Rosa's Fresh Pizza is serving up food, comfort, and kindness to Philadelphia's homeless residents. The New-York-style pizzeria is partnering with its customers to help feed the hungry by allowing them to pre-purchase slices for indigent men and women.
Paying it Forward with Pizza
Rosa's owner is Mason Wartman, a former Wall Street investment banker. The entrepreneur left his job to launch a dollar pizza store in the City of Brotherly Love. Today, the store is not only delivering delicious pies; it's providing its own form of social work through hope.
Philadelphia has one of the nation's worst poverty rates and more than 185,000 people live on incomes below the federal poverty line. The pay-it-forward program began with one individual and a Post-it note.
In 2013, a customer stopped by Rosa's and asked to pre-purchase a slice for a poor person. He said that the practice, popular in Italian coffee houses, is called caffè sospeso (suspended coffee). Consumers buy beverages and meals for people who can't afford them. Wartman scribbled the donation on a Post-it note and pasted it on the wall behind the register. The next homeless patron could redeem the coupon in his store.
The entrepreneur didn't realize the small act of kindness would revolutionize his business. Word spread across the city and more customers purchased slices for people that couldn't afford them. His pizzeria's walls bloomed into a colorful display of notes filled with loving messages. Each note guaranteed food for individuals that could not afford meals.
A Warm Slice of Kindness
So far, Wartman's customers have purchased over10,000 slices of pizza for the homeless. The additional traffic has increased revenue, and the sales make up 10 percent of his business. Wartman says the approach is a wonderful solution to help his store while feeding the hungry.
The pay-it-forward pizza has helped many homeless people stay out of trouble. They no longer have to resort to petty crimes just to eat. Michael Rodriguez, an unemployed, homeless man, said eating at the shop uplifted him.
"Pizza's my favorite, so it's a win-win and it's free," he said.
The Post-it notes also provide comfort for those in need. Rodriguez says his favorite one came from a customer that said he'd been in the same situation. The message told him to do the right things, believe in God, and his miracle would come soon. Recently, he started a job and was planning to move out of the shelter.
The acts of kindness even caught Ellen DeGeneres' attention who donated $10,000 to help the pizzeria feed the hungry. At Staffing Plus, we provide social workers for many environments and also offer opportunities for those seeking jobs in this field.
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