For more than six years, John Moore and his restaurant, the , have been fixtures in the Charlestown Navy Yard. And through his work in the community, Moore has served more than great victuals.
Last September, Moore was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. His illness made Moore realize just how significant he was in the community of Charlestown -- and how important the community was to him. In the months since, he’s been amazed by how the people in the neighborhood have rallied around him in his time of need with countless visits and gifts.
“This is a real community. It means everything to me. The only reason I am successful is because of this community, and that’s why I have always enjoyed giving back when I can.”
The road ahead
During his time spent recuperating at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the staff marveled at Moore’s popularity, remarking that they had never seen someone receive so many visitors. “Having so many people around helped me to not think so much about the pain I was in. It really helped to take my mind off it,” he said.
He has been getting back to his routine for the last month, including working at the restaurant when he can. However, he has only been there intermittently during normal restaurant hours because it is difficult for him to move around with his walker when the restaurant is busy.
Moore knows that he still has a long road ahead of him, but ultimately remains positive about the long-term and is as determined as ever. He is currently undergoing intensive rehabilitation at Spaulding on an outpatient basis twice a week and does two additional days of rehab at Journey Forward, a spinal cord and Guillain-Barré rehabilitation center in Canton. He hopes to be walking without assistance by late April or early May.
When asked if the illness has changed his outlook on life and if it had changed him as a person, Moore said that it had provided him with more focus and purpose. He plans to make sure to spend more time with his family and do the things he truly enjoys, including “going to more hockey games.”
Looking to the future, Moore has a lot on his plate. He plans on starting the Nerves of Steel Foundation to benefit Spaulding Rehab, inspired by a blue Lance-Armstrong-Livestrong-type bracelet that he received from a friend. Its first golf tournament fundraiser is already planned for some time in September. As if that’s not enough, he is thinking about opening another restaurant in the Navy Yard – possibly a coastal Italian restaurant.
Moore says that he also plans to make time to visit patients at Spaulding, especially those afflicted with Guillain-Barré. Because it’s such a rare disease, it can be very isolating for many people, Moore said. He has received cards from people around the U.S., which has provided him with comfort during this difficult time, and he wants to repay that kindness.
Moore has served in many roles outside of his restaurant, including as an overseer at the USS Constitution Museum. He’s also led fundraising events through the Young Friends of Old Ironsides Committee. He sits the board of directors for Friends of the Navy Yard, on the board of advisors for the Community Center for Entrepreneurship at Bunker Hill Community College and on the planning committee for Charlestown Boys & Girls Club Annual Patriots Game Day Fundraiser.
Because of his illness, Moore will need to cut back on his community work to some extent. He plans to focus mainly on fundraising for Harvest On the Vine food pantry at St. Mary-St. Catherine Church, fundraising for his Nerves of Steel Foundation, and working with a few other organizations.
In April, the food pantry will honor him for all his efforts at a fundraising event at the Knights of Columbus. And on Thursday, March 10, the Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard will be welcoming John home at their Winter Warm-up & Annual Meeting.
A big thanks
Overwhelmed by how Charlestown residents have rallied around him, Moore wanted to express his gratitude: “Thank you to everyone in the community for being so supportive and helping to keep my restaurant afloat even though I wasn’t able to be here. People laughed at me when I first decided to open my restaurant here, but I knew it would work. I tell people that I am the luckiest restaurateur in the city because this is the best community.”
For more information about John Moore and the Navy Yard Bistro and Wine Bar, visit: http://navyyardbistro.com.