EDINBURGH, Scotland — Leonardo DiCaprio made hundreds of Scots swoon Thursday during a visit to an eatery here that helps homeless people in Scotland.
The scene on Queensferry Street near noon local time was packed with parka-wearing, phone-waving fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood star as he dropped in for a bite of lamb and couscous at Home, a restaurant set up by the food charity Social Bite to provide food, training and jobs for the homeless.
The Oscar-winner (The Revenant) and humanitarian/environmental activist arrived at the restaurant to cheers from fans, many of whom had been waiting for several hours to see him. He signed autographs for a few minutes at two pens set up on the street.
Carol Honeyman, who left her house about 50 miles away at 5 a.m. to be there, carried a large canvas of a scene from The Departed, which DiCaprio signed.
"I don't really know why I do these things but it was so worth it," she said. "I got this canvas signed before by Ray Winstone, and now it's complete with Leo's....He's a star."
This was DiCaprio's first visit to Scotland. He's in the capital for the Scottish Business Awards where he will deliver the keynote speech.
By grabbing lunch at Home, DiCaprio is following in the footsteps of fellow movie stars (George Clooney visited a Social Bite sandwich shop in Edinburgh last year before making the keynote speech at the awards ceremony) and senior royals (Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles, also supports Social Bite's work).
Home opened in Edinburgh in September, with Scottish chef Martin Wishart providing recipes for the restaurant's monthly specials. Customers are encouraged to ''pay forward'' meals for the homeless, who can attend a special meal service for those sleeping rough every Monday afternoon.
Social Bite has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, which operate the same "pay forward" scheme and employ a number of people who have previously been homeless.
Josh Littlejohn, a co-founder of Social Bite, said the charity was honored by DiCaprio's visit. "For Leo to choose to highlight this initiative whilst in Scotland is very humbling and we are grateful to him for raising the awareness.”
Biffy Mackay, 28, a trainee chef with Social Bite, helped prepare the meal ("I steamed his couscous. He's having lamb tagine.") for DiCaprio. She said it was the "most nerve-racking thing" she has ever done, but was delighted to get a signed note from the star reading, "To Biffy, all the best."
"He was so nice, so down to earth," she said.
Follow Jill Castle on Twitter: @jillscastle