Rosa's Fresh Pizza is making a difference among the homeless population of Philadelphia, one pizza slice at a time.
In December 2013, 26-year-old Mason Wartman left his Wall Street finance job to return to his hometown and open a restaurant named after his mother. The shop became popular, especially among the homeless community, for selling delicious, freshly made pizza for only $1 a slice. One day, a customer handed Wartman an extra dollar and asked him to use it to buy a slice for the next homeless person who walked in. Struck with a new idea, Wartman drew a smiley face on a Post-it note and stuck it on the wall to signify one free slice for a person in need. Since then, the simple act of kindness has blossomed into an extraordinary pay-it-forward initiative sustained by Rosa's staff and customers to help anyone who can't afford to eat.
Walking into the pizzeria, customers are greeted with the sight of hundreds of colorful Post-it notes covering the walls. Over the past 10 months, the shop has given away over 8,000 slices of pizza, averaging about 30-40 slices per day. Hearing of the heartwarming initiative, many of Rosa's customers choose to donate an extra dollar–or two, or twenty, or even a hundred–to help those in need. Wartman now keeps track of the free slices on the cash register, but customers can still scribble short messages or drawings on Post-it notes, which the pizzeria owner sticks up on his walls next to letters of gratitude from people who have felt the generosity of the program.
Now, after nearly a year of giving away pizza slices, Wartman is thinking up new ways to help the homeless community. He's partnered with Rush Order Tees to create an apparel line for the shop, with the sale of one T-shirt translating to seven free slices, and the sale of one sweatshirt providing another sweatshirt for a homeless person. Each sweatshirt has a tag on the inside that lists a schedule of meals and computer classes nearby. This is only Wartman's first attempt at providing the homeless population with more durable resources and ways to break the poverty cycle. Looking forward, we can't wait to see what Rosa's Fresh Pizza comes up with next to help those in need.