Submitted by The Aliveness Project

Nearly 100 restaurants will donate at least 20% of their sales to The Aliveness Project to help people living with HIV in Minnesota. Thirty of those restaurants are located in Southwest Minneapolis.

The Aliveness Project, located in Kingfield, is a community center accessed by over 3,000 people annually, living with or at the greatest risk for HIV and AIDS. We talked with Bruce Weihsmantel, a medical case manager at The Aliveness Project to learn more about what Dining Out for Life supports.

“It’s eye opening to see how much our community shows up for Dining Out For Life,” Weihsmantel, also a former service industry worker, said. “It's the only time I have ever seen people show up to restaurants to give something, not just to get something. Working at The Aliveness Project I see how important that is both to our members and the agency itself.”

Weihsmantel currently works with 41 clients. “My goal is to make sure my clients’ HIV is managed,” Weihsmantel said. “We try to eliminate as many barriers as we can by focusing on all the other things people have to deal with like financial strains, getting access to benefits, housing, and life goals. So much of the work I do as a case manager is work that helps remove obstacles that clients face structurally and within themselves to navigate those systems. We work to make sure that they have the easiest access to whatever they need to live the best lives they can.”

The Aliveness Project building at 3808 Nicollet Ave. Photo courtesy of The Aliveness Project

Weihsmantel said it's important to celebrate every client’s achievement whether big or small. From helping clients escape domestic violence to supporting their journey towards recovery, each success is a testament to the resilience and determination of the people he works with.

The Aliveness Project also provides a cafeteria with hot meals five days a week for clients facing food insecurity, a food shelf that provides 60 pounds of groceries a month, various programs that work to house people with varying levels of housing instability, and an outreach program that works to educate the community on stigma, harm reduction, and HIV prevention. The organization also recently started providing transgender health care.

The Aliveness Project has evolved from a grassroots initiative to a comprehensive support network. From expanding outreach programs to establishing a pharmacy, the organization continues to be at the forefront of HIV care in Minneapolis. Dining Out For Life plays a pivotal role in sustaining its services.

“If you want to do something amazing, Dine Out this Thursday,” Weihsmantel said. “Talk to your local restaurants, see if they are involved. If they are not, ask why. Dining Out For Life is just one day a year but our community and The Aliveness Project exist 365 days a year. Be a part of the legacy work we are building and together, we will end HIV.”

Participating restaurants in Southwest Minneapolis are: Petite León, Nicollet Diner, Mother Cluckers, Wise Acre, Nico’s (both Hennepin and Penn Ave. locations), Little Tijuana's, Icehouse, Butter Bakery and Cafe, Cuppa Java, The Lowbrow, moto-i, Pizza Luce, Victor’s 1959 Cafe, French Meadow, Nightingale, Pizzeria Lola, Brasa, Everywhen Burger Bar, Centro, Taberna Street Tacos, New Uptown Cafe, Nighthawks, Kyathci, Union Hmong Kitchen, Luna and the Bear, Pinoli,  Barbette, Gigi’s Cafe, and Pat’s Tap.

Each restaurant chooses a percentage of profits from the day they donate to The Aliveness Project. For a full list of participating restaurants and their donation amounts check out