OPINIONMarketing

Restaurants are putting some dollars behind their Pride Month rainbows

Marketing Bites: Restaurant operators big and small seem to be realizing that “rainbow washing” doesn’t mean much if it’s not backed up by donations.
Chipotle employees celebrate Pride Month. | Photo courtesy of Chipotle.

Marketing Bites

I’ve compiled Pride Month restaurant roundups for the last half-dozen years or so and, maybe I’m just becoming more optimistic in my old age, but it does seem like more restaurants this year are ponying up some dollars behind those rainbows than in the past.  

They’re donating to local and national causes that support LGBTQIA+ organizations, rather than just plopping a limited-time cupcake with rainbow sprinkles on the menu in June and calling it good.

Perhaps it’s a move driven by altruism, or one fueled by growing consumer demand (especially among Gen Z) for purpose-driven companies that communicate a strong mission.

This is a group of consumers that doesn’t worry about calling out brands for greenwashing (phony claims of environmental support), pinkwashing (bogus support of breast cancer awareness organizations) and, in this case, rainbow washing for less-than-stellar backing of LGBTQIA+ causes.

Plus, there’s a growing number of people, especially young people, who identify as LGBTQIA+: A record 7.6% of the general population and more than one in five Gen Z adults identified as a member of the group in 2023, according to Gallup data cited by Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Here’s a look at some of the latest Pride Month offerings at restaurants around the country:

  • Chipotle is giving away 500 “Love What Makes You Real” uniform shirts to employees, as well as participating in several Pride parades. The fast-casual burrito chain is also selling “The Pride Edit” rainbow merch, donating $10 per item sold to GLAAD, with a maximum donation of $25,000. Until June 16, Chipotle customers can round up their order totals, with donations going to GLAAD.
  • Chicago-based multiconcept operator Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is running a number of Pride Month observances. Aba will host its third-annual Pride Power Hour on June 27, with half of sales from a special menu going to Brave Space Alliance. Beatrix will donate $1 from every Pineapple Habanero Margarita sold during June to a community support center. Plus, Nosotros Tequila will match the donation. Ema will donate $1 from every Strawberry Rhubarb Negroni sold to Howard Brown Health, which works with the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Snooze A.M. Eatery will donate 25 cents from each Pride Pancake it sells through July 3 to the Trevor Project, which works to end suicide among LGBTQIA+ young people. The breakfast chain said it will donate up to $30,000 to the organization, building on the nearly $100,000 it has donated over the past three years. Snooze employees will also march in Pride parades around the country.
  • Ruby Slipper is offering the Pride Flight, a selection of different mimosas, with $1 from each going to national support organization PFLAG.
  • Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails, located in San Antonio, Texas, is selling four different options on its Loud & Pride Cocktail Menu, with $1 from each sale going to Pride Center San Antonio.
  • Eatertainment chain Flight Club is selling a signature Pride Cocktail and Rainbow Cake, with 100% of proceeds going to local LGBTQIA+ organizations.

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