Newcomers at Rosa's Fresh Pizza might think the store's owner has an odd obsession with sticky notes. But the plethora of pinks, blues and yellows spanning the restaurant's walls have nothing to do with interior aesthetics and everything to do with uniting a community in caring for its poorest residents.
Mason Wartman, who owns the Philadelphia pizza parlor, is gaining national attention for his unique business model of giving back, NBC 10 News reported. Customers at Rosa's, where a piece of pizza is $1, can choose to buy a slice for a homeless person for just another buck. They're then able to write a heartfelt message on a sticky note and add it to the wall, where those in need who've benefited from the pay it forward pizza have also written responses of gratitude.
"A slice of pizza is a big deal to me," one homeless person at Rosa's said. "Because of Mason, I'm assured of at least one slice of pizza every day."
NPR reported that customers have bought about 8,400 slices of pizza for the homeless over the past nine months.
"This is a super-easy way, a super-efficient way and a super-transparent way to help the homeless," Wartman told the outlet. "Sometimes homeless people buy [slices] for other homeless people."
Wartman's post-its were originally intended to keep track of how many slices were available for hungry customers. But after the number of free slices grew to about 500, his post-it strategy could no longer could keep up with the demand to give back. Wartman now uses the store's register to stay on top of how many slices have been paid for ahead of time by kind customers.
Ellen DeGeneres praised Wartman's good deeds on Tuesday when he stopped in for a segment on her talk show. During his visit, DeGeneres encouraged viewers to visit Rosa's and gave Wartman a check for $10,000 to help run his business.
"A lot of people ... they ask homeless people for directions in my shop," Wartman said on the talk show. "They don't even know that they're communicating and interacting with them as equals. It's really cool to build the community like that."
Watch the full segment on "Ellen" below: