By Fox 8’s Roc Woodrum
GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Pizza Pan restaurant in Garfield Heights held a grand re-opening on Saturday afternoon. It will now be operated during the day by adults with disabilities.
Garfield Heights Mayor Vic Collova was there for the occasion and welcomed the new owner.
“Judy, I want to welcome you to Garfield Heights, we’re really proud to have you here. You are going to be a great asset to the community. We appreciate what New Hope is all about, and we wish you well,” said Collova.
The idea is the brainchild of Judith Nagy of New Hope Specialized Services, Pizza Pan’s newest franchisee.
“There are a couple of stores that are empty now, and I saw the opportunity. We can open it up for the special needs community, and hire them, obviously under supervision, and they are going to work here,” said Nagy.
Currently New Hope is providing jobs for 68 adults with disabilities. The difference now will be instead of the work coming to them, they will go to work.
“They are interested in so-called real jobs, they call it real jobs, to go out in the community, and many of these people do not have the opportunity to work somewhere else,” added Nagy.
“This New Hope is really something special, because they are doing something not only for the community, and bringing pizza and great food into the community, but also they are doing it to help some autistic children,” added Collova.
Karen Vershall currently works at New Hope and is looking forward to her new job with Pizza Pan.
“At Pizza Pan I hope to learn the registers,” said Vershall.
“Pizza Pan is excited about New Hope, because if it works here in Garfield Heights, which has begun, we’re looking to take that model to other Pizza Pans. You are going to get good pizza, these folks are supervised, and what happens here is good pizza, good people, and you put those things together, and it makes for a great community,” said Greg Rockich, the marketing manager for Pizza Pan.