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VIDEOS: San Diegans will be "Dining Out For Life" on Thursday

SAN DIEGO – Restaurants across town will be bustling Thursday, April 26, with “Dining Out For Life” participants raising money for The San Diego LGBT Community Center’s HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.

More than 100 local restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, food trucks and nightclubs will donate at least 25% of the days sales to the cause as a showing of support for The Center’s programs.

Dining Out For Life will take place in nearly 60 cities nationwide on Thursday, April 26, with events in each region supporting an HIV/AIDS charity in the area. Across the country, more than 3,000 restaurants have pledged to participate, with more than $3 million expected to be raised.

In 2011, 3,001 restaurants nationwide participated, netting $3.4 million from 52 cities.

Christopher Mills, The Center’s major gifts officer, is leading the team that is organizing this year’s San Diego event.

“We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support we are receiving from several of San Diego’s finest and most generous restaurants, bars and coffeehouses,” Mills said. “This year, we are fortunate to have several businesses going above and beyond in their commitment to the success of this event by giving 50 and even 100% of the day’s sales on April 26.”

While participating venues are only required to give a minimum of 25% of their day’s sales, a record number have chosen to give more this year.

Hillcrest’s R Gang Eatery will donate 100%, and Burger Lounge (Hillcrest and Kensington locations), Smashburger, Snooze, Mariposa Ice Cream, Wang’s North Park and Adams Avenue Grill will all give 50% of their sales on April 26.

Beyond the donations given by each restaurant, participants are also able to make additional donations in envelopes and donation boxes that will be placed at each restaurant and participating venue.

Community members are encouraged to gather groups of friends, family members or co-workers to make a day out of the experience, to help maximize the fundraising efforts.

On social media, participants have been buzzing about where they will be spending their dollars during Dining Out For Life.

Stacy Spensley, a San Diego health coach, posted on Twitter that she will be dining at Snooze for breakfast, and is still deciding on her dinner option.

Dr. Shaun Travers, board co-chair of The Center, will have breakfast at Snooze, lunch at R Gang Eatery, and will be joined by fellow UCSD staff members for dinner at Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant.

Local community leaders have made plans to dine together for dinner at Adams Avenue Grill, and this group will include Assemblymember Toni Atkins, City Commissioner Bob Nelson, Kevin Tilden, The Center’s CEO Dr. Delores Jacobs, and Victory Fund board chair Susan Atkins-Weathers.

Several community organizations have also “adopted” restaurants for the day, and are encouraging their members and supporters to dine at their chosen establishment:

Member of The Center’s Young Professionals Council will be having dinner at Wang’s North Park, Family Matters will be at Babbo’s Bar & Grill, and the San Diego Democrats for Equality will have dinner at Brians’ American Eatery after their meeting.

SDGLN's reader poll revealed that 71% of respondents planned to participate in Dining Out For Life San Diego.

Shirley Jones, an administrative assistant in San Diego, plans to participate in Dining Out For Life at lunchtime with co-workers this year.

“This event is so easy. I’m going to eat anyway, and this just gives us an excuse to get out of the office for a bit, have a great lunch, and it raises money for this important cause,” Jones said.

Jones and her group have chosen Crest Café as their lunch spot, and she says she might even take her partner out to dinner, but they are still deciding on where.

Patrick Wallace, public relations professional and founder of A Note To My Kid will dine at Snooze for breakfast, The Range Kitchen & Cocktails for lunch, and R Gang Eatery for dinner.

"I'm participating in Dining Our for Life because HIV/AIDS doesn't discriminate," Wallace told SDGLN. "Each and every one of us is responsible for playing a role in combating this disease however we are able. Push your diet aside and come save lives. The treadmills will work just fine the next day."

Participating venues are spread out across Bankers Hill, Coronado, Downtown, East Village, Gaslamp, Hillcrest, Kearny Mesa, Kensington, Little Italy, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, Normal Heights, North Park, Old Town, Rolando, South Park, Old Town, University Heights and even one location in North County in Vista.

Some venues plan to get particularly creative with their Dining Out For Life fundraiser.

The Range Kitchen & Cocktails will host a Dining Out For Life Prohibition Party from 7-10 pm. Participants are encouraged to dress in 1920s attire, and those who do will receive a free Batch 19 beer.

At 8 pm, a Dining Out For Life rally will be held, and participants will march down University Avenue with "picket signs" supporting the cause. Following the rally, a costume contest will be held at 9 pm.

To RSVP for The Range's event and receive the "password," click HERE.

House.Boi, a men’s fashion and home furnishing store in Hillcrest, will also donate a portion of its sales to the cause during Dining Out For Life.

Many of the participating restaurants are expected to be extra busy during Dining Out For Life so participants are encouraged to check to see if reservations are accepted at the various venues.

For more information about Dining Out For Life, click HERE.

The Dining Out For Life guide, including participating venues, is HERE.