Monmouth football alumnus Joey Cioffi helping to feed healthcare professionals
Monmouth University press release
GIVING BACK IN UNCERTAIN TIMES: MONMOUTH FOOTBALL ALUMNUS JOEY CIOFFI ’99 DONATES THOUSANDS OF MEALS TO HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS IN NEW JERSEY
Almost 20 years ago a tragedy guided former Monmouth University football student-athlete Joey Cioffi out of Wall Street and into the family business as a restaurant owner/operator. Recently, Cioffi is using his own successful franchise with the help of donations ranging from $25 to a few thousand dollars to feed community members and healthcare professionals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in his native New Jersey. MonmouthHawks.com caught up with Cioffi to ask him about his start in the restaurant business, his time at Monmouth as a student-athlete and his sense of community service.
MonmouthHawks.com: How’d you first get into the restaurant business? Was it a goal coming out of Monmouth?
Joey Cioffi So, I was born into the restaurant business (I actually worked on Wall Street after I got my degree). It was not the plan, I thought I was going to break out and do my own thing, but the events of September 11, 2001 changed that. I was supposed to meet and discuss my next Wall Street job after a year at Merrill Lynch, my appointment was the morning of the attacks. I never really loved Wall Street so after that close call, I decided to jump back into the family business.
MH: You’ve done a ton for the community recently, in a time when most are being asked to eat locally to help businesses how are you able to give back to local hospitals?
JC: Tell you what, my father in law is a physician and I've always held healthcare professionals in high regard. I knew this COVID19 was going to flood our hospitals and our healthcare professionals on the frontline were going to get overwhelmed and were going to be working crazy hours. I come from a right off the boat Italian family, we were always taught to eat well if you want to have sustenance in work and sports. So I wanted to give them "Real Food'-thankfully a bunch of donors noticed and started donating to our cause. Proud to say between all my restaurants we are approaching 5,000 meals served during this crisis.
MH: You’ve made donations to more than just hospitals as well.
JC: Correct, I am a 6'1 235lb teddy bear. My heart hurt for kids who are not able to celebrate their birthdays so I was giving away to local kids- DIY pizza kits with little birthday messages. I had one girl who lost her dad this year and now is missing out on her senior year of HS. I sent her a pizza in the shape of 18 and offered to pay for a big birthday catering next year to celebrate double. We also have identified some people who are struggling financially and are dropping some care packages at their doorstep.
MH: How did attending Monmouth University and playing football prepare you for the rigors of owning your own business?
JC: I love this question. Football in general is unmatched in my opinion with preparing young men for life. College football is like getting a doctorate in regards to football's way of preparing you for life. The 12-month football commitment, the balancing of school work, social life, etc. All ramped up because this is not high school anymore. You have serious obligations as an NCAA student-athlete and that in my opinion gets you even more prepared for the seriousness of adulthood. Clearly the teamwork, winning, losing, injuries all mimic the ups and downs of life but the seriousness and the REAL COMMITMENT gives you that doctorate.
MH: How much of an influence did Coach Callahan and the rest of the coaching staff have on you?
JC: Coach Callahan is and is a true leader. I've been blessed with some really great people in my life that help make me the man I am today. He was one of them, I walked into there a boy coming from High School team that never really won much, left MU a two-time NEC Champ with life skills that cannot be taught in any classroom. Coach Cal, Coach Bo [Andy Bobik] and Coach [Rich] Skrosky were outstanding coaches that are still incredible, makes me still feel relatively young to say three of my main coaches are still active.
MH: Did you have a favorite class and/or professor in your time at Monmouth?
JC: I loved Anthropology forgot the professor but I really love people and diving deeper into that was pretty cool. I also loved this Rock and Roll History Class that was held in Woods Theater, it was an elective clearly but I have a pretty deep love for all types of music. Sorry, business school lol.
MH: What is your favorite on-field memory playing for the Blue & White?
JC: My first reception no doubt, it was against the University of Dayton. It was a third and real long, Danny Sabella hit me on a Y Option at about seven yards … I stretched it out to over 20 some odd yards. Not gonna lie, I knew I had more than enough for the 1st and our scouting report had this squad stripping the football. I would be damned if my first reception was a fumble after such a nice gain on a big down. Let's be clear I did not slide! Just didn't plow through three defenders.
MH: Have you been able to get back to any games lately? What did you think of last year’s team?
JC: Yeah, I was at the Big South title -clinching game this season with my eight-year-old son, Stone. What a thrill, we got to celebrate with the team on the field, my son got to wear the HAWK GOLD CHAIN. This squad was so exciting. The balance of this squad was special but the way the guys loved each other was clear, that to me helps good teams become great and this team was great.
MH: What are you most looking forward to for the Monmouth University Football program going forward?
JC: We had a solid recruiting class and the Rutgers game is going to be monumental. My nephew played at Rutgers but that day I am walking into that stadium donning the Blue and White.
Joey Cioffi graduated in 2000 with a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. He was a four-year tight end for the Hawks (wearing No. 86) and caught his first touchdown as a junior against Robert Morris. He and his brother, Jerry, are co-owners of Cioffi’s of Springfield (www.cioffis.com) and he is the founder of The Salad House Franchise which currently has locations in four (soon to be five) locations (Millburn, Morristown, Westfield, Somerville, Livingston). If you are interested in donating can Venmo at Cioffijoey with a note: Hospital/COVID19 or buy box lunches for donation on the online ordering page on www.thesaladhouse.com