St. Anthony dining room serves its last meals

February 1, 2012 8:52:46 PM PST
Saint Anthony's Dining Room has served the hungry in San Francisco for more than 60 years. Now, it's about to undergo the biggest change in its history. It's a joyous occasion, but one also marked by some sadness.

Local legend has it the kitchen at Saint Anthony's Dining Room was modeled after the galley of a submarine. In the cramped basement, volunteers standing shoulder to shoulder serve about 3,000 meals every day.

"I was homeless on the street, somebody told me about it, I came here and I'm doing OK now, but I come here because I like the friends, like the people here," Saint Anthony's guest Jerry Heuman said.

People have always been the focus of Saint Anthony's -- founded more than 60 years ago by a Franciscan friar with a vision.

"From the very start, he called it a dining room, he wanted everybody who came to eat to be called a guest," Saint Anthony's Executive Director Shari Roeseler said. "It is a place that folks have come not just for a meal but really for hope and for the possibility of starting anew."

It's fitting then, that Saint Anthony's itself is about to be reborn.

"I'm going to miss these walls; this place has been everything for a lot of people for a long time," Saint Anthony's guest Kathy Mills said.

But the guests here won't have too far to go for a hot meal. Saint Anthony's is moving across the street for two years, while they build a new dining room on the original spot with more room.

The new, brighter room will sit in a brand new building, with senior housing above it.