vote for one of four selected charities; at the end of the month, the charity with the most votes takes home the dough generated during the next month. Playing up rivalries has clearly paid off: The bar has raised over $600,000 in donations for area charities since 2013.


Portland, Oregon

Photo via Barrio/Facebook

At Barrio, Martens and his co-owner Chris Shimamoto have developed an innovative menu of Latin-inspired cocktails and rare South American beers and wines not often found in the U.S., since they wanted the drinks they serve to align with the Mercado’s mission of supporting Latino businesses. Sipping sangria in Barrio’s beautiful outdoor seating area while snacking on Latin goods purchased from one of the Mercado’s food carts has got to be the most laid-back way to give back to the community ever. Cheers to that.

Madam’s Organ Blues Bar

Washington, D.C.

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Photo via Madam’s Organ/Facebook

This raucous bar in the nation’s capital puts on its “community service” cap every Thursday for Nonprofits Profit night. The selected nonprofit receives $1 from every food and drink purchase from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, plus a feature on Madam’s Organ website and a chance to sell merchandise, solicit donations, or hold auctions at the bar to maximize their fundraising opportunity. With the bar’s four different levels and five distinct bars — and the fine slogan of “Where the beautiful people go to get ugly” — we have a feeling local D.C. charities totally rack up on Thursdays at Madam’s Organ.

Oregon Public House

Portland, Oregon

Photo via Oregon Public House/Facebook

“Have a pint, change the world.” That’s the directive at Portland’s Oregon Public House, and it’s one that patrons obey with gusto. Visitors to this bar can choose which charity gets to reap the profits from their food and drink purchases from a rotating list of about five to 10 different local organizations. The folks behind Oregon Public House have even gotten into the brewing business with their hoppy yet well-balanced Do Gooder IPA. Now that’s “aletruism” at its best.

Craft and Growler

Dallas, Texas

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Photo via Craft and Growler

On Tuesdays at this Dallas pub and beer filling station, every pint you down before 8 p.m. translates to a $1 toward a local charity — so drink up! Craft and Growler also supports the local community (of beer enthusiasts, at least) by serving locally brewed beers from Dallas and other regions of Texas. Plus, this place boasts the largest selection of growlers in the world, so come for the chance to get your social good sippin’ on and stay to browse the overwhelming number of beer-related goodies.