Mark Jones has been a fixture in the Chattahoochee Valley for the last two decades. A highly successful chef and restauranteur, Jones has opened nine restaurants ranging from steakhouses to breakfast joints, and we're betting you're a regular at least one of them.
A longtime supporter of our community, Jones has given selflessly for decades to help feed those in need in the Chattahoochee Valley and beyond.
Now, he's in need of our help.
Jones was in a life-altering car crash on May 20, 2018 when his vehicle collided with an 18 wheeler. After the accident, Jones was immediately rushed to Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital where it was discovered that he had suffered a severe spinal cord injury.
Jones went through an extensive surgery to alleviate pressure on his spine, and then spent 11 days in the hospital. After emerging from ICU, Jones was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta where he is currently undergoing rehabilitation. The longterm prognosis of his mobility is unknown. The nature of a spinal cord injury is that it can be hard to determine exactly what functions will return and when. However, through determination and hard work in therapy Jones has already gained some minor mobility back in his right arm and left leg.
Ask anyone who knows him, and they'll tell you that Jones is a strong and determined leader. He has tenacity to fight to regain his strength and mobility, but even he knows he cannot do it alone.
That's where we, as a community, come in.
Public relations expert Stephanie Woodham is spearheading a local effort to raise money for Jones' medical fund. Woodham is a business partner of Jones' and owns YallaPR which is based out of Columbus. Woodham jumped at the chance to help Jones, and she and her team at Yalla are doing everything they can to make Grubbin' To Give a community-wide effort.
Grubbin' To Give is bringing everyone together through the fundraiser's slogan #InItForJones - a nod to the importance of the community's participation in the event.
Grubbin' To Give is a week-long fundraiser for Jones starting Monday, July 9. Next week (from July 9 - 15th), participating restaurants will pick a business day (or several days in some cases) to donate a portion of their profits to the Mark Jones Medical Fund.
Community members are encouraged to give back by choosing where and how to spend their money in support of Jones.
The strength of a community is often most clearly seen in tragedy, and Columbus is proving that it's no exception to that rule. It should come as no surprise that some of Jones' biggest local competitors are the ones who signed up to help first.
Trevor Morris, owner of Trevioli Italian Kitchen, a major competitor in the local food industry, wrote a moving passage online this week about his wish to assist his fellow colleague. "The employees at his nine local restaurants need him for leadership, strength, and wisdom, His 6 children need their dad back, And dear friends- Columbus needs Mark Jones," said Morris online earlier this week.
Jones is no stranger to giving himself. In the past, he has continually supported fundraising efforts for others and has donated thousands of dollars to worthy causes over the years. Now, it's our turn as a community to help him.
Aside from the physical and emotional burdens of his accident, the financial burden is extensive as well. Jones has six children ranging in ages from 9-29, and being a chef was his way to provide for his family. Now, the family needs funds for Jones' medical care, added costs of transportation, living expenses, and a way to make their living arrangements accessible for Jones when he comes home from the hospital. According to Yalla's information on the Grubbin' To Give event page, Jones' needs are vast. "His best hope for complete recovery is continued quality rehabilitation and care," a Yalla representative wrote "His level of care requires him to need a handicap accessible home, bed, lifts, shower, wheelchair and transportation."
The costs are mounting, but through Grubbin' To Give our community is coming together to raise funds for Jones and his family. Over twenty five local restaurants are participating in the effort, and thousands of community members have committed to attending. Many of them have also joined the effort by sharing and promoting the event's information online.
Over twenty five other local chefs and restaurant owners have joined the effort, and the number of restaurants participating continues to increase every day. Morris knows exactly why.
"While we are technically opponents in the world of capitalist free market- we are brothers in supporting the economic system of Columbus, Ga, local employees and their families," he explained. "When I proposed this idea to my staff, they overwhelmingly agreed without any question or stipulation. We will be giving 100% of our profits from July 15 to the Mark Jones Medical Fund. The restaurant business is a brotherhood and a sisterhood. We wouldn't have it any other way." ◼︎
More to Know:
Below is a listing of participating restaurants as of July 5.
*To access the fundraiser's most currently updated list on the day(s) you plan to dine, please visit the Grubbin' To Give For Mark Jones event page.
(Click the links to view menus, locations, and/or websites where available.)
*Indicates one of Mark Jones' Restaurants
Bruster's Real Ice Cream of Phenix City -- Tuesday - Thursday, July 10, 11 & 12; Regular Business Hours Chicken Salad Chick & Chicken Salad Chick -- Wednesday, July 11; 4-8pm Pat's Backwaters -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours B.Merrell's -- Friday - Sunday; July 13, 14, & 15 Trevioli Italian Kitchen -- OPEN Sunday, July 15 ; 5-10pm
Bare Roots Farmacy -- Sunday, July 15; Brunch Hours 11th and Bay Southern Table -- Monday - Saturday, July 9 - 14; Regular Business Hours Country's Barbecue All Columbus, Ga. locations-- July 13, 14 & 15; Regular Business Hours Iron Bank Coffee Company -- Mark Jones 50 -- Donate $.25 and they'll match $.25 until they reach $50,000!
Chick-fil-A Chick-fil-A Phenix City - Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Macon Road-- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Manchester Expressway -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Midland -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Bradley Park Drive -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Columbus Park Crossing -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Peachtree Mall -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours Chick-fil-A Medical Center of Columbus -- Thursday, July 12; Regular Business Hours 219 Food and Spirits -- Saturday, July 14; Regular Business Hours *The Black Cow -- July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours *Smoke Bourbon and BBQ -- July 9 -15; Regular Business Hours *Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse -- July 10 - 14; Regular Business Hours *Mark's City Grill -- July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours *Mark's Pies & Thighs -July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours *Ready Steak GO - Columbus, Georgia - July 9 -15; Regular Business Hours *Flip Side Burgers & Tacos -- July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours *Plucked Up - Chicken & Biscuits -- July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours *The Poultry Company -- July 9 -14; Regular Business Hours Columbus Eats Food Tours - Every Saturday Tour in the month of July
If you and your restaurant would like to participate please contact Stephanie Woodham | Steph@YallaPR.com.