Local restaurant feeding hungry kids for free

Evan Brandt [email protected] @PottstownNews on Twitter  

POTTSTOWN — Rocky Citrino was listening to the news about coronavirus on the way one day and heard someone exclaim that when schools are closed, there are lots of children who won't get fed.

When he got home, he told his wife Jillian and the two quickly decided to do something about it. What they did was pretty simple — and awfully generous.

The couple has owned Little Italy and The Pourhouse Tavern, both located in the same building at 636 E. High St., for 16 years.

"We worked with our food distributor, U.S. Foods, our salesman there is great, and told him what we wanted to do and he said 'absolutely. Let's see what we can do,'" Rocky Citrino said.

With reduced costs to food, the folks at Little Italy put together bagged lunches with a snack, a fruit or vegetable and drink and, as kids come to the front door, they add a hot item.

"They're sometimes disappointed that it's not pizza. Sometimes it's pizza," Jillian Citrino said with a laugh. "Sometimes it's a hot sandwich like hot ham and cheese, or a grilled cheese."

They're giving away about 150 lunches a day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

But they're not doing it alone.

"We got a pretty nice donation from the Pottstown Police Officers Association," said Rocky Citrino.

"And people are just started coming in off the street to make donations after word got out," he said. "I'm really happy about how the community is coming together."

As if on cue, a man walked into the restaurant and handed Jillian Citrino a $100 bill.

He refused to be photographed for the newspaper or give his name. "I just want to help," he said and walked out.

"There are a lot of legit good people out there. It makes me proud to be an American," he said.

"It makes me Pottstown proud," his wife added.

In the meantime, with only take-out or curbside customers, and the Pourhouse tavern portion of the business closed, the Citrinos are making use of the time.

"We're doing a deep clean and we're going to paint in here," said Rocky Citrino. "This way, we can keep paying the bartenders, who aren't getting any tips. And it's something we've been wanting to do anyway."

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