NewsPositively Hampton Roads


California restaurant owner who was once homeless offers free Christmas meal to those in need

Posted at 10:50 AM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 10:50:15-05

ROSEVILLE, Calif. - For many, Christmas is about tradition, family, food and presents. But some in our community don't have those thing.

On Christmas, one Roseville restaurant provided a warm meal for those in need.

It's an amazing gesture spending Christmas giving to others. But the chef and owner of The Place in Roseville donated his time and food because he knows what it's like to be down on your luck.

While most businesses were closed on Christmas, The Place in Roseville was open to anyone in need, FOX 40 reported.

"I live on the side of the creek," said Michael Donn Frost, who was getting a meal at the restaurant.

"I've been homeless -- more than once. I almost died last time," said Rob Laffoday.

Most who came to get a free meal were homeless, hungry or fighting for a second chance in life.

"I spent the last 18 years, 20 years in prison," said William Aaron Brehmer Jr.

"No family, no food, no friends, depression, no where to go, definitely had no where to go," said Sylvia Jescer.

"My biggest challenge is my past," Frost said.

The meal was spaghetti and meatballs. And the generosity meant a lot.

"There's all kinds of people out there who need someone to say 'hey I care,'" Laffoday said.

"Doesn't have anybody -- I don't have anybody either," Lap Au said.

"I know what it's like," said Michael McDermott, owner of The Place.

McDermott understands the struggle because he lived it.

"I was a troubled teen. I was living on the streets. I kept making the same mistakes," he said.

He moved to California with nothing. But he now owns a successful business. He wants others to know there's hope.

"It's still a good world. There's still good people out there," McDermott said.

Some even tried to pay him back with whatever they had.

"We just had someone leave us a $2 bill, a tip. They came in here because they can't afford to eat on Christmas and they left us a tip. How amazing of a person, you know," McDermott said.

It's incredible how far a small gesture and a simple meal can go.

"This is beautiful. Yeah, this is sweet," said Brehemer.

The restaurant says about 70 people showed up for a Christmas meal on Sunday. Many of them came from a local homeless shelter, The Gathering Inn.