Last Friday would have been Phil Citta’s 79th birthday and clearly there would have been a celebration of some kind, maybe at The Office Restaurant & Lounge which was often referred to as “Phil’s Place.”  He was not just the owner but the face that greeted customers for almost 30 years before his passing from pancreatic cancer in 2004.  When you entered the popular Toms River restaurant and bar you would find him behind the host station usually wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt with reading glassed dangling around his neck.

Phil’s passing not only left a huge void in his restaurant but in the community where he was well known, liked and admired.  Of course the Citta Family has for many decades been a significant part of Toms River and known for their philanthropy.  So it was not a giant surprise that following his death the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center was established at Community Medical Center and it started with a $1 million donation from the Citta Family.

However the management and staff of The Office along with family and friends wanted to do something to keep Phil’s memory alive so in 2006 they celebrated his birthday with a party at the restaurant that served as a fundraiser…and they’ve done it every year since.

A few days after his actual birthday the 18th Annual Phil Citta Memorial Fundraiser is set for this Wednesday with a percentage of net sales to be donated to the cancer center that bears his name.  In addition there will be an auction and prizes throughout the day and night. So far the previous birthday fundraisers have resulted in well over $300,000 in donations.

On Wednesday help the cause by stopping in for lunch, dinner, or a cocktail, even order takeout or use Doordash.  For those planning to dine in you might want to make a reservation by calling (732) 349-0800.

Happy Birthday Phil…I can’t believe you’ll be 80 next year.

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