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Zirpoli: Former Maggie’s owner Jim Breuer made a difference through his community service | COMMENTARY

After 30 years as owner and operator of Maggie’s Restaurant, Jim Breuer recently retired. He took over at Maggie’s in 1990, six years before I moved to Westminster to take the Human Services Management graduate coordinator position at McDaniel College and become the CEO of Target Community & Educational Services.

One of my first meetings with Breuer occurred soon after I moved. I was confronted with my first golf tournament, one of our agency’s fundraisers at the time. Not a golfer, nor a fundraiser, I had no idea how to organize a golf tournament and, at the time, didn’t have a full-time development person to help.

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As Breuer tells the story, his restaurant held a golf outing with a group of customers, raised some money, and decided to donate it to our agency. That, according to Breuer, was the start of Target’s golf tournament. So I went to Maggie’s, introduced myself to Breuer as the new CEO of Target Community & Educational Services, and told him of my predicament. He assured me that if I would be responsible for gathering the sponsors, he would organize the tournament itself. I was relieved. After that, our agency had many successful golf tournaments with Breuer as our leader and Maggie’s as our primary sponsor. We do not hold golf tournaments anymore, but I will always be grateful to Breuer for his early and ongoing support of our agency.

Breuer eventually joined our board of directors in 2006 and served until 2012, ending his term as board chair. He did a great job, not surprisingly, given his experience with other organizations, especially the Restaurant Association of Maryland where he served as board chair in 2008-2009.

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I tell folks the golf story because it reflects the kind of person Breuer is and has been for decades. I know there are many people in Carroll County and across Maryland who could tell you similar stories about Breuer lending a helping hand during a time of need or for a good cause. He is the kind of guy who checks on others and helps however he can.

In addition to running Maggie’s, Breuer was very active in the Maryland Restaurant Association, giving his time and energy in advocating for restaurants and owners around the state. I also noticed how supportive he was of other restaurants, sharing supplies and other resources as needed, especially in Westminster. It is interesting to observe how our local restaurants support each other and look out for each other.

Bernie Vogel of JeannieBird Baking Company told me, “Jim is a man who always had a vision for the greater good and prosperity of the downtown Westminster community. He was known to frequent many of the restaurants in our community and was always interested in how we were doing. The hallmark of a good restaurateur is someone who finds the time to support his fellow local restaurant community.”

Breuer is an interesting guy. He graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a degree in biology and a minor in physics and chemistry — the perfect skill set for a bartender, right?

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He was a volunteer with the American Red Cross helping to feed thousands of Vietnamese refugees following the Vietnam war. He hosted an annual Charity Day to support Carroll Hospital Center Auxiliary. Ellen Finnerty Myers, Vice President of Corporate Development for Carroll Hospital and BridgingLife (formerly Carroll Hospice), said, “Jim has been a good neighbor and friend to Carroll Hospital and BridgingLife. He held numerous charity nights benefiting us and most recently promoted breast health and cancer services on the windows at Maggie’s. He is kind-hearted and a great friend to our community.”

Breuer was an active promoter of the greater Westminster business community, beyond the restaurant sector. He established the Downtown Westminster Coalition to better promote and market the city. The Coalition is noted for the Westminster Wine Stroll and the Oyster Stroll.

Upon retirement, we all want to know that we made a difference. Breuer made a difference, not just by giving us the joy of eating a great crab cake or bison burger at Maggie’s, but by donating his time, organizational skills, and his energy to the larger community. Westminster and the restaurant community is a better place because Jim Breuer gave of himself. We are grateful.

Also, for the record, I’m not related to Thomas Zippelli, the new owner of Maggie’s. But I must say, he has a great name! I hope he understands that he also has big shoes to fill.

Tom Zirpoli is program coordinator of the Human Services Management program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster and his column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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