Pay-It-Forward Program at Tinybrickoven Leads to Upcoming Pizza Event for the Homeless

| September 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

Like many businesses, Federal Hill pizza shop TinyBrickOven’s sales were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic which made paying some bills difficult for owner Will Fagg. This led to him reaching out to his email and social media subscribers last month letting them know about a $2,000-plus electric bill that he was struggling to pay. He wanted to see if they could come in to support him by buying some pizza.

Fagg, who is a United States Navy veteran, has friends from all over the country and several called him to donate money, but he didn’t want to go that route. A friend from Rhode Island tried ordering and paying for pizzas he didn’t intend on picking up just to boost sales, but Fagg recognized his friend’s voice. His friend then said, “How about I buy two pizzas for the next people walking down the street?”

Fagg liked the idea and thought he could do a pay-it-forward program to help feed the homeless with the pre-paid pizzas. This idea has been done at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia and it keeps with caffĂ© sospeso, a century-old Italian tradition that started in Naples as a way of paying in advance for a cup of coffee for someone who can not afford it. Fagg reached out to Rosa’s owner Mason Wartman to make sure he was okay with him using the idea, and Wartman was all about it.

The pay-it-forward pizza program was then launched. For $9, customers could purchase two slices of cheese pizza and a soda. Between people coming in to pick up pizza and people paying it forward, TinyBrickOven had its busiest week ever. A total of 171 pizza donations were purchased which filled two boards and a wall at TinyBrickOven with Post-It notes for redeemable pizzas.

“It was a crazy overwhelming response,” said Fagg. “It was a really good outpouring of community support. And, it felt really nice to get that support when I needed it.” He said the majority of the business and support came from customers in the neighborhood.

TinyBrickOven is hosting its “free pizza dinner for the hungry and homeless” this coming Monday from 4pm to 8pm. TinyBrickOven is usually closed on Mondays but is opening for the event. Fagg has reached out to local homeless people to help spread the word.

This will be the second event Fagg has hosted for the homeless following his soup kitchen on Easter.

Fagg has already used some of the pay-it-forward orders to deliver pizza to the House of Ruth and Front Porch Church.

Fagg has also spent his time during this pandemic selling pizza kits, building portable hand washing sinks, learning how to make his own gelato (including a recipe for dogs), and starting an online store. Fagg hopes to offer delivery in the future. He said he’s had a significant bump in business that has continued since reaching out for help.

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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