Riverhead Applebee’s raises more than $7,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Liz Scott drove five hours from Philadelphia to the Applebee’s on Old Country Road in Riverhead last Thursday. She wasn’t seeking a meal, but rather to thank some of the people who keep her daughter Alex’s memory and charity alive and well.

The crew at the Riverhead Applebee’s raised $7,122.50 for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises money in memory of Alexandra Scott, who died of neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, in 2004 at the age of 8. During her final four years, she held and inspired lemonade stand fundraisers for childhood cancer research, which raised more than $1 million. The restaurant’s efforts were part of an annual six-week fundraising push in which multiple Applebee’s franchises throughout the nation carry on her legacy. This year, the Riverhead Applebee’s earned the most money out of the 80 Applebee’s locations owned by the Doherty Enterprises, Inc. restaurant group throughout New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida. Collectively, the Doherty-owned Applebee’s restaurants raised more than $88,000.

“I’m very lucky as a mother that my daughter lives on,” Ms. Scott said. “She died almost 20 years ago and she’s still very much alive. Her spirit’s alive, not just through her lemonade stand and the work we do to help kids with cancer, but in the people I met today … To me, that’s very inspirational.”

The Riverhead Applebee’s has been the top earning location owned by the Doherty group multiple years in a row, prompting Ms. Scott’s venture so far from home.

“I usually meet this franchisee group in New Jersey, which is a lot closer to home, and we do a check presentation,” she explained. “But last year [in New Jersey] I asked ‘Is this the top restaurant?’ and they said ‘no.’ I thought we should do it here [in Riverhead].”

For six weeks, the wait staff at the Riverhead Applebee’s informed customers about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s efforts to fund childhood cancer research and provide financial and emotional support to families and asked them for help with a monetary donation.

“It’s a good cause so it’s easy to sell,” said Christy Lange, a server who collected more than $1,000 on her own. “[Manager Michael Murnuack] reminds us every shift to do that, he encourages us, we have a competition among the staff, so that helps too.”

“I have kids and I couldn’t imagine them with cancer so it’s absolutely something I push,” Mr. Murnuack added.

The top earner on the team, Michael Ferrante, won bragging rights for raising more than $1,400 for the nonprofit.

“It’s really just a matter of asking,” Mr. Ferrante said. “If you ask, sometimes you’ll get a ‘no’ but most of the time people will donate $1, $2, if they’re really generous they’ll donate a little more. As long as you show some kind of interest in it, they’ll donate.”