Richmond restaurant owner opens doors to homeless on Thanksgiving

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- One of Richmond's finest restaurants opened its doors to the homeless on Thanksgiving, providing them with a fine meal and all the service that comes with it.

This was an experience, not just a meal. And it was one designed to fill those who received it with love along with the good food. That's because this holiday meal for the homeless was delivered by someone who's been there herself.

READ MORE: Ohio pizzeria offers food for those in need on Thanksgiving

Menbe Aklilu is the owner of Salute e Vita Ristorante. Twenty years ago she was homeless on the streets of Italy, pregnant with her son.

"These people, I mean, a lot of them they've never been in a restaurant," said Akilu. "They've never been served. So I said it's the right thing to do and it's the right day to give back."

When Akilu came to America 20 years ago, her first job was as a hostess at this very restaurant. Six years later, she was able to buy it. She's been giving back to the community ever since and it's most appreciated.

"It's beautiful," said diner Tracey Wilcoxen. "I love places like this, it's beautiful."

Besides the food, there were coats, gift bags, and flu shots for those who need them.

Salute will serve 1,300 people this Thanksgiving; people who might otherwise go without or be alone on a holiday that's all about being together.

"This is a great day with a beautiful view," said diner Jacob Lorenz. "I wish my family could be here. But you know, I'm sitting with my other family."

Fellow diner Larry Reynolds added, "It just makes me feel good to be able to be around a lot of people just enjoying the holiday."

Akilu wouldn't have it any other way.
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