The Woods Restaurant Serves an Extra Helping of Generosity


CATEGORY: News and Community; Philanthropy
​“This is a great bunch of caring people,” The Woods owner Chad Chillemi said as he readied Chicken Tosca for more than 60 patients and their guests at Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake Jan. 20.

Chillemi, who also owns the adjoining Behind the Woods party center in Rocky River, is no stranger to serving at Hospice of the Western Reserve’s west side hospice house for its monthly Meal to Remember program. The night’s dinner, which included sides, dessert and wine, marked the third time in the past 12 months The Woods hosted the event.

The evening is an important part of Chillemi’s giving back.

“My dad passed away in 2013,” he said. “Hospice of the Western Reserve came to his home and did a wonderful job. I take pride in being able to serve some of them what might be a last meal together with loved ones. I’ve gotten some real nice compliments.”

He enlisted the help of girlfriend Anita Maximin and John Andrasey, one of his father’s best friends, to help serve an at-capacity seating.

Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Meal to Remember program was created in 2011. Local restaurants volunteer their time and the meal for the once-a-month event that allows seriously—and often terminal—patients to enjoy a restaurant-quality meal with their families  in the festively decorated atriums at both Ames Family Hospice House and the David Simpson Hospice House on the east side of Cleveland. A selection of fine wines for all the dinners is donated by Scoperta Importing. . Volunteer musicians frequently provide dinner music. A host of other volunteers contribute to the dinner by making centerpieces and helping with setup and serving.  The night includes a piano player and the opportunity for patients to have photos taken with their loved ones.

The meal takes on special symbolic meaning for families during this difficult time in their lives.  The simple ritual of sharing a delicious meal together is often lost when a loved one becomes seriously ill.  For many, it may be the last time they eat together.

“I like that they get to spend some time with loved ones,” Chillemi said, adding that “making people happy” is a big part of it.

The night is also a way for Chillemi to pay tribute to his father, Dominic Chillemi who founded The Woods and Dominic’s Pizza in 1965 with his wife Vulia. Chad took over the establishment in 1983, adding Behind the Woods, a party center.

“It’s impossible to overstate how much the simple act of sitting around the table together to enjoy a meal means to our families,” said Bill Finn, CEO of Hospice of the Western Reserve.  “Meal to Remember supports our goals of fostering quality time for patients and families, and making Ames Family Hospice House a ‘home away from home.’ We’re extremely grateful to The Woods and the other participating restaurants for their generosity.”

Chillemi said he would like to see other west-side restaurants involved.

“I’d like to see my fellow restaurateurs chip in a little more and help out,” he said. Other restaurants that have participated on the west side include Luxe, Fire, Burntwood Tavern, Greenhouse Tavern, Spice Kitchen, Strip, Tartine Bistro and Jammy Buggar’s.

For more information on Hospice of the Western Reserve contact Bridget Murphy at 216-383-3715.

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