One Trick Pony owner Dan Verhil earns statewide humanitarian award


One Trick Pony has acoustic music every Thursday at 8 p.m. Photo via

The Michigan Restaurant Association has recognized Dan Verhil of One Trick Pony Grill & Taproom and The Cottage Bar in Grand Rapids with the association’s 2013 statewide Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year award.

The MRA’s annual Restaurant Neighbor Award went to Buddy’s Pizza in Farmington Hills.

The awards, created by the National Restaurant Association, honor restaurants and individuals in Michigan for their commitment to community service and innovative community projects.

The Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes an individual restaurateur who goes above and beyond in community service and aims to inspire other restaurateurs to get or stay involved in their local communities.

Verhil now will be contending with winners from other states for the national award for Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year, to be announced at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., in April.

National grand prize winners will each receive $5,000 to support and continue their community efforts.

“Our Michigan winners are proof that the charitable acts of one business can have a huge impact on a community,” said Brian DeBano, MRA president and chief executive officer.

As owner of The Cottage Bar and One Trick Pony, Verhil started The Cottage Bar’s Annual Chili Cook-Off, which has raised more than $145,000 for Gilda’s Club over the past 31 years.

The Hat Trick Series held at One Trick Pony has raised more than $75,000 over 10 years for a variety of Grand Rapids-area charities.

Verhil also supports numerous other organizations.

Buddy’s Pizza joined forces with the Alliance for the Great Lakes to help further its mission to conserve and restore the five freshwater lakes through education, policy and citizen involvement.

Buddy’s Pizza unveiled its first Made in Michigan Great Lakes Pizza Collection in June 2012, and for each of those sold, Buddy’s donated $1 to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, for a total donation of $6,000.

A profile of each state winner’s community involvement will be highlighted in a booklet that the National Restaurant Association will distribute in the fall, as well as on the association’s website.

Founded in 1921, MRA represents nearly 4,500 Michigan foodservice establishments. More than 390,000 people in Michigan are employed in the food service industry.

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