A Donor with a Delicious History

Mediaon June 5th, 2017Comments Off on A Donor with a Delicious History

As I weave my way through heavy afternoon traffic on Glenway Avenue I wonder about the person I am about to meet.  Skyline Chili is a dearly loved favorite. There is something about a cheese-laden, cinnamon-laced 3-way that I, like thousands of others in Cincinnati, find comforting and irresistible. I pull into the parking lot and walk into the cool, inviting interior of a Skyline restaurant. Momentarily blinded from the bright sun outside, I look around and recognize familiar upholstered seats and pristine tiled floors. A tall, handsome young man in dark slacks and a stylish shirt emerges and as we shake hands he says, “Hi! I am Nick Lambrinides. Pleased to meet you.” Nick and his dad co-own Skyline Chili on Glenway  Ave., and his family owns the Northgate and Dent locations of the restaurant.  He also happens to be the great-grandson of Skyline’s founder, Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides. I follow Nick to a quiet corner of the restaurant to learn more about Skyline’s relationship with the Freestore Foodbank.

The Lambrinides family have been generous supporters of the Freestore Foodbank since 2008 when John Young, the former President and CEO introduced Nick Lambrinides to the organization. Nick was impressed by the breadth and reach of the services offered by the Freestore. “The number of families and children that are fed each year by the Freestore Foodbank was astonishing to me,” he remembers.  He was especially inspired by Cincinnati COOKS!, the 10-week long culinary job training program run by the Freestore Foodbank  for under and unemployed individuals. Nick and his father set up an endowment to fund an annual scholarship so a COOKS! graduate can attend Cincinnati State every year. Nick was invited to serve on the COOKS! Committee in 2014, side-by-side with Board members, the CEO and staff of the Freestore Foodbank.  He is consistently impressed by  the wealth of knowledge that each Committee member brings  to the table. “They are all so dedicated and have such big hearts for the community,” he remarks.

Nick lives on the Westside of Cincinnati. His brothers live close by and they are a large, close-knit family.  Every five weeks, Cincinnati COOKS! holds a graduation ceremony. Nick remembers attending and admits that he found them moving and powerful. “I got to listen to the stories of the graduates and understood why they joined the program and how it helped them get their lives back on track. The graduates are living proof that the program works.” Nick comments.   In his opinion, the best part of the program is that it places individuals on the path to financial stability by teaching them new skills and giving them a second chance.

Nick is thankful for the opportunity to have met some amazing people while supporting the Freestore Foodbank. He oversees the finances of Cincinnati COOKS!, often getting involved in new projects and grappling with issues related to finding new funding for the program.  A few years ago he repurposed an old oven from his restaurant and donated it to the COOKS! kitchen. He is passionate about helping others and believes it is his duty to give back to the community. “Always ask God to guide you and follow your heart. Give graciously, it will always come back to you in one way or another,” he says.  As I finish up my interview I am struck by the humility and generosity of this young man.