White House Restaurant Devastated By Fire

ANAHEIM (CNS) - Local venues have offered their banquet facilities and  kitchens and a GoFundMe account was set up to help an Anaheim restaurant owner  who feeds needy children and whose landmark eatery was extensively damaged by  fire today.

``Can't stop crying. We lost the Anaheim White House restaurant from a  fire during the night. No one was hurt. I am devastated,'' Anaheim White House  owner Bruno Serato posted on Facebook.

Heavy flames and smoke were seen coming from the restaurant, located at  887 S. Anaheim Blvd., prompting about 40 firefighters from Anaheim, Orange and  Garden Grove to join the fight.

The blaze was reported at 4:18 a.m. and primary knockdown was achieved  at 4:50 a.m., though firefighters remained on scene to work on hot spots, said  Daron Wyatt, public information officer for the Anaheim Fire Department.

Wyatt said there is extensive damage to the structure and its contents  but an estimate has yet to be tabulated.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Serato has fed hundreds of thousands of meals to underprivileged  children who live in Orange County and Long Beach motels in the past dozen  years, publicist Frank Groff said.

Serato also started programs to help families get into permanent homes  and to train youth for careers in the hospitality industry, Groff said.

``A GoFundMe page has been created to help him rebuild the restaurant,  keep his charitable work going and restore his dream,'' Groff said. ``With  enough funds, he plans to help his staff who are now unemployed.''

 The page is at www.gofundme.com/AnaheimWhiteHouse, he said.

Local venues have also stepped forward to help, Groff said. Pearl East,  an outdoor mall in Rowland Heights and Event 39 Center in Anaheim have offered  their facilities to accommodate banquets scheduled at the White House and their  kitchens to prepare meals for children.

The cause of the blaze was still unknown, but Groff said work crews were  installing carpet upstairs in the restaurant until 3 a.m.

The restaurant started out as a home, built by Dosithe Gervais in 1909,  according to the company's website.

Mr. and Mrs. George Waterman purchased the home in 1916; but soon after,  the home was sold to the Truxaw family, who would call the mansion their home  for 50 years

In 1978, Mrs. Anthony Bouch purchased the home with designs to open an  antique store. After making $100,000 in renovations, however, her health failed  and she was unable to fulfill her dream, according to the website.

Jim and Barbara Stovall purchased the home in 1981, planning to build  condominiums in its place, even hiring an architect to help with the design.

But on the eve of the scheduled demolition, Stovall told her husband  that she couldn't bear the thought of the home being destroyed. New plans were  then drawn up, almost immediately, for the restoration of the home as ``The  White House Restaurant,' which opened on New Year's Eve of 1981.

 Serato is an Italian immigrant who came to the United States with $50 in  his pocket and saved the money to open his restaurant 30 years ago, Groff  said. He is known worldwide for his charity work and ``he even mortgaged his  own home during the recession to keep his charity work going.''

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