Eat your heart out

When you talk to Matt Harper about
his restaurant and experience his contagious enthusiasm, it’s not hard understand
how he and partner Eddie Cerino, their employees at Eddie’s Creekside
Restaurant and the citizens of Brecksville raised nearly $17,000 for a family
which lost a husband and father in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The fund-raising idea was born
after Harper attended a vigil for his neighbor, Bill Moskal, an executive who
died while working at the World Trade Center.

Harper had "an overwhelming
feeling" his restaurant could help the Moskal family, so he called an
employee meeting Sept. 16. Every employee attended, eager with ideas to help
Bill Moskal’s his wife, Lorraine, and their teen-aged daughter and son.

“We needed to raise as much
money as we could, as fast as we could,” Harper says.

They decided to host a fund-raiser
on a Sunday — the restaurant’s busiest day — and donate all profits to the
family. Additional employees joined the regular shift, and everyone agreed to
donate their pay and tips.

Harper also sent out press releases
to the media, the community and surrounding businesses and vendors to draw
people to the event.

The day began with a prayer for
those lost in the attacks. Neighbors poured coffee. Television stations and
newspapers covered the event. And Brecksville firefighters collected money for
the families of the New York firefighters who perished.

That day, nearly 1,300 people ate
at the restaurant, setting a record.

“There was a line out the door
the entire day,” Harper says. “Nobody minded giving up their tables
after they were done eating so others could sit down, and people even ordered

Soon after, Harper and Cerino took
a check to an emotional Lorraine Moskal, who told them not to take anything for

Harper says the fund-raiser was
successful due in part to his employees’ generosity.

“Get your employees involved
in what you want to do, and let them help do it,” he says. “If you
let them shape policy, they will take ownership of it. It generates pride and

Eddie’s also regularly contributes
food and gift certificates to local schools, churches and organizations.

“Some small businesses look at
contributions as a cost. We look at it as an investment in the community,”
Harper says. “Every action causes a reaction. Good things happen when you
do good things.”

How to reach: Eddie’s
Creekside Restaurant: (440) 546-0555.