Wauconda restaurant's new menu item supports local food pantry

When Joe Kafka, the co-owner of Bulldogs Grill in Wauconda, heard the local food pantry had vegetables that go unused, he created a tasty way to help.

For the past few Fridays, Kafka has been using squash and other vegetables from the Wauconda/Island Lake Food Pantry as ingredients for a new menu item he sells for $4 a bowl, with proceeds going back to the pantry.

“I've been calling it a farmers pantry vegetable soup,” he said. “I want people to know what they're buying is going to a good cause.”

On Friday, he loaded a giant zucchini, yellow and acorn squash, tomatoes, peppers and other ingredients into a box to take to the restaurant kitchen.

“I probably won't make this until tomorrow morning,” Kafka said. “I'll keep going as long as it makes sense to do it.”

So far, soup sales have generated about $150 for the food pantry, located at the rear of the Wauconda Township office complex at 505 W. Bonner Road.

It's not a lot, he acknowledged, but every bit helps for people in need, Kafka said.

“These guys need a lot of help,” he said.

With that in mind, Kafka has been collecting food donations at the restaurant since March.

“If I find they (food pantry) have a specific need, I'll let the customers know,” he said. The donations have generated hundreds of pounds of dry goods and other items for the pantry.

“He has been collecting from the beginning,” of the pandemic, said Marge Rucker, volunteer coordinator at the pantry. “He always seems to be marketing our need.”

The pantry serves about 200 families a month.

“The new faces are the ones who have never done it before. We have so much more of that,” Rucker said.

The pantry has received support from local groceries and the community, she said.

“There's nothing you can't give me that I won't find somebody who can use it,” she added.

  All proceeds of a $4 soup from Bulldogs Grill, co-owned by Joe Kafka, go to the Wauconda/Island Lake Food Pantry. Mick Zawislak/
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