SAN DIEGO -- For Adams Avenue Grill owner/chef Tim Klepeis, one day is not enough for Dining Out For Life. This year, Klepeis has committed to donating 50% of his day’s sales to the event, and will extend his generosity by including all diners through the weekend who mention they are there to support Dining Out For Life.
Klepeis has been involved in Dining Out For Life since the beginning, and delights in being able to use his restaurant to support HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs at The Center.
For him, it’s deeply personal.
“My friend, Larry, has been HIV-positive for more than 23 years,” Klepeis said. “I met him shortly after he was diagnosed, and we’ve been best friends for more than 20 years. At the beginning, he was told he would have maybe seven years to live.”
At the time, there was a great deal of fear and despair associated with testing positive for HIV. Klepeis said he remembers Larry giving him power of attorney for his health care matters, and he “had an issue with it. I didn’t feel like I knew enough to make any medical decisions.” So, they teamed up to volunteer to deliver meals for Mama’s Kitchen. “I thought it would help me learn more and that I’d then be able to make better decisions if I needed to,” Klepeis said.
And learn they did. Then hope came in the form of HIV treatment advancements, and today Larry is one of Klepeis’ biggest supporters. An architect by trade, he helped design the interior of the restaurant, and continues to help beautify it with weekly floral arrangements and other design touches.
“I know he thinks of me when he gets involved with Dining Out for Life,” said Larry, who asked that his last name not be used. The two delivered meals together for eight years and the memories of that time still drive Klepeis’ commitment to HIV/AIDS awareness and education.
“I really think this is an issue that affects many lives,” Klepeis said. “When we were making a Mama’s Kitchen delivery, many years ago, I had one of the most riveting experiences of my life. We made a delivery to a grandmother. It was tough. She was HIV-positive. At that time, she just wouldn’t have been recognized as someone who would be HIV-positive. It’s still true that not enough people know how pervasive this disease has been and how many ways it affects lives. People still have their vision of what they think HIV looks like, and this still isn’t spoken about enough. Just because there have been advancements doesn’t mean there’s a cure.”
Today, after more than two decades, these best friends continue to support each other.
“He has been there for me by taking time to go on my quarterly checkups and getting me through some really low emotional times and health issues,” Larry said. “Likewise, I am there to support him. I have helped him since day one of opening Adams Avenue Grill, creating the interior design and being his No. 1 promoter.
“I will be doing something special for Dining Out For Life. I hope the guests at Adams Avenue Grill feel they not only got a remarkable meal and incredible service, but also contributed to a wonderful cause,” Larry said. “Dining Out For Life is about giving hope to many people.”
And that’s just one of the reasons Klepeis continues to participate in Dining Out For Life.
“We’ve been involved right from the beginning,” Klepeis said. “The Center focuses on inclusion and I love that. They put the messages out there on this issue and so many others. I love Delores (The Center’s chief executive officer Dr. Delores A. Jacobs), and I completely trust her vision and leadership. The results have been amazing; not only in our community, but in building a more inclusive community.”
And Klepeis has seen how a more supportive community can be built through events like Dining Out For Life.
In describing the atmosphere in his restaurant on Dining Out for Life day, Klepeis said it is “an amazing, enlightened feeling. There’s a cross section who are there for Dining Out and people who are just coming in as regular customers. When they are given the explanation as to what’s going on, then they become soldiers as well. Again, it’s all about inclusion; we can come together on this one issue.
I think what happens when people are made aware of what Dining Out For Life is about – from whatever walk (of life) they come from – they get to participate in a comfortable way. There are folks who come in who may not have a lot of exposure to HIV-positive people or to The Center. On that day, when they step out of their comfort zones and you see them contribute, that’s the magic.”
And that’s why Larry working hard to make things look great for Dining Out for Life and why his best friend will be cooking up a storm and giving so generously to help others.
Make your reservations for Thursday, April 26 (or for the following Friday or Saturday) and tell them you’ll be there for Dining Out For Life. Just call Adams Avenue Grill at 619-298-8440 and for more information, click HERE.
Left photo: Chef Tim with friend Larry.