Tony Ricci: Extending His Generosity to Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation for 2020
Throughout 2019, you may have read our articles on a unique collaboration between Tony’s Steaks and Seafood of Indianapolis, Carmel Travel Company and Carmel Monthly that has benefitted the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation (CCPL Foundation).
Wining and Dining for Literacy
Tony Ricci, proprietor of Tony’s, and his outstanding staff have been hosting a themed wine pairing dinners at their gorgeous downtown Indianapolis location for 24 people—once a quarter—with the sole purpose of supporting the digest of 1,500 free children’s programs that are offered by the Carmel Clay Public Library, which the CCPL Foundation supports.
The previous events of this quarterly series were sellouts and astounding successes for the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation. To say that Ricci has been generous with these wonderful dinners is a gross understatement. He has donated all the cost, including food, wine and venue, so that the CCPL Foundation retains the entire $175 per person ticket price. Ricci and the CCPL Foundation have recently announced that Tony’s will be donating another round of pairing dinners—one for each upcoming quarter—to the CCPL Foundation for 2020. The CCPL Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Hamilton estimates that the total to be received by the Foundation through this series will be upwards of $33,000.
Owner Tony Ricci and his remarkable staff at Tony’s have been showcasing their best culinary skills and superb hospitality to the attendees, comprised of CCPL Foundation board members and other supporters of Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation and the library in general.
Assisting Ricci at these events is the general manager at Tony’s of Indianapolis, Michael Morgan, who is as much a showman as he is an impressive host.
Ricci, Morgan and Corporate Chef de Cuisine Ryan Montgomery have been wowing the attendees of these events with the exquisite food and wine pairings but also with their overall presentation and knowledge of the courses’ and wines’ origins without overindulging on the pomp and pretension.
Every pairing at these events for CCPL Foundation has been a perfect marriage between the wines and the courses, and nothing has been served in duplication. Each experience has truly been first-class.
A Faithful Promise
Ricci shared with us that his family moved from Italy to Toronto, Canada, and from Toronto to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the ’70s. As a young immigrant who did not speak English, Ricci did not have access to the types of support systems that exist today, which is why he passionately supports institutions such as libraries.
“I had to use a library in order to learn English,” Ricci said. “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.”
In May 2010, Tony’s of Cincinnati opened after a long and arduous journey for Ricci. His passion, faith and perseverance, along with the support of his wife, family and friends who believed in his vision, have led him to own and operate three locations: Tony’s of Cincinnati, Tony’s of Lexington and Tony’s of Indianapolis, which opened in 2018.
Ricci shared, “When I opened [Tony’s] Cincinnati, 10 years ago, I didn’t have payroll for that first week. I went into my Catholic church and I looked at the guy on the cross and said, ‘OK, you know what I promised you,’ and I’ve never thought about cash flow ever again. I promised Him that I would give back, and aside from the feeling that giving back gives me, that is the reason why I do it. To me, the library is going to help a young child or person 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.”
Carmel Clay Public Library’s digest of expansive programs includes 2,200-plus free programs in total for library members of all ages.
Elizabeth Hamilton, Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation director, said, “I think what’s been most exciting to me is that Tony has afforded us [the CCPL Foundation] an opportunity to bring lovers of literacy together to support the library and the free programming that we offer to our community in a very unique way that’s out of the box. Tony’s willingness and generosity comes from his love of libraries. The money that has and will be raised through these dinners is going toward our children’s programs and will help us continue to offer over 1,500 free programs to children and to support early literacy in our community. To me, that’s unbelievable.”
Hamilton continued, “For each dinner we’ve had 24 people, and he [Tony] has allowed us to offer this experience to nearly 100 people—to date—who love literacy and love what the library does in our community. For us to give back while spending an evening with each other and enjoy not only an amazing meal and amazing wines but interacting with each other on a very unique level—that’s something we’ve been able to do thanks to Tony and his staff. It is super generous and so incredible.”
When asked what it means to Ricci to be able to help support CCPL’s children’s programs and early literacy, Ricci said, “What it means to me is that children and adults of all ages have an opportunity to better themselves. Being from Italy, this is one of the greatest countries in the world that provides opportunities for those who might be a little behind get to the other side of the eight ball. Helping to create those opportunities is what it’s all about for me.”
To request more information and/or to reserve your seats for the next Tasting at Tony’s of Indianapolis Benefiting the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation on January 29, 2020, at 6:30 p.m., please email Elizabeth Hamilton at [email protected]
Tickets are $175 per person and include a themed dinner and selected wine pairings in one of Tony’s private dining rooms.
For more information about or to make reservations to dine with your family or friends at Tony’s at Indianapolis, visit tonysofindianapolis.com.
Read our story about Tony Ricci – the owner of Tony’s Steaks & Seafood of Indianapolis