Philadelphia Pizza Shop Lets Customers Pay it Forward with Pizza

pay it forward with pizza

When you first walk into Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, you’ll see a variety of colorful Post-It notes lining the walls. It might not be the most stylish décor choice, but there’s a pretty powerful story behind the sticky notes.

Each note includes a message from a customer who took part in the pay it forward with pizza program. The program allows patrons to buy a $1 pizza slice for a member of the homeless community in Philadelphia.

The program started about a year ago. And according to NPR, Rosa’s customers have so far purchased about 8,400 slices for their homeless neighbors. That’s a huge potential impact on the community. And it gives members of the homeless community a place to go when they need a quick bite to eat.

At first, Rosa’s staff actually used the Post-It notes to keep track of how many slices they owed to their homeless customers. But since the pay it forward with pizza program has grown so much, they now have to keep track at the register. The Post-Its now only serve as an inspiration and reminder of the program and the impact it can have.

The homeless pizza recipients can even leave their own messages on the wall expressing gratitude or motivation. One of the notes from a homeless customer at the restaurant, according to NPR, read:

“I just want to thank everyone that donated to Rosa’s; it gave me a place to eat everyday and the opportunity to get back on my feet. I start a new job tomorrow!”

A normal slice of pizza at Rosa’s only costs a dollar. So for just an extra sixty cents customers can buy a meal for someone who really needs it. It’s an inexpensive way to really make a difference. And the pay it forward with pizza program certainly serves to set apart a restaurant that cares about its community.

Image: Rosa’s Pizza


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

7 Reactions
  1. This is a good way to help people and do good business. I want to implement this in a cafe. I think it may have implemented before for free coffee.

    • It could definitely apply to a lot of different business models. I’d love to see it become more widely adopted!

  2. A small group of Brewers/ craft pubs in New Zealand, called Sprig & Fern, have been doing something similar for aaaages. Beer chalkboard: pay for a brew add your mates name to the board, sorted.

    Great concept, love their work.

  3. Now THIS is what ‘Pay It Forward’ should really be about – not a bunch of hipsters and yuppies paying the same $7 they would have paid for their latte anyways – and claiming it to be for the person behind them. Those types of ‘Pay It Forward’ games really benefit no one anyways – everyone ends up paying approx what they would have paid anyways, and the same people end up getting the same drinks they would have gotten anyways. In THIS case, people truly in need of help received it – when they otherwise might not have. This is above and beyond giving – true giving.

    • Yes, this does seem to be a more beneficial program for people who really need it. It can be a nice gesture to buy a coffee for someone in a cafe, but those people probably don’t really need the help. In this case, just a dollar can provide a meal for someone and really help them out. I think it’s really awesome!

  4. such a beautiful way to help the people who really need it, Same time a nice way to increase sales and revenues of the business.