Mar 30, 2009 Dwayne Houghton Uncategorized
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.”
Indeed, some 16 entrants vied for the honor of having the top recipe this year, won last year by Dan Short, ‘Shorty’ to all who know him. Short took the trophy last year by getting the majority of votes and brought home a new crock pot as first prize.
“Everyone wants to beat me this time so I brought back-up with me,” Short said grinning and pointing out a few friends and relatives he brought along.
The sizeable crowd sampled all the chilies from the bubbling crock pots, tried their luck at door prizes donated by many local business owners, wine and beer distributors and bought tickets for 50-50 raffles. In the end, close to $1,100 dollars was raised. People also donated canned goods and food parcels to help stock the shelves of the pantry.
“This was wonderful,” said Judy Gelston, chairperson of the Ecumenical Food Pantry. “Times are very hard now for charities like ours and this is money we didn’t have yesterday. We are so appreciative. This money can help us with the Easter baskets we are putting together for families in need.”
“The response from the Skaneateles businesses and local shops was fantastic,” added Mike Murray, event co-organizer. “Even with things as they are with the economy, people still gave, and gave a lot.”
When it was all done and the votes were counted, Short was the winner again.
Amidst all the good-natured shouts of “fix, fix, fix” and “rigged contest,” Short made his way to the front of the crowd, took his trophy with its gold plaque noting the event and presented it to the Food Pantry as a donation.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said.
Burt would’ve agreed.
For more information on how to donate money, food or just your time to the Skaneateles Ecumenical Food Pantry, call 685-3512. Donations are accepted from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Food Pantry located behind the Skaneateles Bus Garage on Genesee Street.
Those who contributed to the 2nd Annual Morris’s Grill Chili Cook-Off are:
Valentines Pizza and Deli
Johnny Angel’s Heavenly Burgers
Doug’s Fish Fry
Blue Water Grill
1st National Gifts
Roland’s Men and Boys and Girls wear
The Kinder Garden
SJ Moore Jewelers
Hill Top Restaurant
Tea and Treasures General Store
Tom Buff Construction
Leo’s Body Shop
Bobbett Implement & Tractor Company
Gard Lorey DDS, PC
Sean Smith DDS