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Smiles, Laughs, Hugs and Tears Were All Part of Norm Elvin’s ‘Trivia Night’ Farewell at the China Dine-ah [Gallery]

Norm Elvin speaks to capacity crowd at the China Dine-ah (4/23/2014)
Norm Elvin speaks to capacity crowd at the China Dine-ah (4/23/2014)

My friend Norm Elvin barely choked back tears as he spoke to the large group that had gathered for trivia at the restaurant he started nearly seven years ago. That really hit me because, it seems like just a year or two ago, I was walking in to the Dine-ah for the first time. That first weekend was happy chaos as the crew inside (a bunch of whom are still there) were getting their sea legs.

Six and a half years later, I’m standing inside what has become a well oiled machine and local landmark, listening to my dear friend Norm Elvin as he tells the gathered patrons, “it’s been a good run and now, Lisa (Wardwell) will take over and make it even better.”

It was hard to hold back the tears. Some folks didn’t. Norman put his heart and soul into this place since it’s opening night and had his hand in customer satisfaction right up to the present time, answering thousands of emails personally, most of them complimentary. A few of them, not so much. Even so, Norm was gracious in his replies to all of them. The few negative ones he’d get, he took very personally. I understand that because we’re a lot alike in that sense.

“This isn’t for me,” he told me on more than one occasion. “I can’t let this stuff roll off my back.”

It is traits like this that make Norm Elvin the man he is and I’ve gotten to know him well. I can tell you, straight from my heart, that I have never known a more generous, more compassionate, more giving man than Norm Elvin. He loves people and his biggest downfall (if you can call it that) is he wants everybody to be happy. He knows that’s not always possible but he will use whatever tools he has to make it happen.

Several years ago, my roof was full of snow so, being that Norm was a roofing guy, I figured he’d know someone reliable who could help me out. I called and he told me, “I know just the people, I’ll get right back to you.”

Fifteen minutes later he got back to me. In person. He and his two sons, Kyle and Derek, with shovels in hand. THIS is who Norm Elvin is. THIS is what he does.

All that said, it should reassure us all that the Dine-ah will now be in the best hands possible. Norm wanted Lisa to be the one to bring it to the next level. She (and daughter, Ashley) have the energy, the plan, the know how and the passion to make the Chine-ah Dine-ah an even brighter beacon in the community than it already is. I know she has the support of Norm, the staff, me and our community. We’ll all rally around Lisa and help her succeed for the good of all of us!

Now, please enjoy these photos from the final trivia night of 2014!

Next: Sale of the Dine-ah

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