Chili cook-off raises $1,100 for food pantry

It's been quite a year for Morris's Grill.

The constant speculative conversation of "Will Morris's stay open? Who owns it now? When will it close?" all seemingly based on rumor, hearsay and nonfactual bar-talk accompanies the continuous renovation symphony of jackhammers, automatic nail drivers and circular saws as the building that is home to the iconic little oasis that is Morris's Grill goes on.

The dust, the noise, the occasional frozen pipes, the infrequent lack of heat and the unisex bathroom facilities -- none of it seems to have fazed the regulars a bit. There's poster covered plywood that encloses the north and west walls making it a little smaller place to have a cocktail and a conversation and even less room to dance on band night.

But still, no one seems to mind much.

In fact the only thing that seems to tug at the hearts of everyone who goes there is the missing smile and expected presence of Burt Lipe, the much loved previous owner who passed away suddenly in October. Patrons still expect him to come around the corner armed with that grin.

"It's been a tougher winter because of all of it," said Mary Jane Lipe, Burt's widow and current owner of the Grill, "Burt was a giving person and everyone remembers that -- the cook-off was his way of giving back."

To that memory, and the memory of his charitable nature, Mike Murray and Adam Cottrill organized the 2nd Annual Morris's Grill Chili Cook-off on March 8, to benefit the Skaneateles Ecumenical Food Pantry.

"We had to," said Cottrill. "Burt would have wanted this to continue for as long as it could. With all that's going on, all the controversy, all the stories you hear, we just had to put it all aside and do this."

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