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Grill celebrates 10 years with fundraiser

Community: Stonefire Grill hopes to raise $20K for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Posted: September 21, 2010 8:16 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Harrigans, who own Stonefire Grill in Valencia, hope to raise $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with a celebration Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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In honor of the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary, Stonefire Grill is hosting a community celebration Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to thank its customers for 10 years of loyalty.

But the restaurateurs also hope to raise $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Sunday.

The nephew of Stonefire Grill founders Mary and Maureen Harrigan, Brendan, is a survivor of cystic fibrosis.

A chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children, the affliction claims the lives of 55 percent of patients by their 18th birthdays. Today, Brendan is 23 years old.

For a minimum donation of $1, diners will be offered a menu of barbecue tri tip, garlic mashed potatoes, barbecue chopped salad, bread sticks, cake and drink.

The restaurant will also be serving a 10-foot-by-10-foot carrot cake, reported to be the world’s largest carrot cake.

FM radio station K-Earth 101 will broadcast live from the Valencia restaurant and students from six area high schools will

The restaurant will match the amount of all money raised at the anniversary celebration to be donated to foundation.

Success recipe
In an economy that has seen countless other food establishments close, Stonefire Grill has thrived, much to the surprise of co-owner Mary Harrigan, 48.

When Mary and her sister Maureen Harrigan, 53, opened the eatery, the idea was to cook food that could be available for dining in as well as take-out, encouraging people to use the restaurant as their own personal kitchen.

“Everything we do is made from scratch,” Mary Harrigan said. “A lot of the recipes come from our family, things that we made at home and loved to have.”

The Harrigan family also owns Rattlers Bar B Que restaurant on Golden Valley Road, a dining staple in Canyon Country for 22 years.

“Two years ago, we had an offer on a Thousand Oaks location when the stock market plummeted in September 2008,” Mary Harrigan said. “We backed out at the last minute because the restaurant industry was already feeling the effects of the economic slowdown.”

Instead, Stonefire’s sales continued to grow.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that we’ve done this well because of our service style and the value of what’s offered,” the younger sister said.

Meal deals
Stonefire Grill began offering special deals as the economy weakened.

“A year and a half ago, when Obama came into office, I said why don’t we do something ridiculously inexpensive and call it the stimulus package,” Mary Harrigan said.

As a result, the restaurant offered a complete meal for four people at the price of $19.99. Stonefire Grill found that it not only retained loyal customers, but that business was also growing. The restaurant sold hundreds of thousands of the “stimulus” meals.

“Although we discounted the price, we saw our sales rise, which meant more people were coming through our doors,” Mary Harrigan said.

In honor of the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary, the eatery now serves a meal for $10 called “The Taste of Stonefire.” A few thousand meals were sold in the first week.

Mary Harrigan said a group of four senior women regularly visit one of the restaurants, buying a small salad to share between them and getting four water cups. As the salads are large, each woman has a meal for only $2.25.

“We don’t frown on it. We love that we can create value in a meal and that people use it differently,” the owner said. “We try to hold our prices very, very steady because of the recession.”

One woman told Mary Harrigan that she has not made a salad at home since the restaurant opened in 2000. She typically buys a salad three or four nights a week to go with the family meal.

New locations
When the Harrigans sought financing to open the Valencia restaurant, a local bank in existence at the time gave them the money.

“The local bank took our homes as equity but gave us the money to start the business,” said Harrigan.

Harrigan said that is almost unheard of because of the high risk. Restaurants have high failure rates.

“Our designer tells the story that she wanted the money from us upfront to design the restaurant because she was sure we were going to fail,” said Harrigan.

In 10 years, the Valencia restaurant has grown to include seven locations in the Southern California market. Stonefire Grill opened a restaurant in Pasadena 10 months ago and one in Thousand Oaks just four months ago.

Harrigan said the business is not actively seeking to open more restaurants. The sisters do not want to lose control of the business by expanding too quickly. The owners want to maintain the quality of the food and service.

Erin Harrigan, 25, Brendan’s sister, said most people would never know Brendan Harrigan has cystic fibrosis.

“He’s the kind of person that just makes everyone happy to be around him,” Erin Harrigan said. “I always say if you like
me or my older brother, you’ll like Brendan more.”

Despite facing an uncertain future, Brendan Harrigan graduated from the University of Arizona with an accounting degree. The small firm that employs him recently sent him to Tokyo on business.

Erin said her brother would never want people to look at him and think of his illness, but rather to think of all the people out there who need help prolonging life through donations to research.

“He’s become a role model for the whole family,” said his sister. “I look at what (he’s) been through and I say, ‘Okay, if he can do that, then so can I.’”

Stonefire Grill is located at 23300 Cinema Drive, Santa Clarita, and can be reached at (661) 799-8282.


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