Dozens of Garner Magnet High School faculty funneled into the library Friday for a faculty work day meeting. A barge of chicken wings from Averboro Restaraunt and Sports Bar awaited them.
As she approached it, special programs teacher Megan Draughon murmured “So nice, this is beautiful,” as she approached the buffet. When thanked at the outset of the meeting, the teachers gave co-owners Susie Newbanks and Wendy Casey a standing ovation.
But the well-received gesture represents just one example of Newbanks’ and Casey’s efforts to give back.
“We always try to do things to support Garner and the school,” Newbanks said.
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The pair, who bought the restaurant in 2012, also had bulldozers and other heavy equipment brought in to pave over some deteriorating parts of a school driveway. And other events are planned as well.
On Sept. 26 the restaurant is hosting a fundraiser breakfast for Garner High’s choral program at 7:30 a.m. and on Oct. 12 it will host a fall festival for the band, which will include corn-hole and barbecue plates.
There was also an event Monday featuring artist Vincent Wood to benefit the U.S.O. at the restaurant.
Both stress giving back, but for Casey in particular, the effort stems from feeling she’s gotten more from Garner than she’s given.
“The community was here for me when I needed it,” Casey said.
Casey’s husband died of cancer in 2009. She said he had talked about opening up a mom-and-pop hot dog stand one day, and she saw the restaurant as as somewhat of a tribute to that.
The two each have a child at the high school; one of them, Riley Newbanks, works at the restaurant and helped lay out the spread.
“When we started the restaurant we wanted to be part of the community, but we had no idea that it would be so fulfilling. It was everything we could hope for and more,” Casey said. “I’m so lucky I’m in a position that I can give a little back to Garner.”
This most recent idea started when the owners were talking with Garner High secretary Brenda Maultsby and her husband, assistant principal Mark Maultsby. The last faculty meeting had been catered by Angie’s, another local restaurant bought by a first-time restaurant owner that has become a mainstay both as a restaurant and source of giving back.
“We were just talking to the Maultsbys asking what more we can do,” Newbanks said.
Brenda Maultsby praised the two for their efforts to help the school, saying “every time I turn around they’re giving or doing something.”
“We have a super excited staff today,” Maultsby said.