By Maya Pottiger

For a limited time, The Board and Brew is offering a menu featuring Syrian drinks and cuisine. A quarter of all sales from these drinks will be donated to the International Rescue Committee’s Syrian campaign.

“Very generally speaking, with the whole Donald Trump thing and a lof the orders he was making, we just wanted to be involved in some way,” said Board and Brew co-owner Ben Epstein. “Not to be overly political, but just support something we believe in in terms of inclusiveness.”

Aaron Banschick, the beverage director at The Board and Brew, created all of the drinks on the menu from scratch. Banschick said the concepts behind the menu are traditional, but he added his own twist.

“There’s a kind of generalizable palette of Syrian food and drinks,” Banschick said. “It was mostly just picking up on flavors that are either directly attributable to traditional drinks or are kind of related to the Syrian palette.”

Two Syrian customers tried the Sparking Polo and Grape-Rose Jallab and responded positively, while offering some feedback on the menu, Banschick said. The customers also thanked him for “paying attention,” which is what Banschick said the point of this fundraiser is.

“It’s supposed to be a really fun, and hopefully tasty, way of actually making people realize some of the negative things going on in the world through something more positive, through something that promotes cultural contact and through something that promotes shifting of understandings,” he said.

Of the four drinks, the Sparkling Polo, or Syrian lemonade, is the most popular, according to Banschick. The prices of the drinks range from $4.50-$7.

Though the menu was first introduced almost two weeks ago, Banschick said he had this idea worked out for a while. Banschick said he chose the IRC because of its transparency ratings and how much of each dollar donated goes to the campaign.

The Board and Brew will be making weekly donations to the campaign starting this Friday.

“We wanted to have some number that’s kind of exciting to be able to announce that we’ve been donating,” Banschick said. “By Friday, we’ll probably have a little over $500, which is cool for a first donation.”

The fundraiser — and its menu — will only run for about eight weeks, according to Banschick.

“I would love to get into the thousands,” Banschick said. “We’ll see how far we can run it and how hard we can push it.”

To cap off the fundraiser, The Board and Brew is planning an event with the Middle Eastern literature group on campus, but nothing is set in stone yet, according to Banschick.

This isn’t the first outreach event the restaurant has been a part of. Every year, The Board and Brew hosts Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming event that donates its proceeds to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Later this month, The Board and Brew is partnering with an organization to host a FIFA tournament. Proceeds from the tournament will provide soccer equipment for girls in Afghanistan.

Banschick said he hopes the Syrian fundraiser will serve as a springboard for The Board and Brew to get involved with more issues.

“It just seemed like a really great way to get more involved, and we definitely want to do more stuff in the future,” Epstein said. “[This is] a college town. I think this generation really appreciates social awareness and people doing events and other things that can help communities that can’t help themselves as easily. I think it fits in really well in terms of being part of the community.”

Other than ordering from the menu, those who wish to donate can do so from this link, which is also listed at the bottom of the drink menu.

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo credit courtesy of The Board and Brew on Facebook.

Maya Pottiger is a senior journalism major and can be reached at mpottige@terpmail.umd.edu. 

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