News & Politics

“Philanthropub” Cause DC Gets a Shout-Out on “The Colbert Report”

The charitable Shaw bar got name-checked by Stephen Colbert Tuesday night.

Cause DC got a nod from The Colbert Report Tuesday. Photograph courtesy of Benjamin C. Tankersley Photography.

You know you’re on to something good when you’re on the receiving end of the infamous
Stephen Colbert Wag of the Finger. Comedy Central’s faux-pundit’s supposed condemnation
amounts to high praise.

That’s why the owners of the Shaw gastropub Cause DC had
reason to celebrate Tuesday night’s list,

where the host admonished “drinking and donating,” citing a
New York Times story
about Cause and other new pubs that donate their profits to charity.

“Good deeds and booze are a dangerous combination,” warned Colbert, who worries about
all the poor souls who wake up after a night of drinking “wondering, ‘Who did I feed
and clothe last night?’”

We wrote about Cause before it opened in October and decided to check in with co-owner
Nicholas Vilelle to see if we have reason to worry about donating under the influence.

“Someone tweeted to us about [the clip],” says Vilelle. “I didn’t see it until the
next afternoon. It was hilarious. But with that ‘Wag of the Finger, it just reinforces
to me that
The Daily Show is better.” He also jokes (or maybe not) about doing a special on “slippery nipple”
cocktails that Colbert suggested ordering to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Though Cause DC hasn’t yet reached its donation goals, business has been going well,
and the response for the community has been strong.

“One of my favorite things is when people realize we are simply a good neighborhood
bar,” says Vilelle. “Sometimes I think the charity thing makes people miss that.”

Patrons choose which charities get the profits from their tab by checking off a box
on their bill, and the restaurant plans to switch up the charities every quarter.

“Support for the charities has been pretty even, which means our [advisory] board
did a great job of choosing them,” says Vilelle.

Popular charity moneymakers include the Truth, a cocktail mixed up by head bartender
Matthew Wilcox made with rye whiskey, apple cider, Riesling, house-made grenadine,
and tarragon, a “lambacon burger,” duck hearts on toast, and a vegetarian “quentil
burger” made with quinoa and lentil.

As for what’s next, Vilelle and business partner
Raj Ratwani hope to expand drunken donating to other cities.

“If we can do that, it would be great, especially knowing that it all started right
here in DC,” says Vilelle.