It seems like it was just yesterday when I would walk into The Office Restaurant and Lounge and find Phil Citta behind the host station wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt with reading glasses dangling around his neck.

He was not only the owner but the face of the popular Toms River restaurant since it had opened its doors in 1975.  Even though he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer nearly 15 years ago I still think and will always think of The Office as “Phil’s Place” and I’m certainly not alone.

Phil would have just turned 75 years old and today as they’ve done every February since 2006 his family and friends will celebrate a life well lived with a birthday party, even if the guest of honor will only be there in spirit.

Phil Citta (Townsquare Media NJ)

In what has become a winter tradition The Office Restaurant & Lounge will host its 14th annual Phil Citta Memorial Fundraiser which benefits the cancer center at Community Medical Center that was established in his memory shortly after his death with a $1 million donation from his family.

Today’s fundraiser is an all-day, all-night event with The Office to donate 50% of all their sales plus 100% of the many and I mean many raffles that will take place throughout the day.  There are always some great prizes like bikes, fire pits, coolers, autographed memorabilia and plenty of gift cards and it’s another way for you to support the cause.

The first 13 fundraisers have resulted in more than $260,000 being donated to the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center which offers a comprehensive approach to cancer care with a full range of treatment options and support services. This allows local patients and their families to get quality cancer care without having to travel outside of the area.

So whether you stop in for lunch, dinner, a quick snack or a drink after work you are helping a great cause and keeping Phil’s memory alive.

Happy 75th buddy. I’ll stop in and toast your birthday at some point.