Pizzeria Bianco helps raise money for longtime employee who suffered two strokes

The community has come together to raise money for Chris Bianco's chef who suffered two strokes and is still in the hospital.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 9:04 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Pizzeria Bianco is asking for help after one of its longtime employees suffered two strokes. Chris Bianco, the owner, who’s also won two James Beard awards, took to social media to let people know he could always count on two things – “the sun coming up and Berto being there.” Alberto Hernandez, or as he’s better known to his second family at the restaurant, Berto, has worked at Pizzeria Bianco for more than two decades. He’s a fixture. “He’s been with us 27 years. I’ve worked with him for 25 and he’s a staple here. He’s the rock behind the establishment,” Dave Garland, the general manager, said. “He taught me everything,” he explained.

It made what happened to Hernandez about two weeks ago that much harder. His son, Jahir Hernandez, said his dad knew something was off. He went to the hospital, where he suffered a stroke. Then just hours later, a second, more debilitating one. “It’s been really tough on all of us, especially since he takes care of my whole family. My mother doesn’t work,” Jahir said. “We didn’t know what to expect and how things were going to go, but he’s been doing better, day by day,” he continued.

Jahir also works at Pizzeria Bianco, as does his uncle, Lacho. “We depend on him, his family depends on him, because he’s someone so strong go down so hard, it was rough,” Garland said. “He’s nonverbal, but he can communicate basically by if I give him a hard time he can roll his eyes,” he said of Berto.

Berto is 53 years old, and he’s married with five kids. With that in mind, the restaurant started a GoFundMe page. Bianco took to Instagram, writing, “I cobble these words together that in no way could ever articulate the goodness and greatness of this beautiful man and how no one I know deserves this less than him.”

In two days, they’ve raised nearly $69,000. The goal had been $50,000. “The outpouring of support from the Phoenix community and nationwide is just unbelievable. I mean I didn’t expect it. We reached the goal in not even a day, might have been 16 hours,” Garland said. To donate, click/tap here.