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Cosmos giving back with free turkeys, toys

December 18, 2018

Panayiotis Bourounis stood outside of his restaurant, Cosmos House of Pancakes, offering turkeys to anyone walking up to the front door.

Monday was the sixth year of the turkey giveaway for the restaurant at 3232 St. Joe Center Road. Bourounis said it was his family-run restaurant’s goal to help 300 families in need by providing food and toys.

“Well, if it wasn’t for them, all the people in Fort Wayne, we wouldn’t be in existence,” Bourounis said. “I think it’s very important to give back, especially to the needy people in Fort Wayne. There’s a lot more homeless than people even know about, so it’s just our way to give back to the community.”

The original Cosmos Restaurant, started by Bourounis’ family in 1995, had a tradition of giving during the holidays. For many years, the restaurant was open on Thanksgiving, offering free meals to the public.

Over the years, it became more difficult to bring staff in on the holiday. When Bourounis opened his own restaurant, Cosmos House of Pancakes, he wanted to help the community, but didn’t want to make his staff work on Thanksgiving.

Instead, Bourounis and his wife, Stephanie, bought turkeys to give to those in need. More recently, their children, Daphne, 7, and Petros, 4, have donated their used toys.

This year, they were able to buy 300 turkeys and 30 new toys.

“I think the community supports us, and they love to see us doing positive things and giving back,” Stephanie Bourounis said. “I hear people talk about it all over town, so it’s really humbling.”

Owning a small business presents its own challenges, and that is no different when it comes to charitable endeavors.

Large corporations might receive items to donate as a perk for buying items in bulk, but small businesses often have to purchase their own, Stephanie Bourounis said.

In order to make their turkey giveaway possible, Cosmos uses cashback rewards from its Capital One credit card to pay for the turkeys and some toys.

The restaurant earned $6,000 by using its Spark Cash card for business purchases, according to Jenn Garbach, head of brand and marketing for Small Business Card at Capital One.

Garbach said small businesses face many end-of-year expenses, including client gifts, employee bonuses and project completions.

“Giving back can be a challenge on top of everything else that’s going on at the end of the year,” Garbach said. “So we see a lot of small businesses getting creative in order to make an impact in their community.”

Along with using cashback rewards for charity, Capital One suggests organizing volunteer outings, partnering with a nonprofit organization to donate a portion of sales to a cause, or hosting a food or toy drive.

As for the Bourounis family, it hopes to keep the tradition going and eventually passing it on to their children.

“I’m hoping the turkey giveaway tradition will last a lifetime for us,” Stephanie Bourounis said. “We really love it. As long as our business is around, I plan on doing it.”

Any leftover turkeys or toys will be donated to a women’s shelter.

cstefanski@jg.net 

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