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While most restaurants in America are shuttered, White House Italian Steak House in Anaheim, California, is hammered. Twice a week, cars line up by the hundreds, turning the fine dining experience into the ambiance of a Nascar pit stop. Owner Bruno Serato knows that most guests of this popup, bi-weekly drive through can pay no more than a heartfelt “thank you”. And that’s just fine by him.
Bruno and his team are catering to the growing legions of the desperate. It’s a mission for which he is very well suited. He bought the mansion-turned-restaurant in 1987, and started serving Northern Italian cuisine in the style of his home in Verona, Italy.
The restaurant gained popularity, and became a destination spot for special events like charity galas and weddings. In 2005, Bruno and his mother, Caterina, visited the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim down the street from his restaurant. Mamma Caterina noticed a 6-year old boy eating potato chips for dinner, because his family couldn’t afford a proper meal. She insisted that Bruno make some pasta for the child. They launched a nonprofit called “Caterina’s Club”, and began making pasta for 72 children, 5 nights a week. The next year, Barilla Group, the world’s leading pasta maker, donated 10,000 pounds of pasta to support the cause. In addition to warm meals, Caterina’s Club helps provide affordable housing assistance and job training to homeless and low-income families throughout Southern California.
When the White House restaurant was gutted by a fire in 2017, the community sprang into action. Bruno was given special permission from officials at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove to use their commercial kitchen so that Caterina’s Club could operate while Bruno re-built his restaurant.
Bruno’s philanthropy has been recognized worldwide. He has received a CNN Hero award, a blessing from Pope Francis, he was knighted by the Italian government, and featured in publications and on TV programs around the world.
This month, with the help of volunteers and sponsors, Bruno will donate nearly 300,000 meals. If you have enough to share, you can help by donating here to help Bruno spread his “Viva la Pasta!” goodwill to families in need.