Ziggy’s BBQ Smokehouse and Ice Cream Parlor is being honored with a special service award this week for participating in a Dane County program that provides affordable meals to senior citizens.
The Oregon restaurant is one of five businesses in the county that will be recognized during the Wisconsin Aging and Disability Network’s annual conference in Wisconsin Dells this Thursday and Friday.
The agency is nominating five local food establishments – four restaurants and one grocery store – for the special service award for demonstrating “an exceptional commitment to welcoming and serving senior adult customers at their individual establishments through their willingness to partner through the My Meal, My Way senior dining program,” according to a news release.
The five businesses combined have helped Dane County increase program donations by more than $120,000 over three years, according to the news release. Each will receive a plaque recognizing their contribution to the program.
Ziggy’s is owned by Mike and Teri Zieglemeier, who joined the My Meal, My Way program three years ago after being informed of it by the Oregon Area Senior Center.
“I told them I’d definitely be interested,” Mike Zieglemeier told the Observer. “We get anywhere from 30 to 50 patrons and hold an average every week of at least 30.
“Some days it gets a little hectic but we make it all work,” he added. “It’s definitely worth it to us.”
The program is open to adults over 60 on Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seniors can order a meal off the menu, and because the program is donation-based, they only pay what they can afford.
The donations go back to the program, and the county reimburses Ziggy’s a certain amount for each meal they serve as part of the program.
“All of the money that’s donated goes back to the county to be recycled back into the meal program, and Ziggy’s is being paid a not-very-large amount for each meal they serve,” explained Rachel Brickner, executive director of the Oregon Area Senior Center.
“The people at Ziggy’s are modest and probably would not bring this to anyone’s attention, but we think it’s a pretty good honor,” she added.
In a news release, Dane County executive Joe Parisi said for seniors living on a fixed income, access to healthy, affordable food options can often be a struggle.
“My Meal, My Way not only connects seniors with nutritious meals, it also offers a unique way for our seniors to connect with others in our community,” he said.
Mike Zieglemeier told the Observer he supports the program because he was taught by his parents and grandparents to help people when there’s an opportunity to do so.
“I grew up on my grandparents’ farm and watched them do good for everybody,” he said. “It’s one of those things where I liked what they did for the people around them and I wanted to do the same thing.”
He said his parents were also the restaurant business, and he “grew up serving people and watching the smiles on people’s faces.”
“So I was surrounded by people that really did good for the community,” he said.