Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

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Amidst NE Ohio treasures, there’s just one Diamond

 

By LINDA McMULLEN

 

A fixture at any event at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights, Harlan Diamond has been the heart and soul of Executive Catering for more than 44 years. “It’s been a fascinating run,” he said, talking of expanding operations into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and other landmark venues; adding a hotel next door; and sharing in the joys and sorrows of the community.

“Young at heart and, at times, stubborn as a mule,” said Christine Krechkel, Landerhaven’s Director of Marketing, Advertising and Digital Development, of her boss. But it’s clear the 80-year-old holds the loyalty and affection of his employees as well as his clients, who return repeatedly for life cycle events.

“Cleveland is a wonderful city, and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “It’s the people, the diversity. We have everything here, and I’m thrilled to share so much with the community.”

On the business: “It’s been my life, but it’s also been the life of many people in my organization. And this business is being designed to go on. There’s management and financing in place to see that this company exists long after I’m gone. Am I going to retire? Yeah, when I die.”

Asked if he was slowing down, Harlan leaned in and said with a smile, “I want you to know, I’m taking off Sundays now. So I’m only working six days a week. Don’t tell anybody.”

When Harlan is there quietly greeting guests (“I’m a shy guy”), there’s likely a giant Irish Wolfhound by his side. Listed as Harlan’s “son” and “Landerhaven Ambassador” on Facebook, six-year-old Conner is number four of a succession of handsome hounds, and a crowd favorite.

While Landerhaven hosts numerous charity events, there is one fundraiser that is very much Harlan’s own: Philanthropia.

After 9/11, Harlan noticed that charities—particularly small, 501(c)3 non-profits with little fundraising muscle — were suffering large drops in donations. Determined to change a negative into a positive, and, according to Christine, “always looking out for the underdog,” Harlan refocused a regular business leaders’ luncheon into a December gala. The twist: participating organizations retained all ticket fees for their tables, while Harlan picked up the food and beverage tab for nearly 1000 guests. Since then, Philantropia has raised nearly $1.4 million for area non-profits. Save the date: the next Philantropia will be held on December 8, 2014.

Harlan Diamond: A mensch. A gentleman. A gem.

 

 

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