Carelli’s removes iconic dollar bills for donation to MCHS music department |

Carelli’s removes iconic dollar bills for donation to MCHS music department

Carelli's owners and Moffat County High School students gather around a check for $1,500 the restaurant is donating to the high school music department on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Front, from left, Liah Arnold, Anthony Teeter, Cynae Montoya, junior, Zoey Cochran, senior, Genesis Vallalovos, junior, Kim Teeter, and Grace Alberico. Back, from left, Garrett Mercer, senior, Tristan Malvitz, senior, Athan Smith, senior, and Paityn Cox, senior.
Amber Delay O’Connor/Craig Press

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the timeframe for the new restaurant ownership and an in-kind donation.

For years, one of the signature aesthetics of Carelli’s Italian Restaurant was the hundreds of dollar bills decorating the walls and ceiling. This week, all the bills were removed — $750 in total — by the new owners in order to make a donation to the Moffat County High School music program. 

Anthony and Kim Teeter, the new owners of Carelli’s in Craig, took over ownership of the downtown restaurant in December with the hopes of continuing the atmosphere Carelli’s is known for and adding some fresh takes. 

Anthony said it took weeks to take the bills down, and several people pitched in. Once they were all recovered, the Teeters doubled the donation with a match. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, several students and teachers from the MCHS music department gathered at Carelli’s to accept the $1,500 donation to the band, choir and drama department. 

Anthony, who went to a performing arts high school, also spent time working as a professional actor for stage plays as well as television in his years before moving to Craig. When Anthony first moved to Craig, he subbed for the high school music classes and met some of the students. 

“That’s why we are doing this, it’s been good to give back and try to do more local stuff,” Anthony said. 

The tradition of pinning dollars to the walls and ceiling was started by former Carelli’s owners, Jenny and Jim Diehl, with the hope of raising money for a college fund for their daughter, who was into music. The Diehl’s sold Carelli’s in 2011, and the dollars stayed in place and got passed down to the next set of owners. 

Brett Etzler, who took over ownership of Carelli’s in 2011 from Jim and Jenny Diehl, works with some dough with dollar bills pinned to the ceiling in the background. New owners Anthony and Kim Teeter recently took down the bills and donated them, along with a $750 match, to the Moffat County High School music program.
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The $1,500 donation will be split between the different music programs, and the bills’ absence will allow the Teeters to give the front room of Carelli’s a fresh coat of paint.

Second year MCHS band teacher Liah Arnold said the donation will be used to purchase and repair instruments, and to buy music. The high school concert band will host its next performance in May. In the meantime, smaller performance bands will perform in other productions. 

Grace Alberico, the MCHS choir and drama teacher, said their portion of the funding will be used to buy music and support festival entrance fees. The next festival the choir is planning to attend is in Rifle, hosted by CHSAA, where performers are rated and critiqued by a judge. 

Anthony said that he’s purchased new pots and pans for both the kitchen at Carelli’s, as well as new pots and pans he plans to donate to the high school culinary class.

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