By Eillie Anzilotti
Fast Company, Oct 31, 2017
Serving up unique pies for an affordable price–and a living wage and healthcare for employees–the ethical pizza shop is expanding rapidly.
Michael Lastoria, co-founder, creative director, and CEO of &pizza–dubbed “the pizza shop for the 21st century” by The Washington Post–has vivid memories of opening his first shop on H Street in Northeast D.C. in the summer of 2012. The area was rapidly gentrifying; new restaurants were opening with price tags that placed the new eateries out of reach of the people that had lived around H street their whole lives. So when Lastoria opened shop, he did things differently.
“We priced people in,” Lastoria says while speaking at &pizza’s 28th street shop in New York City, one of the newest of its now 23 locations, during the Fast Company Innovation Festival. ... In the five years since the H Street shop opened, &pizza has expanded through Maryland and Virginia to Philadelphia and New York City; Boston and Miami are next. ...
“We want to be the best neighbors,” Lastoria says. “We have a running policy that if you come in and tell us about a cause you care about, we’ll support it.” ...
But there’s one cause in particular that inflects all the work &pizza does, and that’s fair wages. Over the summer, Lastoria headed to Capitol Hill to re-introduce a bill with Senator Bernie Sanders, calling for a $15 minimum wage by 2024. “We’re creating an environment that promotes bringing the best out,” Lastoria says. “We don’t hire for skill, we hire for personality and style,” he adds. “You just need to be yourself.” That often leads to &pizza hiring people that have not had many job opportunities before–and certainly not ones that pay a living wage and offer healthcare. But to Lastoria, the way of doing business that hurts workers in an effort to save costs is not doing good business at all–and it creates a work environment that’s impossible to feel any loyalty to. ...
Copyright 2017 Fast Company
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