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

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Phoenix (3TV/CBS 5) – Pizzeria Bianco is seeking help after one of its longtime employees suffered two strokes. Owner Chris Bianco, who has won two James Beard Awards, took to social media to tell people he can always count on two things — “The sun is rising and Berto is here.” Alberto Hernández, or better known Among his other family at the restaurant, Burto, has been working at Pizzeria Bianco for more than two decades. He’s a fixture. “He’s been with us for 27 years. I’ve been working with him for 25 years and he’s the most important here. He’s the rock behind the installation,” said General Manager Dave Garland. “He taught me everything,” he explained.

That made what happened to Hernandez almost two weeks ago very difficult. His son Zaheer Hernandez said his father knew something was wrong. He was taken to the hospital where he suffered a stroke. Then a few hours later, a second, even more debilitating. “It’s been really tough for all of us, especially as he takes care of my entire family. My mother doesn’t work,” Zaheer said. “We didn’t know what to expect and how things were going, but he’s getting better every day,” he continued.

Like his uncle Lacho, Zaheer also works in the Pizzeria Bianco. “We depend on him, his family depends on him because he’s so strong, he goes down so hard, it’s been tough,” Garland said. “He’s nonverbal, but he can basically communicate if I give him a hard time so he can roll his eyes,” he said of Burto.

Berto is 53 years old and has five children. With that in mind, the restaurant launched a GoFundMe page. Bianco wrote on Instagram, “I have compiled these words which in no way can ever express the goodness and greatness of this handsome man and how do I know that no one deserves less than he is.”

In two days, they raised nearly $69,000. The goal was $50,000. “The outpouring of support from the Phoenix community and across the country is incredible. I mean I didn’t expect it. We probably wouldn’t have got there in one day, it would have been 16 hours,” Garland said. To donate, click here. /Beat.