At the beginning of August, the restaurant community lost Marlon Casanova, who was murdered in downtown Denver as he was walking home from work at Jax Fish House. The 35 year old was stabbed multiple times by Raoul Lanius, a 53 year old homeless man, now formally charged with murder.
An experienced cook, Casanova had worked at Jax for a year, after moving from New Zealand and Los Angeles. He was also a member of the kitchen staff at the Truffle Table. Both restaurants have felt the blow of losing of one of their own.
On Thursday, August 24, Jax Fish House LoDo is raising money for Casanova’s family and honoring his memory with an event. The restaurant located at 1539 17th Street is donating 40% of all proceeds starting at 4 p.m. There will also be a drawing for prizes, including a Jax crab boil for 10. Jax also set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate directly.
Casanova’s death gave Karin Lawler, owner of the Truffle Table, a reason to reflect both on the family that is the restaurant community and also on the state of homelessness in the hot growing city that is Denver. She shared the message below:
I miss my friend Marlon. I wrote and re-wrote this several times going through the typical words and phrases when writing about someone you love that has died. It won’t do for Marlon, though. There are no words to express the hurt and pain that everyone who knew him feels. He wasn’t old or sick or ready to die. He was violently taken from his family, friends and community by a homeless man, randomly and tragically.
The restaurant community, in particular, is incredibly supportive and close. The crew at Jax and our place, Truffle Table, is missing someone that contributed so much more than just showing up for work. Marlon gave us laughter, kindness, art, generosity and companionship. The line of a restaurant is, truly, shoulder to shoulder, intimate work with another person. You get to know someone on a different level than just sitting at desks or sharing an office. We share intimate experiences, hopes, fears, memories and plans for the future.
Marlon Casanova was laid to rest in his hometown of Houston, Texas on Saturday, August 12th. I got to meet his family the weekend before when they came to get his belongings. It felt good to hug them and cry with them and share my experiences with them about their amazing son, brother, nephew, cousin and uncle. Their loss is so much greater than anything I could ever imagine.
I think the biggest thing I am taking away from this experience is my connection with my community. I see the same people on the streets, in our businesses, in the restaurants I go to, my neighbors, my friends and colleagues. This is my community and, weather I like it or not, the homeless people in my community are there. In some cases, I know their names and share what I can with them when I can.
The statistics from the Denver Homeless Initiative are staggering; I recommend looking them over as part of knowing who is sharing your city with you. Personally, I go back to food and food security when I think of the homeless population in my community. The Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council works directly with people who are hungry- no matter who they are. They are working to share food, create land that is set aside for growing food and connection to food within Denver.
I think about the homeless man that killed Marlon and wonder when he last had a good meal. I will forever keep Marlon in my heart and will work however I can in honor of Marlon to share his love of life. Part of honoring his memory is working with the homeless population in Denver. I will be doing all that I can with the Sustainable Food Policy Council in taking a bit of the stress off homeless people. Maybe if there is just one less thing for them to worry about, they will be more kind to others and feel less insecure about their world. I have compassion, not hate or anger, for what happened to Marlon and I hope this won’t happen to anyone else.
I encourage everyone to go to Jax tonight there for a beer, a bite or a full meal and to give what you can for this event. Raise your glass to Marlon, even if you didn’t know him, because he mattered and loved and cared. He was someone’s son and friend. Share compassion with the crew at Jax and then, when walking to your car, give compassion to a stranger on the streets, especially if they’re living on them.