From 5 to 11 p.m. tonight, they'll gather at Vesper Lounge, which Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno opened this past Saturday, to "raise a glass and help those in need" -- by raising attention and funds for those still suffering in New Jersey. See also: - Exclusive first look: Frank Bonanno's Vesper Lounge opens tonight - Hurricane Sandy relief being served up by Denver restaurants
Bonanno, who just opened Vesper ten days ago, ago, grew up in New Jersey and his family spent summers on the beach in Mantoloking. He still returns to New Jersey every year for holidays and family vacations -- and after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey is very much on his mind. "There's still a ton to do," he says. "The Jersey Shore will never return to the way I knew it growing up. We're too far away to help directly, so we're doing the best we can from here, in Denver."
The group of Jersey natives working on the benefit range from politicians to arts administrators to a few fixtures on the dining scene, including bartender Sean Kenyon, a contributor to Cafe Society, along with public relations consultant Wendy Aiello, who's worked for -- and in -- restaurants around town, and worked with Bonanno to create the benefit. "I have lived in Colorado for over thirty years, but when someone asks me where I'm from, I still say New Jersey. You never stop being a Jersey girl, says Aiello. "Everyone on the host committee is from New Jersey. We want to dowhatever we can to help. So many people are struggling -- it is heartbreaking."
"I try to give back the best I know how, and that's through food," Bonanno says. "We'll donate 100 percent of all sales from the evening because we've always believed that we should give as much as we can. It's my firm belief that that's how all people should proceed with their charitable endeavors."
Admission is $20, all of which will go to Community FoodBank of New Jersey (via the Westfield Rotary Club). And that's also where 100 percent of all food and liquor sales tonight will be donated.