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Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, the Center City shop that donates 100 slices per day, is opening a second location

Rosa's founder Mason Wartman with a visiting elementary school class. July 21, 2017 Category: FeaturedPurposeShort
Rosa’s Fresh Pizza has helped many people who are homeless receive a free meal, but it’s also helped many people enrich their lives — take the “visitor’s stories” on Rosa’s website as testimony.

Almost three years ago, Generocity wrote about the sticky note-laden company’s pay-it-forward, $1-per-slice program — now $1.25 — to combat hunger in Philly’s Center City homeless population, a initiative that has since gotten national attention (including from Ellen).

We checked in with Rosa’s founder Mason Wartman this week about what the company has been up to — and, as a refresher, how the pay-it-forward program started.

“It wasn’t until three months after we opened that a customer offered to buy a slice for the next homeless person,” Wartman said. “And I thought that was a cool idea, so we started doing that.” From then on, the program took off with lots of people donating.

That’s where all those sticky notes on the walls came from.

“We would put one up when someone donated and take one down when [someone asked for a free slice]. But the program got to be too big,” he said. “[The] kitchen walls were covered in Post-it notes.”

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Around the 500th note, Wartman and co. started using a registrar to keep official track of donations and the slices they were giving away. The now-defunct sticky note system left the lasting impression of inspiration, love, generosity and kindness on both the customers and the people receiving free slices of pizza: The symbolic notes people still leave consist of sayings such as “Believe there is good in the world” and “You’re loved.”

They also motivate the shop’s visitors to donate money to help a person who is homeless have a free slice of pizza. Rosa’s donates roughly 100 slices of pizza a day, Wartman said, with about 150,000 slices of pizza donated over the past three and a half years.

Don’t feel up to commuting to Rosa’s at 25 S. 11th St. to donate? In about a month, Rosa’s will be opening its second store at 40th and Market streets with newer options, such as a salad bar. Stay tuned to the company’s social media for an exact date.

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