We’re excited to honor Jimmy’s Famous Seafood as a Cornerstone winner for Dundalk Renaissance’s 2021 Milestone Awards Ceremony. In a year that drastically changed the way restaurants could do business and required an unprecedented amount of flexibility, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood continued to thrive as a Dundalk staple. Their dexterity during this difficult time and delicious crab cakes aren’t the only reason why we’ve chosen to honor them this year. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood has single handedly raised over $475,000 for local restaurants struggling to pay staff and keep the lights on—in addition to their regular charitable giving and community service.
“They didn’t have to turn the spotlight on other restaurants, potentially competitors, but they did — because they wanted to help the people in our community. It’s very selfless what they’ve done, and for that, we wanted to give them a tip of the hat with the Dundalk Renaissance’s Cornerstone award,” Dan Dawes, board president, wrote in an email.
Earlier this year Jimmy’s Famous Seafood realized that so many local Baltimore area restaurants were struggling to stay afloat during COVID 19—that’s when they took matters into their own hands and created the Famous Fund as a fundraiser for local restaurants. “It was the right thing to do.” Minadakis said. Restaurants in need apply for aid and a committee reads through the application to determine which restaurants will receive aid. So far, the Famous Fund has raised over $475,000.
Giving back to the community was something instilled in John Minadakis and his siblings by their father. Their father always told them the community gave them everything when he immigrated to the United States and it was their responsibility to give back. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood has been involved in numerous community fundraising efforts. Minadakis’ favorite is their yearly Toys for Tots drive. “There’s something special in the air around the holidays,” Minadakis said. “It’s nice to make Christmas special.”
Jimmy’s Famous Seafood has helped with countless toy drives, provided scholarships, raised money on behalf of the Brigance Brigade and Special Olympics. They’ve organized and donated food for giveaways feeding “a couple hundred families” by John Minadakis’ estimate. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood even helped facilitate a Make a Wish child’s dream come true. Their mission to give back daily means that they often donate left over food to local organizations, like Soup for the Soul, in addition to their extensive fundraising.
“Dundalk Renaissance board members were talking about companies that are going above and beyond by helping others during the pandemic — and not surprisingly, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood came up. They’ve always been very generous in the community with many fundraisers that help local organizations, they employ a lot of people — simply put, they’re a local institution,” Board President, Dan Dawes said. “What was really impressive though, was that a friendly bet between Jimmy’s co-owner John Minadakis and Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, that appeared to go south after the Ravens lost to the Browns in the divisional in January, actually was the seed that grew into The Famous Fund. Everyone involved leaned-in to the buzz that initial bet created and they have since raised over $475,000 for local area restaurants to stay open, keep our neighbors working and to provide that positive spark we all need during these difficult times.”
Their community involvement is what keeps Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Dundalk. “We love it here and love the relationships we establish with the community,” Minadakis said. “A lot of people came here with their parents and now come in with their kids. It would be foolish to leave.”