Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Quatro’s: Community comes together for Blake Morrison memorial

Former+Carbondale+city+councilman+Lee+Fronabarger+observes+the+memorial+for+Blake+Morrison+which+consists+of+flowers%2C+drawings+and+several+pictures+of+different+moments+from+his+life+Sept.+23%2C+2023+at+the+former+Jerry%E2%80%99s+Flower+Boutique+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.
Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto
Former Carbondale city councilman Lee Fronabarger observes the memorial for Blake Morrison which consists of flowers, drawings and several pictures of different moments from his life Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois.

Photos from decades gone by adorning a tri-fold poster board; sharpies of all colors lying next to signs with a rainbow of memories; art along the walls and on the counters paying tribute by choice or by fate; a notebook granting the chance to write a parting message; family, friends and community members scattered across the room, sharing stories of a lost loved one.

Blake Morrison, owner of the beloved restaurant Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza in Carbondale, passed away, the restaurant announced on its Facebook page on Sept. 21. He was 31 years old.

An interactive memorial mural was hosted on Friday and Saturday afternoon at what was formerly Jerry’s Flower Shoppe, next door to the southern Illinois mainstay. Morrison had planned to open up a merchandise store at that location in the coming months.

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The memorial for Quatro’s owner Blake Morrison is hosted in the former flower shop next door to the Carbondale staple restaurant Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois. The event was put together by students at SIU’s Ad Lab who assisted Morrison in the Quatro’s Marketing. (Lylee Gibbs |@lyleegibbsphoto)

His sister Jocelyn Morrison, who had spent the summer preparing the store for business, said the family wanted to have a space separate from the restaurant for people to show their support.

But as Quatro’s continues to remain open, she said they welcome visitors there as well.

“We would love to have people come and support the restaurant while we’re going through hard times, because life goes on, business goes on,” she said.

Morrison’s family intends to continue the plans put forth by Blake Morrison before his passing. That includes getting the merchandise store open in the near future.

“We’re getting close to finishing this space, and we are going to be continuing to move forward with everything that he wanted for this space,” Jocelyn Morrison said.

The store may not have been open yet, but it was showing signs of progress. Most obvious visually was the yellow-painted walls, which Jocelyn Morrison described as “like a vintage Quatro’s,” as was Blake Morrison’s vision.

Immediately to the right of the entrance of the store is a mural by a local artist that goes by the monomym Keri. It features two angel wings made out of pizza slices, and a Q-shaped halo. It also features elements related to a solar eclipse, which Carbondale will in the path of in April 2024 for the second time in seven years.

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Jocelyn Morrison, sister to Quatro’s owner Blake Morrison, stands in front of the mural she and her brother had come up with just before his passing Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois. “I thought it would be a good idea to have pizza wings, just to have like a cute photo spot when people come,” Morrison said. “(…) I didn’t know it would turn into something that’s memorializing him.” (Lylee Gibbs |@lyleegibbsphoto)

With the eclipse theme in mind, Jocelyn Morrison said the goal is to have the store ready to go by the time that event comes around next spring.

“We would love to have something that is open and ready for people who are coming through to see the eclipse,” she said. “That’s the date that I think we would like to have it done by.”

The timing of the mural’s completion almost exactly coincided with Blake Morrison’s passing, having been finished just this month. What had started out as a concept that Jocelyn Morrison pushed for became a spot to memorialize the 31-year-old in one of its first public uses.

“It’s a beautiful piece of art,” Jocelyn Morrison said. “Keri did an amazing job… He [Blake] probably would think it’s a little ‘cheesy’… I think he would have loved it, and I think he would be happy with how it turned out.”

Jocelyn Morrison, along with other members of the Morrison family, could be found for most of the afternoon at one of two counters in the small but relatively open front area of the store. They shared memories and stories with visitors, who would leave their own in exchange.

Quatro’s employees Aliyah Bendix (left) and Liz Forassiepi (right) sign a poster dedicated to Quatro’s family in remembrance of owner Blake Morrison at the interactive memorial Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois.
(Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto)

“It’s really amazing to hear everybody’s stories, and to see how much he’s done for the community in continuing the Quatro’s legacy,” Jocelyn Morrison said. “And that’s really what he wanted to do.”

On Saturday, Saluki AdLab illustrator Blake Selsor presented Morrison’s family with a few illustrations: a large portrait featuring Blake Morrison and Q-Man posing in front of the restaurant, and a small framed photo of SIU mascot Grey Dawg comforting Quatro’s mascot Q-Man.

