Across Central Texas, people filled drive-thrus and seats inside the 16 P. Terry’s Burger Stand and two Taco Ranch locations on Saturday for Giving Back Day.
"The city did not disappoint," said Patrick Terry, co-founder of P. Terry’s and Taco Ranch.
Two trucks roamed Central Texas to resupply the stores as employees kept drive-thru lines and order counters moving.
Four times a year, the restaurant chain donates 100% of the profits for that day to a local charity. For 11 years, Statesman Season for Caring has been the chosen nonprofit organization for the December Giving Back Day.
"Everybody knows most likely Season for Caring is going to be the biggest day of the year, and again it was," Patrick Terry said.
Saturday’s event raised $39,227.27, the single biggest Giving Back Day since P. Terry’s started the tradition when it opened its first store in 2005.
"It was a great day," he said.
P. Terry’s and now Taco Ranch have donated more than $273,227 to Season for Caring, which each year features the stories of 12 families nominated by local nonprofit organizations and then helps hundreds of other families through those organizations.
With this Giving Back Day, P. Terry’s has now given about $1.02 million to local charities.
"Today’s a great day to celebrate all the charities I think we’ve helped, but most of all the City of Austin has come along with us with this and obviously been a major part of it," Patrick Terry said.
RELATED: Hear the Terrys talk about Giving Back Days
"The Giving Back Day allows everyone to participate," P. Terry’s co-founder Kathy Terry said. "A little kid can buy a cookie, and he knows a portion of that is going to be going to a nonprofit. It also shows if we all participate how much we can all truly move the needle."
Opening up a burger stand was always Patrick Terry’s dream, and he talked about it when he and Kathy were dating. "He’s like the pied piper," Kathy Terry said. "He had a way of selling it. We all bought in."
"I always had this love affair with burgers, fries and a shake," Patrick Terry said. "It just seems so American to me. ... It seems so simple to me."
Kathy is detailed oriented and the one to get it done, he said.
With the opening of that first store on South Lamar Boulevard and Barton Springs Road, there were growing pains.
"We really couldn’t believe people kept coming back," Patrick Terry said. "We really didn’t know what we were doing. The computer would break down and we would go out and take orders by hand. People were rooting for us."
He remembers when they opened the second location, with the chain’s first dining room, and saw a group of little boys jumping out of their parents’ car and running toward the dining room.
"It was what we were trying to achieve ... a place where people would genuinely be excited to go to," he said. They also wanted their places to be affordable, with high-quality, all-natural food that had to taste good.
This year, the Terrys have had an eye on expansion, which has meant a new chief operating officer and new chief financial officer.
Next year, P. Terry’s has seven new restaurants planned including one in Georgetown, one on Parmer Lane and Interstate 35, one in New Braunfels and one in San Antonio. P. Terry’s raised money from friends and family to fund this expansion.
Patrick and Kathy Terry stay on as co-founders, with the job of making sure the culture of P. Terry’s remains what it has been.
That culture includes having someone who makes a birthday cake for every employee, giving more than $100,000 in holiday bonuses, offering interest-free loans to employees, and giving each employee a choice of a ham or turkey at Thanksgiving.
"There are a lot of things that are really special little things we try to do for our employees," Kathy Terry said.
Their employees have gown with them. One employee started cleaning the restaurant at Westlake and now manages five stores.
"It’s our family," Kathy Terry said.
They have criteria for choosing which charities to feature in Giving Back Days. It needs to be local and have an immediate effect on the people receiving donations, Patrick Terry said.
"I just want to make sure it is impacting our community," Kathy Terry said. "For me having this Day of Giving has made me aware of all the nonprofits in our community."
Season for Caring has been chosen because it benefits between 10 and 12 different local nonprofits each year.
"Season for Caring is the greatest reminder of frankly what so many of us have and what so many of us don’t have," Patrick Terry said. "You always have to be reminded. And that's what makes Saturday the most special day of the year for us."
Every year, the Terrys read all the Season for Caring stories, sometimes twice.
"There’s been a lot of tears in the Terry house," Patrick Terry said.
"It reminds me how fortunate and lucky I am to have the resources and the access that I have that I can give back and I can make a difference," Kathy Terry says. "But it’s also having access to these amazing stories and amazing people, to have access to their strength, their determination and grit and love and compassion and most importantly their hope. To me sharing our stories, of our resources and of our access, that’s community."
This year Season for Caring donations are going to families such as the Overtons. Nicole and Brandon Overton have four sons, three of whom have been diagnosed with a blood disorder or a malformation near the brain. Medical bills keep mounting. The family needs everything from a new couch to help with medical expenses, nutritional counseling, family therapy, pest control, an automatic garage door opener, and gift cards to H-E-B, Walmart and restaurants. For more information about the Overton family or to donate an item on their wish list, contact Any Baby Can at 512-454-3743 or anybabycan.org.
Monica Beakley and her son, Jesse Jakob Estala, need an attorney to help with estate planning. Beakley, 47, has stage 4 cancer that has spread from her lungs to her brain and intestines. Her son, 19, had a traumatic brain injury 10 years ago and is now blind and has long-term intellectual impairments. They also need assistive devices for the blind, hotel vouchers, bus passes to travel to MD Anderson for treatment, a sturdy couch with back support, and a therapist specializing in brain injuries. (Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757; wondersandworries.org)
Ahmad Kambiz Hekmati, his wife, Maria, and their four children came to the U.S. after he helped U.S. aide agencies in Afghanistan and their lives were threatened. He needs a better job working with nonprofit organizations or in accounting. A car for Maria would make employment easier. They also need help repaying their travel loans and common household items such as a blender, bedding, a vacuum and pots and pans. (Interfaith Action of Central Texas, 512-386-9145, interfaithtexas.org)
"You’ve rounded up so many people who need help, you’ve rounded up the charities that are willing to help those people and then you’ve made it available for us to make that donation," Patrick Terry said.