Joel Iral's Celebration of Life

Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q to Host Celebration of Life for Past Employee

DESTIN, Fla. (April 15, 2019) – Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Silver Shells Resort and Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q invite the community, loyal patrons and guests to a celebration of life fundraiser for Joel Iral, a long-time employee of both restaurants who was killed in a vehicle involved scooter accident on Thursday, March 27, 2019. Ruth’s Chris Steak House will host the event in their Courtyard Bar & Terrace on Tuesday, May 14, from 6- 9 p.m.

Originally from the Philippines, Iral has worked for Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q for the past ten years and was also the first employee when they opened their Destin location in 2009. He also worked at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the evenings. Iral is survived by five children, his wife, two brothers, mother, and father all of which live in the Philippines. He also had a sister and her family in England. Iral worked two jobs in order to support not only himself, but all of his family members back in his home country.

One hundred percent of the money donated and raised through the live and silent auctions at the Celebration of Life will be used to bring Iral’s body back to the Philippines and to help pay for his children’s college education, something he dedicated his life to doing. At the time of his death, two of his children were currently enrolled in college while the other three had already graduated. 

“He never asked for much and was always willing to give back and help others,” said Rich Rylke, owner of Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q Destin. Iral is fondly remembered for his friendly nature, warm smile and authentic Filipino cooking, something he made for the Ruth’s Chris staff when they had ‘family meals’ every Thursday night before service. He was also named as the employee of the month at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in 2018, but instead of using the awarded gift certificate for himself, he gave it to a friend who had never eaten at the restaurant. This is just one example of Iral’s giving spirit and compassionate nature.

 “You would never find him without a smile on his face and he just had a really good soul - something that is hard to come by these days,” said Mike Sable, Ruth’s Chris’ General Manager. “He will certainly be missed by the friends, staff, and customers alike.”

The Joel Iral Celebration of Life Fundraiser is free to attend and open to the public. Guests are invited to stop by and enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres by both Ruth’s Chris and Jim ‘N Nick’s, a silent auction, live music by Michael J Thomas, and participate in a live auction conducted by Luxury Estates Auction Company. Donations will be accepted throughout the night as well. For those who cannot attend, a GoFundMe account has been created and donations can be made at Donations may also be dropped off at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Destin, located at 15000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, or across the street at Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q, located at 14073 Emerald Coast Pkwy.

For area businesses interested in donating an auction item, please contact Jessica Bracken at (850) 460-7777 or


About Ruth’s Chris Steak House

It all started in 1965 when Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home to buy a little steak house in New Orleans called Chris Steak House. As the reputation grew, Ruth expanded and added her name to the original. That’s how the uniquely named Ruth’s Chris Steak House was born. Today, this fine dining restaurant features expertly executed seafood, New Orleans inspired appetizers, unforgettable desserts and the freshest prime steaks, served to perfection on a sizzling plate. Centrally located in Destin, Florida, the restaurant is open seven days a week, offering dinner at 5 p.m. and Happy Hour daily 5-7 p.m.  To make a reservation call 850-837- RUTH (7884). For more information, visit or find Ruth’s Chris Steak House Destin, FL on Facebook.

About Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q

Jim ‘N Nick’s style of bar-b-q is a labor of love developed by Jim Pihakis and his son Nick Pihakis and was then passed on to local owners across the country. The brand’s first unit was opened in Birmingham, AL in 1985. Today there are 40 Jim ‘N Nick’s locations (and growing) in Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina, making Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, one of the South’s most well-respected restaurant groups. After more than 34 years, the company’s commitment to traditional recipes, scratch-made integrity without shortcuts, freezers or microwaves, showcasing genuine community service, and a deep respect and appreciation for their customers, has set them apart from the rest. The company is passionate about community involvement and partners with numerous national and local non-profits such as Children in Crisis, Jones Valley Teaching Farm, the Southern Foodways Alliance, Seaside Neighborhood School, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, Shelter House Domestic Violence Center of Okaloosa/Walton County and numerous others who share in the spirit of caring for the community. That spirit of community is a key element of what guides the business philosophy and fuels the fire in the pits every day at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q. For local store hours and menus, please visit and follow @jimnnicksbbq on Twitter and Instagram.

Donations (0)

  • Denise Song 
    • $75 
    • 6 mos
  • Vicki Camp 
    • $100 
    • 6 mos
  • Stephen Johnson 
    • $40 
    • 6 mos
  • Steve Johnson 
    • $1,425 
    • 6 mos
  • James Matern 
    • $125 
    • 6 mos
See all

Fundraising team (4)

Jocelyn Reyes 
Destin, FL
Jazper Tafalla 
Diane Rosales-Tafalla 
Team member
Viel Bisda Iral 
Team member
This team raised $14,415 from 49 other donations.
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