#PieItForward @ Solorzano's Late Night GG... Every sticker represents a donation, either food or money, & Anyone who comes in and can't afford food can pick a note off the wall and enjoy what someone left for them. #P...
#PieItForwardWall at Solorzano's Late Night Pizzeria Gulf Gate
Pizza customers leave donations for hungry
CBS Channel 10 News with Bobby Lewis, WTSP 9:35 a.m. EDT June 5, 2015
Sarasota, Florida -- Phil Solorzano saw a homeless man looking for food one afternoon and felt like he had to help. He picked him up in his pizza truck brought him to his shop.
He fed him and started a Pay-It-Forward movement.
Solorzano's Late Night Pizzeria has only been open for a month, but word is already spreading about Gulf Gate's newest pizza joint.
"I swear, the first day we were open it was crazy," said Phil, a New Jersey native and third-generation pizza shop owner. "And it's been crazy ever since."
Crazy because the food is so good and the shop is like a little slice of home.
"It feels like you sit at Mom's kitchen table," said fellow New Jersey native, Sue Inman.
The entire left wall is like a Solorzano's family album with photos from all of the family pizzerias dating back to Phil's grandfather, Filippo.
However, the tiny right wall is catching all the attention.
"Stickers up on the restaurant," said Velma Bernstein. "I had to have my stickers up there. So, I came in a got a few of them."
Bernstein came to Solorzano's just because of the sticky notes plastered all over the wall. Every sticker represents a donation, either food or money, given by a Solorzano's customer. Anyone who comes in and can't afford food can pick a note off the wall and enjoy what someone left for them.
"It's a movement that we started you know," said Phil. "We feel very accomplished. People are happy. Feeding people that need it. What's better feeling is that?"
On Wednesday alone, Phil's customers paid it forward $227. Right now on the wall there's about 70 sticky notes and he's hoping that his entire wall is covered in color very soon.
"My goal in the next two months is to get this entire wall covered right here," he said. "Filled up with post-it notes and that'll make me feel good."
Solorzano's family has four restaurants in the Sarasota area.
Paying it forward at Solorzano's
June 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm Written by Jessica Floum Of The Sarasota Herald Tribune Newspaper
Phil Solorzano started a Pay It Forward wall at Solorzano's Pizza in Gulf Gate. Phil Solorzano was driving his pizza truck to one of his four businesses when he saw a homeless man panhandling on the corner on a Monday afternoon.Hop in, he told him.
Solorzano drove the man to his Gulf Gate pizza shop, handed him a slice and pointed to a red refrigerator covered in sticky notes. The man walked out with free pizza.Solorzano started the “Pay it Forward Wall” at Solorzano's Late Night Pizzeria in Gulf Gate after a friend tagged him in a Facebook post about a similar initiative last month. Customers who pass up a free drink can “put it on the wall” for another patron to take later. Those feeling generous can pay for extra slices or donate so anyone without money can taste Solorzano's later.“
It's not just for people that are poor or homeless,” Solorzano said. “It's for people that just don't have money that day. We all go through that stuff. Even business owners might not have funds for certain things.”
The wall had 15 stickers on it by the end of the first night. Since then, Solorzano has saved a woman a walk to her car to get her wallet and fed a local body builder's “drunchies,” a craving for late night food after drinking alcohol. He has also spread the word to others who simply can't afford food.
The program has also benefited the restaurant, which already gave away free pizzas and slices when they were no longer fresh enough to sell.“
It really popped off,” Solorzano said. “It's not like we're giving stuff away for free like we were already doing. Now people are actually giving us money to give stuff away for free.”
Solorzano's family has been in pizza for decades. His grandfather, Filippo Centrella, moved from Avellino, a small town near Naples, Italy, to Western New York and opened up a pizzeria with his brother. The two opened at least three restaurants in the New Jersey area. Solorzano's father, Carlos Solorzano, started working in the pizza shops as a teenager. He met his future wife, Centralla's daughter, Franca, working at the restaurant. Their two sons, Phil and Carlos Jr., fit naturally in the business.
Phil, or Filippo, Solorzano now has a tattoo of his grandfather Filippo's face and name in a sea of tattoos on his right bicep.“That's my grandfather, the guy who started it all,” Solorzano said.The brothers and their parents moved down to Sarasota in 2003, after a beach vacation and a dearth of Jersey-style pizza shops inspired Phil Solorzano to relocate his family. His parents and brother agreed immediately.“ It was pretty crazy but we learned so much from it,” said brother Carlos Solorzano Jr.
His family opened Solorzano's Restaurant in March 2004. In 2007, he and his brother opened a pizzeria on Siesta Key. Nothing would stop the brothers from expanding. When police told the Solorzanos they couldn't hand out fliers on the beach and arrested one of their employees for doing so, Phil parked a truck by the beach with his brand on it. He opened up a smoke shop on Siesta from which he could hand out fliers freely.
Working at the smoke shop led to another venture. His desire to protect the glass pipes he sold at Solorzano's Smoke Shop inspired him to make Glass Gripper, a protective layer used to protect pipes from hard surfaces.
His product took off when a customer ordered thousands of them. High Times Magazine and other national cannabis magazines wrote about him and the next thing he knew, Solorzano was promoting his product at a trade show in Las Vegas. He started throwing promotional parties with rap stars like Coolio and Yelawolf and comedian Tommy Chong. He started a rap production company called Philly Blunt Productions — whose followers would later donate up to $80 at a time to Solorzano's Late Night Pizzeria in Gulf Gate via PayPal to help the Pay it Forward cause.“
We have that Jersey hustle,” Solorzano said. “I had to find every niche to get my name out there.”Solorzano likes how the competition of working by other pizzerias pushes him, but he says he respects other businesses. He avoids selling fried food out of respect for the menu at Munchies 420 Café, his across-the-street neighbor. He has never opened up a pizza shop on Main Street out of respect for the owner of Il Panificio, who hosted him during his first trip to Sarasota.
The competition doesn't worry him, he says.“ We do a different kind of pizza,” Solorzano said. “We make our own bread. We make our own meatballs. We make our own sauce. No one makes it like we do. I guarantee it.
Call 201-819-8630 For More Info or Email GlassGripper@Gmail.Com
The plan is to reopen my nonno's old pizzeria, in Hoboken New Jersey, and bring the #PieItForwardMovement back to Jersey where it all started...
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