At Alpio Barbara’s event venue, Alpio’s at Troon, a $2 tip turned into a $40,000 check for charity.
Northern Scottsdale resident Barbara and Sue Pille of Platinum Companies presented a $40,000 check to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation/Golf-Fore-Charity at Barbara’s Cars and Coffee event at Alpio’s at Troon.
“It’s no secret that Alpio has a passion for cars, people and helping kids. We’re honored to be a part of this great event,” said David Reese, co-chair of Golf-Fore-Charity 2020.
The tips were collected at Cars and Coffee, a monthly event that started in Nov. 2017.
At Cars and Coffee, car enthusiasts roam around the Alpio’s at Troon parking lot, take a look at the high-performance, classic and collector cars brought in by people from all over the Valley, sip coffee and mingle.
Attendees are also welcome to check out the Alpio’s at Troon Event Center, where Barbara keeps about eight of his own classic cars, motorcycles and other memorabilia, like vintage gas pumps, large-scale models of military aircraft acquired from private collections and more.
“I’ve seen other Cars and Coffee in the Valley and I figured, let’s try one up here, up North,” Barbara said.
Cars and Coffee started with 20 to 30 cars, and this month, it grew to 160.
“That’s max; that’s as many we can really put in that parking lot,” Barbara said.
On average, 300 to 400 people attend the monthly event.
“It’s a fun thing. People will come and no matter what you drive, they’re car enthusiasts. It’s a lot of camaraderie over a cup of coffee and doughnut holes. No car show. There’s no entry fee. There are no plaques. You just show up, have a cup of coffee and a doughnut, walk around and talk to everybody,” Barbara said.
At the Cars and Coffee June 2017 event, a gentleman wanted to leave a tip for the free coffee provided by Platinum Companies.
Barbara assured him he didn’t have to leave a tip, but he did anyway, prompting Barbara to place a tip jar for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) at the Alpio’s at Troon coffee counter.
Barbara and House of Hardtops have matched the tips every month since.
Additional donations are raised by the North Scottsdale Coffee Group charging a nominal fee to go on group rides around Arizona.
Last year, Barbara donated $7,777 to PCH; this year, that number more than quintupled.
And for the month of November, specifically, Golf-Fore-Charity will match any donations collected up to $2,000.
“It all adds up,” Barbara said. “It’s not about me; it’s all about the kids.”
Giving back is second nature to Barbara, who came from humble beginnings.
“My mom and dad immigrated from Europe. Our family is seven, my mom and dad, and we slept in a single two-bedroom home. I’ve seen how some of these kids struggle and families struggle,” Barbara said. “Sometimes we take things for granted and I’ve never taken things for granted and anytime I can help I help.”
But Barbara isn’t the only one quick to help; his friends were also by his side following Barbara’s life-threatening motorcycle accident in April 2018.
“I’m still recovering,” he said. “It’s going to take me another two years of physical therapy.”
Barbara was riding down Carefree Highway when he was sideswiped by another vehicle.
“He made a left and didn’t see me and plowed me into the road. Thank God I had a helmet on and saved my life,” he said.
The accident left Barbara with four broken ribs and a broken back. He now has a fuse his in his neck, a fused back, a new shoulder and a new hip.
The weekend of the accident, Barbara had a Cars and Coffee event to host. So, his friends stepped in.
“To this moment I’m talking to you right now, I don’t know how they pulled it off. I don’t remember the accident an hour before and I don’t remember three days after, but somehow they pulled it off,” Barbara said.
Barbara also credits Pille for being the “backbone” of the event.
“Sue was very instrumental,” he said. “And we’ve got a couple of good people that are behind it that make the coffee and what have you.”
Barbara’s passion for cars started in college, in 1968, while working at a tire store.
“I put on tires and we didn’t know the “Bullitt” car was for Steve McQueen,” he said. “We put the tires on and about a week later my boss said, ‘Put some wheels and tires on that Mustang,’ and I said, ‘Didn’t I just do that last week?’
“He goes, ‘Yeah, the guy wrecked it.’ And I said, ‘Oh my God, what an idiot. We didn’t know it was Steve McQueen because we were doing it for another shop.”
They found out six to eight months later that it was McQueen’s car.
Barbara would go on to own and operate Redwood General Tire in Redwood City, Calif.
He was also awarded Tire Dealer of the year by Modern Tire Dealer Magazine in 2016.
“My brother was a mechanic and then, of course, I started out as a mechanic and I just love cars. It’s just an amazing thing. And now that I could afford the cars that I worked on way back when, you know, like I just have them, so I’m very fortunate. Very blessed,” Barbara said.
Currently, Barbara owns 23 muscle cars from the ‘50s through ‘80s, including Ferraris, Porsches, and a ‘54 Corvette.
He opened Alpio’s at Troon in April 2016, not originally as an event center, but as a man cave where he could store and display his cars and motorcycles.
But as more people asked to have events in the 1950s style diner-designed space, he eventually opened it to the public to rent.
“I said, ‘What the hell?’ I might as well cover my life bill,’” he said with a laugh.
Now, the nearly 5,000-square-foot space is rented out about three times per month for events, including weddings, birthdays, holiday events, and more.
Cars and Coffee runs from 7 to 10 a.m. the second Saturday every month.