and he’s getting his customers in on the giving too

Restaurant owner Collin Doran is putting a lifelong lesson to work, everyday.

In fact, he’s putting the “break” in breakfast; or at least, he’s helping his lower-income customers catch one (so to speak).

Doran is the proud owner of Homemade Diner in Berkeley, California. When it comes to feeding his customers? He’s serving eggs and bacon with an unexpected side of kindness.

When he was growing up, the entrepreneur never forgot one simple lesson he learned from his grandfather — the importance of helping those in need.

“When I was 12, we were settings things up for Thanksgiving dinner and he told me, ‘Remember — you should never look down on anyone.'”

Well, twelve years and thousands of free breakfasts later, it’s safe to say, Collin Doran has definitely made his grandfather proud. In every free breakfast, his legacy lives on.

A “Problem” He Couldn’t Ignore

employees serving customers
Karl Mondon/ Bay Area News Group

It all started in 2011 when Collin Doran, 53, noticed the presence of homeless individuals outside his beloved diner, begging for spare change to buy food from people passing by.

Rather than turning them away or asking that they “leave his customers alone,” he decided to do something so much better.

In a heartwarming act, he came up with a simple (but not easy) solution.

He decided he would commit to giving a free two-egg breakfast with all the fixings to those in need — no questions asked.

All were welcomed into the Homemade Diner with open arms. No one was asked to share their story or prove why they were truly in need. No vetting process was necessary. Doran chose to follow blind faith and lead with love.

Over a decade later, his trust had paid off in spades.

“Instead of ushering people away, I told them, ‘If you’re hungry, let us know and we’ll feed you,’” said Doran. “Right away, people started taking me up on it.”

Twelve Years Later, the Pandemic Hit Hard

man standing outside of his restaurant
Charlotte Doran

It’s safe to say, Homemade Diner’s mission was alive and well but like so many other small businesses, the pandemic threatened to ruin all they had worked towards.

Doran shared that over the course of two years during the pandemic, he drained $200,000 out of his savings account. All to make sure his devoted employees could stay employed during lockdown!

It was clear when hard times hit, his generosity wasn’t just an act for when times were good — for richer or poorer, it was truly who he was.

When He Stepped Up His Community Stepped In

With his incredible initiative over the years, Doran didn’t just give back to the community, he also helped it grow.

After years of giving his support and hundreds and thousands of dollars, the community he help served for all those years — literally — had his back.

“My customers raised more than $30,000 for the restaurant through a GoFundMe I started last fall when we were struggling financially,” Doran shared with the Washington Post.

His Customers Chipped In — And It Changed Everything

announcements on a bulletin board
Charlotte Doran

For years, Doran had been keeping his free meal service alive and well on his own, but when the pandemic hit, it changed everyone’s hearts for the good.

Customers old and new decided they wanted to do their part.

Some customers donated upwards of $5 per meal to help fund “Everybody Eats” at Homemade Diner. One customer even made monthly donations of $100.

Everyone has value. We are all worth more than the change in our pocket.

“It became clear to me that the reason customers wanted to help was because they’d seen how we’d fed people in the community over the years,” Doran noted. “People didn’t want to lose that. It made sense to continue to provide them with a way to chip in.”

Collin Doran, Owner of Homemade Diner

Every penny counts and long after the pandemic, Homemade Diner is accepting donations big and small (or none at all)!

Since January, for every $5 donated by a customer, Doran has posted a “free meal” ticket on a bulletin board in his diner to be used by anyone who is hungry.

The donations cover the costs of “eggs any way,” served with potatoes, toast, and coffee.

“But on days when we run out of tickets, we keep serving free meals anyway,” Doran noted when it comes to bending the rules. “Nobody should go hungry. This is the right thing to do.”

Taking It One Step Further — He Offered One Homeless Customer a Job

restaurant owner serving a meal to a customer
KPix

Though Collin Doran has certainly touched many lives, there’s one customer in particular who is forever grateful for the small-time restauranteur’s kindness.

Daniel Amokye was a former unhoused person who benefitted from Homemade Diner’s free breakfast program.

Amokye heard about the amazing program from a friend and thought it was too good to be true. When he went to check it out for himself, he couldn’t believe his eyes…it was exactly as his friend promised.

The diner treated Amokye to his first hot meal in a long time and he returned several times that week to grab another hot meal — he was never turned away.

In fact, the exact opposite thing happened next. Instead of telling Amokye he had “come too many times,” they offered him to come back as many times as he wanted — only this time he’d be behind the counter instead of in front of it.

Doran didn’t hesitate to offer Amokye a position to work as a dishwasher at the diner — and Amokye couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

“Now I’m here pretty much every day — grateful for the chance to work,” Amokye shared. “Collin and his cafe have touched many lives, but especially mine.”

Kindness Really Is Contagious!

Even if you aren’t sure if the love you’re pouring out into the world is really making a difference — it always is.

Doran’s story shows us what one simple act can do. One free meal turned into another and another, until thousands of people were not just fed but truly received.

There is no greater gift we can give another human than to recognize their innate goodness and welcome them. Relationships come in all different forms where some last a life time, but even the most fleeting moments of kindness can change the course of someone’s day.

The choices we make today define our tomorrow. We are our habits. When we choose kindness, it becomes part of who we are.