The Paw and Cyberdog Cafe, restaurants operated by Riverside-Brookfield High School and staffed by students, will not be closing any time soon thanks to a generous grant from an anonymous benefactor.

District 208 has received an anonymous $50,000 donation to help fund operations at the Paw, the two-year old restaurant/alternative classroom, according to RB Principal/Superintendent Jack Baldermann.

The donation was made in honor of Dr. Rolf Gunnar, a renowned cardiologist and professor who has worked at Hines VA, MacNeal and Loyola hospitals. Dr. Gunnar graduated from RB in 1943.

“It will be open the next few months to say the least, and we hope to finish the lease,” said Baldermann. “There should be very minimal cost to the district.”

The Paw’s lease at its current location runs until May 2007, Baldermann said.

The Paw, and the adjacent Cyberdog Caf, opened more than two years ago. Last fall school officials indicated that the restaurants were in danger of closing because the weren’t close to being break-even financially.

RB students, including many special education students, work at The Paw, and when the District 208 school board considered closing the Paw in last August, many students spoke passionately of their desire to keep The Paw open and to continue working there.

In September The Paw received a $25,000 grant to help fund operations.

Baldermann said the new grant will allow The Paw to continue operating while the district tries to come up with a way to keep The Paw open on a long term basis and without it being a financial drain on the district.

Baldermann added that he is exploring partnering the district with an entrepreneur to help operate the Paw, which is part of the RB’s entrepreneurship program.

“We’re in a little bit of a transition right now,” said Baldermann.

?”Bob Skolnik