The walls at Albert’s Pizza in Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island, are decorated with empty boxes. Each one has a personalized message for someone special.
“I started on the day after the inauguration because there was a lot of bickering,” Rich Baer, co-owner of the pizzeria said. “Just felt we needed some positive things.”
So when U.S. Army veteran Thomas Conran came in for a pie, an anonymous customer already took care of the bill. The concept is pay it forward with pizza. The goal is to bring people together. They’ve given away more than 50 pies.
Rich or the staff takes pictures with everyone who gets a box. They’re posted to Facebook so the person who bought it can see who received it.
John McDermott said he and his mom were buying a couple of slices and suddenly the store told them they were getting a pie. John’s mom Catherine was the recipient. It was prepaid by Michelle Ansbach, who dedicated the pie to a grandmother in honor of hers.
“I looked up and said ‘I have to do that today,'” she said.
John returned the favor and paid $15 for the next high school baseball player that came in. The concept is contagious. One pie will be for a senior citizen, another will go to someone who lost their job, and yet another for a nurse, and another for a single mom.
“As long as it ain’t political, I’ll put it up on the wall,” Baer said.
They always match the message with a customer who fits the description, bringing a community together one pie at a time.