Chicago restaurant owner helps cold vendors, hungry homeless with tamale purchases

Restaurant owner serves up hope through tamales
Restaurant owner serves up hope through tamal... 01:42

The sun isn't up yet on a freezing February morning in Chicago but Robert Magiet is on the move, searching for his unlikely target — 15 dozen steaming tamales. 

"We are hoping to buy their stock of tamales out so they can get out of the cold and go home for the day," said Magiet, a restaurant owner. 

Magiet buys the tamale stand's whole supply and Maria Palacio, who runs the stand, gets to end her day almost before it begins. 

Palacio was in "disbelief," Magiet said. "She thought I was crazy which is generally the reaction I get." 

He's not crazy, but he cares. He takes those tamales to homeless shelters and tent camps under train tracks, which is where Mike Williams lives. 

"It's not often that we get a hot meal," Williams said. "It means a lot." 

The idea was spontaneous. 

"I saw a lady that looked like she was dressed to be in Alaska," Magiet said. "I pulled over and asked her if I buy all your tamales will you go home for the day?" 

The restaurant owner paid out of pocket until he posted pictures on social media. Then donations poured in

Buying the hot tamales does a lot more than get vendors out of the cold. It gives hope to those who need it most. 

"We all need to have a little more compassion for each other and things will take care of themselves," Magiet said.