NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — Niko's Bar and Gyros in North Royalton is stepping up to help the families of the 13 American service members killed yesterday in Afghanistan.
The bar posted a photo on Facebook Friday afternoon showing a table with 13 beers on it with a placard that says "reserved."
"I told my general manager I'm going to pour 13 beers and I'm going to reserve that table, she looked at me and said 'you do realize it is a Friday night?' and I go, 'yes I do, but those people are not coming back to their family," said bar owner Niko Moulagianis.
He said he felt like he owed the soldiers that much.
"If they would’ve came in here and told me they just came back from being deployed in Afghanistan, I would’ve bought them a beer," said Moulagianis. "I don't know any of these young men and women who passed away, but I feel like they were one of my own kids."
What started with 13 beers at the table, grew quickly, as customers throughout Friday night bought more to place on the table for the fallen soldiers.
Moulagianis also said that for every beer sold between now and Sept. 11, $1 will be donated to their families.
People from near and far came out to the bar Friday evening to pay tribute to the soldiers, including Ken Dooner.
"It was a pretty cool idea," said Dooner. "There’s a lot of people in harms way and it’s tough. You feel sorry for the families and you just pray for them. It’s nice that people remember that there are people in harms way and there are people are dying."
For customer Zack Wood, the loss hits close to home for him. He has two sons in the military. He traveled from Brookpark to contribute to the fundraiser.
"You go to sleep wondering if they’re going to be okay. You see an odd number that’s calling, you don't know what it is, you never know if its going to be that time and it’s going to be bad news," said Wood.
Moulagianis said he hopes the fundraiser and the table serve as a somber reminder that freedom is not always free.
"I've been to other places. I'm a proud Greek, but I wouldn’t trade this country for anything," he said. "Because of these sacrifices that these young people have made we have that luxury, for me to own my business, for these people to come into my business and enjoy their dinner and their drinks with their families and friends."
If you want to donate to the families and honor those fallen service members with a toast, you can check out Niko's Bar and Gyros at 12766 Royalton Road, North Royalton.
Another bar, The Ironwood Cafe Westlake has also reserved a table for the 13 service members.
The Ironwood Cafe is located at 688 Dover Center Road, Westlake.
Aside from the previously mentioned bars, at least two more establishments are doing something to honor the 13 fallen U.S. troops. Geneva on the Lake Brewing Company and Jacked Steakhouse both posted that they were honoring the troops.
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