Upscale Restaurant Owner Feeds Homeless Kids

**Updated 8/16/10

Since Steve's report last week, Bruno Serato has received $20,000 in donations. He also said that business at his restaurant has doubled.

Bruno Serato, owner of the White House Restaurant in Anaheim, admits he had a pretty carefree life - hosting and hobnobbing with Orange County's most rich and famous. Then his mother Caterina came over to visit from Italy and messed up everything.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports, that was his first mistake.

At the time, Bruno was on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club and he just thought his mom might like to see the place. The club serves a lot of homeless kids who sometimes go hungy. Bruno told his mom this - and according to club director Mike Baker - that was his second mistake.

"I heard her in Italian grab his arm and say some things and he just started raising his arms and said, 'Mama, mama, OK, OK, OK!'" Baker said.

So what did she say to her son? "Why don't you feed them pasta?"

On Caterina's orders, Bruno fed all of the kids that night.

Anaheim White House Restaurant
Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim

Bruno says it was a lot of food to just give away. But his mother wouldn't leave the kitchen until he did it. That was actually April 18, 2005 - and it's happened every day since.

Bruno has continued to serve the kids every weeknight for the past 5 years - that's nearly a quarter of a million, very nice meals.

"We have some of the poorest children in Anaheim eating from one of the most exclusive restaurants every single night," Baler said.

It has not gone unappreciated. The kids love the food.

"Did she give you a gift by making you do this?" Hartman asked.

"Oh yea, the biggest gift of my life," Bruno replied.

Bruno says the kids are now by far his favorite customers. He says he's never felt more needed. In the last few years, with the economy tanking, the number of meals he serves here has doubled from about 75 a night to 150.

Meanwhile, back at his restaurant, that same economy has had the opposite effect.

Baker said that Bruno's "business is not doing really well. I know that for a fact. I've walked into his restaurant when it's empty."

Bruno says he now gives away more meals than he sells -- which has had turned his balance sheet the color of marinara. He's had to refinance the restaurant and his house.

So how can he keep feeding these kids?

"How can I stop?" he said.

Bruno Serato, who didn't want to do that first dinner, now says he's in this until the very end.

"The day I stop to help is because I'm in heaven already. And I know I'm going to heaven. I'm going first class, caviar, no doubt!" he said.

If you live in Southern California and want to improve your chances of getting up there with him, you might want to consider going out for Italian some night soon. Bruno could sure use the business.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.