Trey and Kristen Cummings wanted to give back to the community that has so freely given to them over the last 10 years. Through their recent anniversary celebration, the Cummings were able to raise thousands of dollars that will be distributed to local schools.
Eat, Drink and Support the Schools was a huge success, says Kristen, and has afforded the business an opportunity to donate a total of $10,000 to Sampson County and Clinton City schools.
“This event couldn’t have turned out any better,” Kristen said late last week, as the final numbers from the Feb. 8-13 fundraising were tallied. “I am beyond thrilled at the turnout each night and the seated event was very impressive.”
The Cummings opened Ribeyes Feb. 9, 2006, just after calling Clinton home. When the restaurant first opened, it was Trey and Kristen who ran the kitchen and served the food with the help of a handful of others. In the last 10 years, that has changed quite a bit, as the Cummings now entrust the food to chefs Ben Baker and Jorge Soza and the service to more than 30 employees.
“We wanted to give back to the community that has supported us,” Kristen said about the fundraising.
Throughout the week-long celebration, Trey and Kristen invited guest chefs to come in and provide nightly specials for patrons. The best of those was set aside for Feb. 9, as the restaurant closed the doors to the public and provided a five-course meal, prepared by Baker and Soza, to 100 people.
All the proceeds from that night are part of the $10,000 donation Trey and Kristen will be making to the local school systems. A percentage of sales from Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were added to the total from Tuesday night’s event.
According to Kristen, the $10,000 will be divided equally among Clinton City and Sampson County schools.
“I want the schools and teachers to tell us what they need, and from that, we will purchase the supplies and give them to the schools,” Kristen said. “We are working with local superintendents to get a collective list of what each school needs.”
Both Trey and Kristen are strong supporters of the local schools, and that’s why they wanted to turn their success into a positive for both systems.
“It just breaks my heart to see the issues our teachers have with supplies,” Kristen said. “They have enough to worry about, they shouldn’t have to worry about supplies too.”
Many of the employees from local schools volunteered during the week-long event. Some worked as servers and hostesses, while others, like local art teachers, provided entertaining services for the children. A total of 17 volunteers worked during the Tuesday night dinner.
“The volunteers were amazing,” Kristen said. “It looked like all of them had worked like this before.”
Matthew Register, Richard Kugleman and Debbie Valenti were just three of the guest chefs who prepared food during the week-long celebration.
A great deal of the food was donated for the fundraiser. Double Barley Brewing of Smithfield donated the beer and Mutual Distributing donated the wine. Smithfield Foods and US Foods also donated food for Tuesday night and the Atrium Florist provided decor.
According to Kristen, Ribeyes has grown since its opening in 2006. When it first opened, the restaurant operated six days a week for dinner only. Now, the restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, never closing before 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on the weekends.
Ribeyes’ menu has grown in the last 10 years as well. What started as a meat and potatoes endeavor has evolved into a smorgasbord of homegrown delicacies. Along with the jalapenos on the roof, lettuce, Cajun spicy peppers, Brussels sprouts, basil, rosemary and mint are all growing in a garden alongside the restaurant, located at 100 Westover Road, and there are plentiful other future ingredients growing in fields across Sampson.
“I am so amazed at the outpouring of love we have seen,” Kristen said. “This is a great community and we love being a part of it.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.