'Pies for Eyes': Chicago area restaurant raises $13K for blind chef missing electronic glasses

ByJordan Arseneau via Localish logo
Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Legally blind chef Charlie Doman wore electronic glasses to improve his remaining vision. When the glasses went missing, his town raised money for new ones by purchasing pies.

PLAINFIELD, Ill. -- Charlie Doman, chef and manager at Moe Joe's in Plainfield, Illinois, has a huge fan base. His boss, Jamie Littell, may be his biggest fan of all.

"Chef Charlie is the most inspirational human on Earth in my book," said Littell, owner of Moe Joe's. "Nothing gets that man down."

Around four years ago, Doman was declared legally blind after suffering two strokes within a couple months.

"It was terrifying," Doman said. "I had to learn everything all over again. Showering, using the bathroom, walking."

Fearing his cooking career was over, Doman consulted with his Executive Chef, Ryan Gramit, who encouraged him to try out different stations in the kitchen. Four years later, Doman can do any job related to cooking and is now a manager at Moe Joe's.

"We never thought of him not working here," Littell said. "I was like 'we'll get the recipes in braille,' you know?!"

Despite being legally blind, Doman has a very narrow field of vision. He wears IrisVision electronic glasses to help enhance what little sight he has left so he can read order tickets and recipes. But during an event at the restaurant in April of this year, those glasses came up missing.

"We checked all the cameras and everything," Doman said. "Multiple people looked at the video system and it just, like, vanished."

Doman and Littell theorize that the glasses were stolen because they resemble virtual reality goggles. Not wanting to take up Littell's offer to buy him new glasses, Doman wanted to try doing a fundraiser instead.

"We came up with the pie idea, Executive Chef Ryan and myself," Littell said. "And it rhymed with 'eyes,' 'Pies For Eyes.'"

The team at Moe Joe's baked around 350 key lime pies and sold them to raise money to replace the missing glasses. In two days they racked up more than $13,000 in donations, making enough to purchase Doman's pair and two additional pairs for visually impaired children. They also visited 16 different hospitals, fire stations, and police stations with 100 additional pies that were purchased by people who weren't able to pick them up.

"The thing about this town is they don't let you fall and if you ask for help, they help you," Littell said. "Everyone rallies around each other here."

Littell said that after IrisVision heard about the fundraiser, they offered a discount on the glasses, allowing Doman to give away three pairs in total. Now he just has to figure out who the lucky recipients will be.

"[Charlie] just keeps going and persevering and taking everyone with him," Littell said.

For more information on Moe Joe's, visit eatmoejoes.com