Yalla Mediterranean Partners to Support DUSD Libraries

Michael Utsumi, Funding & Programs Coordinator
February 25, 2019
Charlie Cotton

Charlie Cotton, Area Manager, Yalla Mediterranean

Over the last several decades, the formula to fund various school activities and support services has changed radically. At one time, support at the school site level came under the category of SLIP (School Library Improvement Plan). It really didn’t have much to do with the library, but it was a means of providing funds under certain categories. All schools in California watched this system erode – particularly after the budget crisis of 2008.

Since then, a new program was implemented in 2013-14 called LCFF or the Local Control Funding Formula. Again, there was very little local control as specific revenue limits and most state categorical programs were eliminated. So, as it relates to supporting local school libraries, the Dublin Partners in Education decided to put its money where its mouth is. We did so by partnering with Yalla Mediterranean to create a Dine Out Fundraiser that would solely benefit our district Media Technicians and their libraries. The event took place over the weekend of February 9/10 at the Yalla location in the Persimmon Place shopping center.

To gather some context, we sat down with the Yalla Mediterranean Director of Operations, Daryn Friedman. Mr. Friedman spent the weekend from his corporate office in Southern California to oversee the Dublin weekend event.

DPIE: What is the Yalla corporate philosophy in terms of serving as a true community member?

Ever since Yalla first opened for business, it has been an important philosophy of ours to give back in the communities that we serve.  The most obvious one is with our 50% fundraiser events where we donate 50% of sales directly back to the non-profit organization promoting the event.  Additionally, we provide Catering packages that can be auctioned off during live and silent auction events.  And finally, we will often allow non-profits to purchase catering for events at discounted pricing.  As a business, we find that by giving back, it becomes a win-win for both Yalla and for the organizations that we support.

DPIE: Briefly describe your professional background and explain why you enjoy working in the food service/hospitality industry.

Friedman: “I started off working as a server in an Italian restaurant in Boston nearly 20 years ago and have worked my way up in the restaurant industry to where I am today, as Director of Operations. What I most enjoy about the food service industry is giving guests deliciously consistent food at reasonable prices in a warm and welcoming environment. When I was in a single store, I got to know my guests and their families, what they liked and didn’t like, and also experience their triumphs and tragedies. Food is what brings people together and I’m just happy to be a small cog in that wheel.”

DPIE: How do the Yalla menu offerings serve some of the more popular eating trends – such as vegan or ketogenic?

Daryn Friedman

Daryn Friedman, Director of Operations, Yalla Mediterranean

Friedman: “It seems like there is a new diet cropping up all the time with special dietary restrictions or ingredient limitations. Yalla takes great care in accommodating to any special requirements a guest presents to us. For the more common diets (gluten free, vegetarian & vegan), our menu specifically lists items that are GF (gluten free), V (vegetarian) and VG (vegan). We cater to our guests that require Halal proteins as well. Also, if a guest comes in with any food allergies, our Team Members are trained to notify a manager, who will specifically ensure that none of the restricted food product gets into the guest’s meal. One caveat I must put out there, however, is that when a guest has allergies to something that we carry in the restaurant, we cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that there has not been cross contamination. So please ask questions before ordering if there are any severe allergies.”

DPIE: Anything else that you would like to add?

Friedman: “Please spread the word to the friends of DPIE that Yalla loves doing fundraisers in partnership with other worthy causes. We have three other stores in NorCal (Fremont, Walnut Creek & Pleasant Hill) and three stores in the Los Angeles area. Catering to the office on fundraiser days counts for the fundraiser as well so there are ways that these can be even more lucrative. If anyone would like to sign up for a restaurant night for their organization or is looking for a donation, etc., you can fill out the form on our website at yallamedi.com/fundraiser.”

Dublin Partners in Education would like to thank the team at Yalla Mediterranean for their enthusiastic support of this unique fundraiser. We are pleased to report that this event yielded a donation of over $1,450 that will be shared equally by our district school site libraries. DPIE would also like to thank our local community for helping to make this a huge success!