June 2019 Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Submitted We live in an uber-connected world, and today’s fast-paced environment requires mutually beneficial partnerships to leverage resources and creative solutions that sometimes serve beyond the marketplace and into the nonprofit sector. The publishers of Carmel Monthly and I are honored to have partnered with Tony’s Steaks and Seafood of Indianapolis and Carmel Travel Company on a unique and creative way to bring like-minded folks together for a delectable dinner and wine-pairing experience that will benefit the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation. Tony Ricci Later this month, Tony Ricci, owner at Tony’s, and his remarkable staff will host 25 individuals who have purchased tickets to the first of four themed dinner and wine-pairing events to be held at Tony’s Steaks and Seafood of Indianapolis. The proceeds will go to the CCPL Foundation, which in turn will be used to support the Carmel Clay Public Library’s digest of expansive programs for library members of all ages. The idea was conceived one festive winter evening while my husband and I were enjoying another mind-blowing meal at Tony’s along with our dear friends, Melisa and Todd Keiser. Melisa owns Carmel Travel Company and sits on the board of directors for the CCPL Foundation. After conversing with Michael Morgan, general manager at Tony’s of Indianapolis, we had developed a plan to host a tasting event as a fundraiser for the library foundation and planned to meet with Ricci, Neil Lucas (publisher of Carmel Monthly),and Morgan to pitch the idea to Ricci. Ricci’s reputation, generosity and support for community institutions such as libraries precedes him. Having said that, we did not expect that he would open his restaurant for not just one dinner and pairing event but for one each quarter of the year (4 total events), of which 100% of the proceeds will benefit the CCPL Foundation. When asked why the fundraiser for the foundation was an important cause to be involved in, he explained that as a young immigrant who came over in the ’70s from Italy to Cincinnati, he did not have access to the types of support systems that exist today. “I had to use a library in order to learn English,” Ricci shared. “I had to be in the library and study longer than my friends because I didn’t understand the language. There was a library right across from my school, and I spent a great amount of time there throughout my youth.” Ricci, who is a man of deep faith, continued, “When I started my businesses, I’d made promises that I would give back whenever I can. To me, the library is going to help a young child out there who’s struggling. A child who is going to the library to study and focus more so that he/she can bring up their grades and get into the college that they want. That was me. If I can help in raising money and awareness, then that is the reason why I do it. I don’t do it for any other reason.” Keiser expressed why Carmel Travel Company is excited to be part of the collaboration. “We are so excited to be a part of the group that is putting together these amazing tasting events,” Keiser said. “Collaborating with Carmel Monthly Magazine and Tony’s of Indianapolis to raise funds for the CCPL Foundation is the culmination of great teamwork and friendship. I think it’s fantastic that we’ve found a way through our businesses to share our love for the library while providing a way to experience new tastes and cultures at the same time. Appreciating fine dining, travel and reading are some of our great loves. What a great way to combine all these experiences and help serve the community at the same time!” Ricci described, in brief, what guests of these tasting/pairing events will experience. Those who are truly curious to learn more will need to contact Elizabeth Hamilton, CCPL Foundation director, to sign up for the wait list for the next event at Tony’s of Indianapolis in September—the June event is sold out! “People are going to see that we are more than what you see on the menu,” Ricci said. “We truly love our business and what we do. We truly care about the experience and the food. I believe it’s not going to be long before people in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas find out that there’s a lot more to us than just a place to go sit down and have dinner. What your guests will find out that evening, with this menu, is that it’s going to be Tony’s on steroids as far as presentation, quality, the pairings and so on and so forth.” Hamilton weighed in on why having the support of businesses is key to the CCPL Foundation’s ability to financially support the existing and future programming offered by the Carmel Clay Public Library. “To have somebody like Tony , who loves libraries and used libraries to better himself and his life, is really why we exist,” Hamilton said. “We want to be that service to everyone that helps them broaden themselves. Without people like him, who are willing to step up and support our efforts, we wouldn’t be able to offer all the free programming that we are able to offer. Without that kind of support, we’d be existing as just a repository for books and not as a functioning community center, and that is what libraries really are—institutions that are here to better the world. We’re all stepping out of the ‘bubbles’ that we live in and are finding ways that we can continue to grow and spread the word about what we do.” To request more information and/or to reserve your seats for the next Tasting at Tony’s of Indianapolis Benefiting the CCPL Foundation in September, please email Elizabeth Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org. The date for the September event will be finalized by July 10. Tickets are $150 per person and include a themed dinner and selected wine pairings in one of Tony’s private dining rooms.