Would you spend an extra dollar on your next meal in order to feed a homeless person? At Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, owner Mason Wartman encourages his customers to do just that. His community-friendly business model allows customers to pay it forward with pizza, one hot and fresh slice at a time.
Before even turning 30, Wartman left his Wall Street job to start his own pizza shop in his hometown of Philadelphia. With Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, he wanted to sell freshly made slices at just $1 a piece. Because of the low price, his shop became popular among Philadelphia’s homeless population. Now, the homeless are more than just patrons – they’re part of his business model.
At Rosa’s, customers can pay $1 extra to buy a slice of pizza for a homeless person. After making a donation, the customer takes a sticky note, writes a message on it and puts it on the wall of the restaurant. Then, a homeless person can come in and redeem a sticky note for a slice of pizza. Thanks to the program, the walls of Rosa’s are covered with brightly colored sticky notes, each with an encouraging message, like “God Bless,” and, “Have a good day!” Also thanks to the program, many of Philadelphia’s homeless people are guaranteed at least one meal per day. Rosa’s has served more than 8,500 slices of pizza through the pay-it-forward program, feeding between 30 and 40 homeless people every day.
At this point, the sticky notes are symbolic gestures. Rosa’s is known around town as a steady source of sustenance and kindness. It’s also a prime example of a successful small business that puts the community first. For more information about Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, visit www.rosasfreshpizza.com.
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