Selsor has been drawing the Q-Man character for the restaurant’s promotional material since last fall, when he was asked to make a Halloween-themed illustration of the character. He said he was inspired by the iconic Quatro’s plastic cups, which feature Q-Man’s head and hands holding a sign with the restaurant’s name.

“That ended up being popular enough that they had me keep doing more illustrations,” Selsor said.

Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza has also worked with Saluki AdLab for its social media content, including its Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts.

Jada Plummer, the operations manager for AdLab, discussed the importance of Morrison working with his former school. Morrison graduated from SIU with a degree in business management in 2017.

“He told me that since he was an alumni, that’s why he kept the connection when he bought Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza, because he liked the idea of giving back,” Plummer said. “The short amount of time that I’ve been on the Quatro’s account, Blake has always been available to answer any questions. He’s always been there to support us.”

Plummer, who had listed the Quatro’s account as her favorite project on the AdLab website, described what a memorial drawing from Selsor would mean to Morrison.

“Blake Morrison was very fond of Blake Selsor’s work, so we thought a great tribute to Blake Morrison would be to have Blake Selsor make an illustration of him with Q-Man,” Plummer said.

Flowers and drawings are placed in the memorial for Blake Morrison as the community stops by to support Morrison’s family Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois. (Lylee Gibbs | @lyleegibbsphoto)

That illustration was created by tracing a real photo of Blake Morrison standing with a friend, and replacing them with the Q-Man character.

Selsor also gifted a second illustration to the Morrison family. It portrayed Saluki mascot Grey Dawg comforting Q-Man, a tribute to Morrison’s SIU roots.

A drawing of SIU’s Grey Dawg consoling Quatro’s mascot Q-Man is illustrated by AdLab student Blake Selsor for the family of Blake Morrison Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois. (Lylee Gibbs |@lyleegibbsphoto)

The smaller framed drawing was inspired by a famous piece drawn by Disney artists after Muppets creator Jim Henson’s passing in 1990, featuring Mickey Mouse comforting Kermit the Frog in a similar fashion.

“I used that as reference to do a similar photo, but instead of Mickey consoling Kermit, it’s the Saluki Grey Dawg consoling the Quatro-Man,” Selsor said.

For the rest of the afternoon, that photo stood on the same counter where visitors would come by and leave a note; whether it be a memory, a story or simply a farewell message.

Former Carbondale city councilman Lee Fronabarger was one of the first people to arrive when Saturday’s session of the event began at 3 p.m. His note: “Gone too soon my friend, gone too soon. Your spirit will live on in Quatro’s.”

Former Carbondale city councilman Lee Fronabarger leaves a message in a book at the interactive memorial for Blake Morrison Sept. 23, 2023 at the former Jerry’s Flower Boutique in Carbondale, Illinois. (Lylee Gibbs |@lyleegibbsphoto)

Fronabarger served two separate stints on the city council from 2011-2017 and 2019-2023, and has been eating at Quatro’s for more than 35 years. Having interacted with Morrison as both a visitor of the restaurant and as a councilman, Fronabarger saw the impact Morrison’s presence had on the city of Carbondale.

“He had so much potential, and you could just see the light in his eye once he took over Quatro’s,” Fronabarger said. “He was so happy to be the owner of Quatro’s finally after working here.”

The former councilman also described Morrison as a big Saluki fan. In fact, both Fronabarger and Morrison were together in line for a Jeremy Chinn bobblehead giveaway at the Sept. 2 home opener for Saluki football.

“He was a good Carbondale citizen,” Fronabarger said. “We’re certainly going to miss him.

Along with leaving a note for the family, Fronabarger spent some time looking over a tri-fold display featuring photos of Morrison through all stages of life, from baby photos to graduation day and everywhere in between.

“It feels great to see all the pictures,” Fronabarger said. “I didn’t know a whole lot about his family and younger years, so it’s nice to see the photos of his life there.”

Both the Morrison family and Quatro’s have received an outpouring of support in the days following Blake Morrison’s passing. During a difficult time, the positivity that has come from moments like these, events like these, is invaluable in what will certainly be an emotional journey onward.

“It’s been overwhelming, in a good and bad way,” Jocelyn Morrison said. “It’s been good seeing just how many people he’s touched and been connected to.”

News editor Brandyn Wilcoxen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrandynWilcoxen. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Tammy WooleySep 25, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    He was a good guy got to know him while at Chili’s my Condolences goes out to his family and friends

    Reply