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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Robust Gives Back to the Community

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Things are tough all over, especially for small businesses. But this isn't stopping Stanley and Arlene Maminta Browne, owners of Robust, from sharing their good fortune with their community. Last year the small wine shop and cafe donated to over 100 local charities.

That's a feat many large businesses don't achieve. So what drives the Brownes to give so generously? We talked to Arlene about why she and her husband choose to give back.

Gut Check What charities do you support? Arlene Maminta Browne In 2010, we supported more than 100 local charities and organizations in donated goods, services and cash. We are strong supporters of COCA, Pedal the Cause, and the Webster Public School District.


The arts can touch and encourage every walk of life; it belongs to everyone. The Urban Scholarship program at COCA is phenomenal and has brought the arts to many children who would have otherwise never had the opportunity. Now these children can gain confidence, flourish, find more success in life.

Cancer is devastating and unfortunately, everyone seems to have been touched in some way. With two sisters, a nephew, and close friends who have battled cancer, it is a fight that we continue to fight. Research, prevention and finding a cure for cancer is high on our list, and Pedal the Cause keeps all the funding right here is St. Louis.

We support many schools and educational organizations, and because our business is based in Webster Groves, we feel a sincere obligation to help support the public school system here. Education is the key to economic freedom and we are proud to help build better schools in a place we work and have the support of many of the families who can directly benefit.

When you opened Robust, did you intend to combine business and charity?

Without a doubt. Supporting not-for-profits and other community organizations is inherent in who we are. We think the charity component is essential when building a business and welcomed the opportunity to help more. What was your involvement before opening Robust?

Stanley and I have always been very civic-minded and feel it is very important to give back to the community in which we live. But now that we own our own business, sometimes Stanley has to reign me in. He often jokes and says if I could give it all away, I would. Are there other local food businesses whose charitable endeavors you admire?

So many of the local food businesses give a lot to local charities and community organizations. Many of them we are proud to call our friends. I think that sometimes the community forgets that restaurants and smaller businesses like ours have a much lower profit margin and donations can make a big dent in the bottom line. But I have to say that the independent, locally-owned restaurants in St. Louis certainly do their share in supporting when they can. Any upcoming charitable events?

On June 3, 4, 5 we will be supporting the Webster Groves Art and Air with a special Sip and Stroll wine tasting Friday evening. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Webster Community Arts Foundation. And on Thursday June 9, we will be participating in Dine Out for A Cure with a portion of all sales throughout the day benefiting the St. Louis Affiliate of Susan G. Komen and breast cancer research.

What suggestions do you have for other businesses that might want to increase their giving?

Donating goods and services is a start, but it's not enough. Take the time to find one or two charities that you are passionate about and spend some time volunteering and participating on a deeper level. I promise you will get more back than you give.

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