Take a bar chock full of great wine; mix with a hearty helping of tapas; add three equal parts lifelong friendship; and add a double dose of independent film. Garnish with an eclectic mix of people...et voila.
These are the ingredients that go into the upcoming Evening of Film for Dennis Koehler, a benefit event hosted by childhood friends and South Florida natives Ben Lubin, Jordan Kessler and Josh Koehler.
The event is a grassroots collaborative effort conceived by the trio who joined together to pool their career accomplishments for the greater good. Their goal: raise money and awareness for the Dennis Koehler Health Fund to benefit Josh's dad.
Dennis Koehler, 69, isn't just your average Vietnam veteran, or the good-willed attorney who represents other vets for free.
For more than three decades Koehler was also a model of Palm Beach
County public service. He even spent eight years as a county
Today, Koehler is fighting
something much bigger than political battles - stage 4
melanoma. Since his diagnosis in 2008, the costly melanoma treatments have added up. It is his friends' and family's hope that Wednesday's
fundraiser will raise enough money to help pay for more treatments.
The night starts at 6 p.m. with a showing of independent film Drones followed by All American Orgy at 8 p.m. at the Lake Worth Playhouse. A Q&A with producer / actor Jordan Kessler follows the films.
If you've seen The Black Dahlia, you may already be familiar with Kessler. He helped produce that 2006 drama, and has worked in production on a number of other films including The Wicker Man and The Grey Zone. A former West Palm Beach resident who now lives in Los Angeles, Kessler produced and appears in Drones and All American Orgy (both of which have been screened at film festivals around the world).
After the movies, from about 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the party moves to Lubin's wine and tapas bar, The Blind Monk. Proceeds will go to Koehler's health fund.
"This event is really to help the family. They've been through a lot, and anything we can do to help contribute to helping with [Josh's dad's] medical costs will be greatly appreciated," says Lubin.
Both Dennis and Josh Koehler will also be in attendance to personally thank those who have come in support of their family.
"My son will make sure I stay up that late," Koehler has said.
The Blind Monk is among West Palm Beach's newest additions, a clandestine abode tucked away on a quiet side street a stone's throw from downtown that houses a formidable wine selection.
Lubin has built up a dedicated clientele despite the bar's location off the beaten path. Situated on the quiet side street at 410 Evernia in suite 107 of the Whitney Building, The Blind Monk is removed from the hustle and bustle of City Place and the frenzy of Clematis Street. Its charm is in its simplicity: quiet, candlelit tables arranged on the outdoor patio; cozy tables for two in the dimly lit interior; a giant couch for sinking in and sipping away; and the intimate L-shaped bar where you can comfortably rub elbows with your neighbor.
It may be tucked away, but The Blind Monk is clearly sought out. Near 9 p.m. on a recent Monday evening, it was a full house of drinkers and diners in various stages of infatuation with the place -- many close friends of Lubin.
Lubin had no restaurant experience to speak of -- he's actually spent much of the past decade serving in the Marines and completed two tours in the Middle East. He studied English at the University of Florida and went to Columbia University, where he earned a master's degree in International Affairs (that was his calling, or so he thought). He was actually up for two jobs at the State Department, but when those fell through, he went on a road trip to reconsider his path.
"I came back and said 'f@#k it. I'm opening my own place.' And finally, one day, we opened," said Lubin, who originally envisioned a quiet coffeehouse in the space currently occupied by his busy wine bar.
One thing led to another, and with a friend's prodding, The Blind Monk came into focus - along with the help of sommelier Krystal Kinney. Kinney has assembled an arsenal of unique wines that range from the interesting to the unknown, and in a price range that any budget can handle.
"Ultimately, I wanted to create a place that was unpretentious, friendly," said Lubin. "Something that appeals to everyone. Whether you're from the Island or wherever, it doesn't matter. This is your local, neighborhood wine bar."
If you're in the mood for good company, wine and food, be sure to find your way to The Blind Monk this Wednesday.
For questions about the event, contact event coordinator Leslie Mann at 561-215-2382, or e-mail email@example.com.
Tickets cost $8 per person, per film. To purchase tickets in advance call the Lake Worth Playhouse at 561-586-6410.
Here are the film summaries:
Drones: Brian is an office drone. He spends his days at OmniLink in comforting monotony facilitating the movement of product around the country, faxing, copying, joking with his best friend, Clark, and harmlessly flirting with fellow cubicle-mate, Amy. But how well does anyone really know the people they work with? When Brian discovers an improbable secret about his best friend, everything in his world changes, and his safe life of workplace detachment is no longer an option. Visit http://dronesmovie.com/
All American Orgy: Nothing is more relaxing than a trip to cottage country with a group of friends...enjoying the outdoors, beers by the lake.....and a friendly orgy. Hoping to broaden their horizons, and save their relationships, see the mayhem that ensues when three couples mix sex, drugs and alcohol in a crazy weekend getaway to Cummings Farms. Visit http://www.cummingsfarm.com/
If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please make checks payable to Friends of Veterans, Inc. (Note in subject line: Koehler Health Fund). Send to Dennis at 1966 Richard Lane, West Palm Beach, FL, 33406.