GRANBY — Two summers ago, Bill Edelstein made Sean Richardson, owner of Maverick’s Grille, an interesting proposition.
“If you give me one night, I could make more money than anyone on your staff,” he reportedly said. Beer allegedly was involved.
Richardson, also a few beers in, was not one to back down to his friend’s good-natured provocation. The two declared a duel, or “Waiter War,” as they called it. And to make it even more interesting, they committed to donating all their tips to the local Rotary Club.
“We came up with the idea of the ‘Waiter Wars’ concept to raise a few hundred dollars for the Club,” Edelstein said, who has been a Rotarian for 32 years.
Edlestein is better known as the guy selling antlers at the intersection of Highway 34 and Agate Avenue, but he apparently has impeccable food service skills as well. He took in more tips than Richardson by a few hundred dollars. This weekend, Richardson is declaring a rematch.
“Bill bested me at the first Waiter Wars in 2011,” Richardson said, joking his friend bribed diners with free drinks.
Edelstein joked right back.
“Get out of here,” he said. “You still won’t accept losing gracefully.”
The two raised $558 over the course of the evening. The event represented a fun rivalry between two friends, but more importantly, gave them a chance to raise funds for a community and organization they value. Although scheduling conflicts kept them from having a duel last year, Richardson said he’d like to make it a regular yearly event.
“It gets people involved and raises awareness about the Club,” he said. “It’s a good cause and a fun night, everybody has a good time.”
The Rotary Club is a service organization with clubs throughout the world. It mostly brings together community business leaders and professionals. Grand County has four clubs, in Fraser/Winter Park, Grand Lake, Granby and Kremmling. Richardson figures the Granby club has around 20 members. Dues are around $30 a month, with an optional $12 fee for lunch (visitors interested in joining get their first lunch free). Nearly all the fees and funds go to local causes.
“The club does so much locally for people, it makes you feel good to be part of an organization where you can guide where the funds are spent,” Richardson said. “It’s money that goes to your friends and neighbors, those in need.”
Among its local contributions, the Granby Rotary Club supports the Dictionary Project, which provides dictionaries to local schoolchildren. They helped the Grand County Council on Aging purchase all-purpose tires for a van it uses to transport senior citizens. They provide scholarships and leadership training for youth.
A regular diner at Maverick’s, Edelstein quickly became friends with Richardson after the restaurant opened in 2007. He got Richardson to join the Rotary Club shortly thereafter. Richardson now hosts the club’s weekly Wednesday lunch meetings at his restaurant. They hope Saturday’s Waiter War will also encourage more local residents and business owners to join.
But, most importantly, the Waiter Wars offer a creative way of raising more money to benefit the local community.
“Rotary Club is always looking for fundraisers. In a market like Granby with a small population and even smaller number of business proprietors and owners, it’s so hard,” Edelstein said. “Our budget is always stretched.”
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.