As we approach the one-year anniversary of everything changing due to a global pandemic we sometimes forget how things used to be in the BC era (Before COVID).

For example last February like I had done in previous years I toasted the birthday of the late Phil Citta during a fundraiser in his memory at his place, the Office Restaurant & Lounge. As always it was a gala affair with lots of activity all day and night and all for a great cause.  The J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center at Community Medical Center was established shortly after his death in 2006 from pancreatic cancer with a $1 million donation from the Citta Family.

The 16th annual memorial fundraiser will take place today at the popular Toms River restaurant but it will be quite different from the previous ones which raised in excess of $300,000 for the cancer center which allows local patients and their families to get quality care without having to travel outside of the area.

There won’t be any raffles for great prizes (I’ve won a few) and the bar itself will not be filled like in years past because of the restrictions in place but that will not deter the Office from honoring their founding father on the same week he would have celebrated his 77th birthday.

15% of ALL sales today will be donated to the cancer center. That’s food and drink from when they open at 11:30 a.m. until last call at 1:30 a.m.  You can obviously stop in or if you prefer order take out. Either way you will be helping support a very important cause because cancer doesn’t stop for COVID.

Phil was truly a colorful character who had a long list of friends.  Many are like me in that every time they walk into the lounge he created expect to find him behind the host station wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt with glasses dangling around his neck.  He won’t be there but his memory lives on in the countless number of families who have benefited from the cancer center just a mile up the road.

Happy birthday buddy. I’ll be in later to life a glass in your honor.

Phil Citta (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

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