ST. PAUL, Minn. -- At his kitchen table, Clay Ahrens makes his dinner plans.
"Waldmann, Butcher and the Boar, the Lexington," said Ahrens.
That's just three of Clay's 25 favorite local restaurants in the Twin Cities, and they're all on coasters, serving as gift cards, all in one tin.
"Ah, they thought I was crazy," said Ahrens.
Clay first heard about "City Tins" in Madison and wondered - why isn't that here in Minnesota? So, he emailed the two owners - Christin Ladky and Tara Laatsch, who he'd never met - saying, he'd volunteer to recruit restaurants.
"We were shocked when we got his email and we thought, well, we've already given this a shot and tried this before," said Laatsch. "He's really very sure of himself that he can do this."
Clay's first stop was at The Finnish Bistro in St. Paul. He sold "City Tins" well because they loved the idea. And, then he came to Eli's East in Minneapolis and they were in, too.
Then, for the next two months, Clay traveled around the Twin Cities, meeting with different owners, and found 23 other restaurants.
"It's hard to turn away someone with a walker, so I think that didn't hurt," said Ahrens. "The effort always happened around my sweet spot in the day when I have the most energy."
Over the past five years, Clay's speech has slowed and so has his body, all symptoms of ALS, a progressive nervous system disease - without a cure - that causes disability and then death.
"Minnesota winters are long, especially for someone who struggles getting around, so I thought what a perfect project to keep me busy, but not too busy," said Ahrens.
But, Clay finds purpose every day, like setting up "City Tins" to support local restaurants. For his work, "City Tins" donated $5-thousand dollars to the ALS Association, with a portion of online purchases going there, too.
"They are what keeps me motivated to help raise money for research and hopefully finding a cure," said Ahrens.
So, make dinner plans because this one's on Clay.
"City Tins" Twin Cities features 25 coaster gift cards to 25 iconic eateries in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each coaster is worth $10 off your tab at these restaurants, a $250 value. If you buy online, $10 of your purchase can be donated to the ALS Association.
To learn more or to purchase, click here.