NORTH CANTON, Ohio — A North Canton restaurant is turning a longtime tradition into a way to help victims of Hurricane Ian. With customer approval, Eadies Fish House plans to donate the dollar bills it’s accumulated on its walls over 14 years.
“People have been putting dollars on our walls and creating little artworks, their names, little sayings on their dollars and hanging them on the walls,” said owner Rudy Diotale, explaining the tradition began with a customer who saw similar decor at bars and restaurants in Florida.
The bills’ homage to vacations in the Sunshine State fit the restaurant’s existing theme. Eadies is known to its customer base for its cod and walleye.
“There’s no other seafood places like this here,” gushed customer Nelda Hardie. “If you come here and don’t eat, it’s a shame.”
Diotale also curated eclectic decorations, like tiki carvings, license plates and cheeky signs, from his many trips to Pine Island and Matlacha off the coast of Cape Coral, Florida. He plans to retire to the waterfront home he purchased there with his wife.
“A lot of the aesthetics in the restaurant were inspired by Pine Island and Matlacha,” he said. “It’s an old fishing village. You don’t see hotels or condos – it’s kind of old world Florida.”
Diotale’s most recent trip to southwest Florida was several weeks after Hurricane Ian barreled across the region, destroying homes, businesses and entire communities.
RELATED: Hurricane Ian barrels across Florida, leaving destruction, flooding and power outages
“It’s unbelievable. I think my mouth was hanging open when I saw the destruction. There were roads that were gone and businesses that were blown off their pilings that were built over the water,” he recalled.
He felt compelled to help. And his restaurant had already been collecting the funds on its walls.
“I didn’t feel that the dollars were mine, I felt they were the customers’ that put them up there,” he said. “So we did a little poll and asked everyone what they thought of it. It was overwhelmingly positive, so we went from there.”
The process of collecting, organizing and donating the money has proved more challenging than originally thought. Diotale said it took his staff days to meticulously remove around 5,000 bills and organize them in neat piles of $100. The bank was unable to accept some of the more artistic dollars where markings have obscured serial numbers.
“They haven’t counted all of them yet, but about 10-15% of the bills are unreadable,” he explained. “So we’re trying to figure out some way to clean them so we can use them.”
The restaurant has been researching and crowdsourcing methods to clean the dollars.
“It just absorbs the ink. So it’s hard to get out without scraping the serial numbers off with it,” Diotale said. “We’ve tried chemicals with no luck. And we’re trying a few other different things. We have some other ideas that people threw out there that we’re going to try.”
He’s looking for a solution so he can maximize the donation to his home away from home.
“We spent a lot of time on the island, we know a lot of people on the island. It’s just kind of a hit home to us,” he said.
Eadies Fish House is still collecting funds for victims of Hurricane Ian. Donations can be dropped off in person at the restaurant at 6616 Wise Ave. NW in North Canton. You can also donate through a GoFundMe page by clicking on this link.
Diotale plans to continue the tradition of pinning the dollar bills to the walls and ceilings and says they may be used for another worthy cause down the line.
Watch live and local news any time:
News 5 Now Evening
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple devices here, and your Android devices here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We’re also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.