Restaurateur left a legacy far beyond his food

When word filtered into our office earlier this week that popular restaurateur/philanthropist Matt Haley had been involved in a motorcycle accident in India, you could hear a collective gasp. When we learned Wednesday morning that he had succumbed to those injuries... we were an office in mourning.

Through advertising, interviews and various events throughout the community, many of us have had the good fortunate of getting to know him over the years, and all of those interactions were positive ones. He even wrote a guest column on cooking for us when we were first starting out and greatly contributed to our legitimacy in the area just through his presence.

He was our client. He was our go-to source for many stories. He was our friend.

His accomplishments are known by most of you already, and if you are unaware of those, read the story on page A1 of this week’s paper. You will no doubt be impressed by all he has done in his all-too-brief lifetime.

What we want to convey in this space, outside of the news story on his passing and legacy on the front page, is something he possessed that is more intangible — something you felt while talking with him, as opposed to what you learned by a list of his accomplishments.

Matt made things happen that he wanted to have happen. He impressed upon you in every conversation that he was the kind of guy who could accomplish anything he set out to do, and he had a way of making you feel like you had that ability inside yourself, as well. He believed strongly in positive thinking and hard work, and that there was nothing that couldn’t be done if you decided it had to be done.

That is a gift.

In that spirit, we ask all of you to look inside yourselves right now and determine what you want to do in life. Decide what it is, and come up with a plan of action to make it happen. And implore upon somebody else you talk with to do the same.

Consider it a gift to Matt Haley. Or, consider it his gift to all of us. Make you, and someone else, feel strong. Matt always did.