Thanks! This journey has been a wonderful one. It started with a dream 25 years ago and has evolved through my school run programs to things lining up to open our own shop in the private sector. Schools have been a mixed bag and I finally realized my dream can never be fully realized working in them. It is very moving to look back on the journey and see all the faces of past students and the countless people that have helped expand the program. From a simple smile, buying our product, media coverage, donations of time and money, giving me an ear more times than I can count when the insane educational system smashed the hopes for children with special needs....... The list is endless. Going private means leaving a very secure job of retirement and benefits and guarantees of stable living and thrusts us into the great unknown which at our age is deemed a big NO NO. At this time in life we are taught to relax, spend the rest of our days on ourself, and die in creature comfort. Well we have done the opposite- gone into big debt, no security other than our faith, and a belief that helping those that never asked to be born disabled is a high calling and moral obligation.
Things were looking pretty bleak much of this journey. We had to find a house which turned out to magically appear in a dark hour of fear and doubt and then a space for our pizzeria within a 40k budget. This was again a very dark path. Every restaurant ready space was either too big, to expensive, or would require us to be open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. There actually was not one space in all of Reno that we could afford so I started searching Craigslist and then forwarding any ad I found on to our realtor. I found one that looked promising but he told me the guy is a mental case and would avoid him like the plauge. I kept seeing an ad that looked like it might fit our needs but according to the map on the ad it was 55 miles from our house. In desperation I responded and found out it is only 11 miles from our house. We started corresponding and it seemed too good to be true for the location (most affluent area of Reno), rent way under our budget, keep our own hours, much of the equipment needed stays in the space, and it was originally a NY Style pizzeria so it is set up just as I want it. No need to remodel, just a board of health, fire, inspection and Reno business license. It passed inspection less than 6 months ago and the current tennant wanted to sub lease it to us. Fast forward 1 month to today and we are signing the lease tonight with the landlord. The tennant got in an argument with the landlord and took all his furniture out which we were going to buy from him. So I have been searching everywhere here and in Reno for furniture.
This morning thezazman emailed me and offered to donate to us enough furniture to fill the space. This was a beautiful thing and another sign of many on this journey that we are doing the right thing. I can already smell the pizzas cooking, smiling faces, my employees joyed to finally found a place where their unique ways of understanding life is not only valued but needed. Here is a photo of the space as it sits now (take away the furniture). Thezazmans furniture is black/red chairs and black tables which is perfect. We are going to paint the place white with green and red trim. The red brick wall will be our Hall of Fame with portraits of every special olympic medalist along with all the wonderful people that have helped make this journey possible. Thezazman is the latest addition
We already have 5-7 volunteers to help elbow grease the place clean, re expoxy the kitchen floor, paint, etc. A French trained chef/WFO caterer and her husband are coming out from Ohio on their own money to volunteer for a month to help once we open. We hope to be open by Dec 1.
The support since we have announced opening The Smiling with Hope Pizzeria has been overwhelming especially from the pizza community. For this my wife Judy and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Today is a special day and I can't wait to start serving pizzas. Oh, we also have an outdoor fenced in patio and with Reno weather that means near year round use of it. Walter