Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Restaurants raise money
for slain manager's family

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - Northern Kentucky's eating establishments are rallying around the family of a slain restaurant manager. In less than a week, local restaurants have raised more than $8,000 for the family of Mark Allen Smith. The 36-year-old father of two was shot once in the face after closing Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Crestview Hills a week ago Monday.

Authorities say they are making progress in the investigation but have made no arrests.

Most of the contributions were generated at a Sunday night fund-raiser at Tropicana, a club at Newport on the Levee.

Dining room employees donated their wages for Sunday's dinner to Smith's family. Tropicana owner Jeff Ruby also donated all of the profits from Sunday night's bar and meals to the Smiths, for a total donation of $8,000.

Elsewhere, O'Charley's Restaurant in Florence has collected about $350 for the 36-year-old restaurant manager's family since placing a donation jar at the hostess stand last Wednesday. Panera Bread has designated three donation boxes for the Smith family at its Crestview Hills store.

"Mark Smith was a fellow restaurant employee who grew up around here," said Amanda Barbour, manager of the O'Charley's restaurant at 7414 Turfway Road. "We (also) have a few employees who came here from Applebee's, and some who patronize Applebee's. We realize that it could just as easily have been one of our managers who was killed or injured."

Ruby said he was prompted to host the fund-raiser after learning that Smith spent his last day cheering on his 6-year-old son at T-ball before watching a Reds game with the family. "His friends said that Mark had taken his son to his first T-ball game, then turned to his wife and said, 'Honey, this is what life's all about.' That really moved me," Ruby said. "They also showed a picture of (Smith) serving in the Marines. When I saw that, I called the TV stations and said, 'I want to raise money for this family.' "

Ruby said he would have hosted the fund raiser "even if Mark Smith had worked at Home Depot."

Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police have referred all calls on the investigation to Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Bill Crockett."I think they've been making good steady progress," Crockett said. "That last time I spoke with the police, they were very upbeat. They felt that things were going well."

Crockett said police don't believe that robbery was a motive, although they are not ruling it out.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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