Once again, a favorite buy local mantra rings true: Small businesses can, indeed, have a big impact. In Augusta, Maine, a local seafood restaurant known as The Red Barn has raised more than $1 million for members of the community – and the fundraising shows no sign of slowing down.
The Red Barn is owned by Laura Benedict, who has become known in her community as a source of good food and a friend to good causes. Benedict and her restaurant were recently featured on NBC Nightly News for their charitable work. At the time, Benedict had just held a fundraiser for Honor Flight Maine, a veterans’ group that takes Maine veterans to Washington, D.C. The fundraiser featured free food, plenty of patriotism and a large crowd of community members in attendance.
“The more business I do, the more money I give back,” Benedict told NBC. For her, the desire to give back is personal, stemming from her past struggles. “I couldn’t pay my bills for three-and-a-half decades.” NBC noted that Benedict previously struggled with addiction.
Benedict’s business is personal, too. As it turns out, she was just 11 years old when her older brother bought the business and launched the family restaurant in 1977. She took over the business at age 19, but she’s had help from her family along the way. Benedict is the ninth of 10 children, and many of her siblings remain involved in the business even today.
In supporting community causes like Honor Flight Maine, the Red Barn also reflects the community’s unique flavor. The lobster roll and mixed seafood pints are indicative of Maine’s coastal culture, and personalized items like Laura’s seafood stew round out the menu.
When Benedict took over the reins, the business had been struggling to compete with national chain restaurants, according to the brief history that’s printed on the menu. Over the years, though, the Red Barn’s motto has always reminded customers what makes the local restaurant special: Serving Chicken, Seafood and Community Since 1977. Learn more about the Red Barn by visiting www.theredbarnmaine.org.