In 2013 Mason Wartman left his high flying job on Wall Street to open a hole in the wall restaurant, bringing the popular New York $1 pizza slice idea to Philadelphia. He named it Rosa’s Fresh Pizza and nowadays they dish up a whole load of hope and generosity to the city on the side.
One day a customer walked in and enquired whether they could pre-pay for a slice of pizza, to be given to the next person who asked for help. He claimed he has been inspired by a practice in Italy called ‘cafe suspero‘ or ‘suspended coffee’, where customers can donate a caffeine hit to those without enough cash.
Wartman drew a smiley face on a post-it to make a simple voucher, which he stuck on the wall to be redeemed at a later date. It might seem trivial to bother over $1, but in Philadelphia there are plenty of people for whom this would make a difference.
The city is the poorest large metropolis in the country, with 400,000 of the 1.6 million inhabitants living below the poverty line. Despite doing a lot to tackle homelessness, in 2014 there was only enough shelter for half of those that were sleeping rough, many of whom are children.
Back at Rosa’s Pizza, word was spreading about the pay it forward idea, that anyone who was strapped for cash could come in and hopefully get a free slice. Plenty of those with a dollar to spare did their good deed for the day and since 2014 they have served up over 10,000 slices of cheesy goodness to those in need.
Pre-purchased slices now make up nearly 10% of Rosa’s business and the wall is covered with colourful post-it-notes, some as vouchers and some as expressions of gratitude. Some homeless customers have come back in after a time away, only to announce they now have a job and want to pay it forward themselves.
Address: 25 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
via Design You Trust