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Suisun in the News

01 Dec 2012

Suisun City Restaurant Owners Step up Donations to Schools

By Danny Bernardini, Daily Republic

Athenian GrillSUISUN CITY — Emil Smith walked into Athenian Grill Friday to grab a burger and fries for dinner. He didn’t pay a dime.

Smith, a senior at Sam Yeto extension at Armijo High School, was the recipient of a gift certificate given to students at all three of the high schools in the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

Every teacher at the three schools is now given one certificate each month by Shelly and Spiro Kontogiannis, owners of Athenian Grill. That teacher is to select one student each month who has good attendance, has shown academic improvement and who has displayed exemplary citizenship in their school.

The restaurant also donates two $25 gift certificates to be given to teachers or staff each month.

In the past, only Armijo and Rodriguez high schools were part of the program. This year, Fairfield High was added to the mix. On top of those donations, the owners also donated a kid’s meal certificate to every teacher at elementary schools and middle schools in the district to give to a student.

“If it encourages them to do better or be nicer to someone, that’s a win-win,” Shelly Kontogiannis said.

Smith said he had heard of the gift certificates before and was happy to get one. Claiming they had the best burgers in town, he was elated to have his grades rewarded with a meal.

“The motivation is great for the students,” Smith said. “It’s really cool for Athenian Grill to support the community like this.”

Angie Avlonitis, a coordinator with Student Accountability and Support for the district, said she’s impressed at how much the couple has given to the district. Avlonitis said around $55,000 has been given over the last six years.

Avlonitis said the Kontogiannis family is a good example of how a small business can get involved and promote student performance.

Shelly said she doesn’t keep track of how much money goes into donating to the district. She said the restaurant does pick up a little extra business through exposure and first-time customers come back. With the fact the restaurant doesn’t spend money on advertising, she figures it’s all relative.

More than anything, Shelly said, is promoting kids improving themselves. She said those who claim the meal are often excited about being recognized by their teacher.

“Everyone here knows to make a big deal about it. We make them feel special,” she said. “One girl said she had never got an award before. She asked if she could have the certificate back so she could frame it.”

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