On most days, Bada Bing! Pizzeria in Springfield, Ohio, simply cranks out the garlic knots and calzones (to great Yelp reviews). But this Thanksgiving, it’s taking on a different role: as a refuge for people in need.
“A lot of people, just like myself, we don’t really see what’s going on in the community when it comes to homelessness and poverty,” Bada Bing! owner Jason Hague told News Outlets. “A lot of us just go to Walmart or the mall to go shopping and we just don’t see the plight of others that are in need.”
Hague had already planned to host a Thanksgiving dinner in the shop for his friends, family, and members of his staff who didn’t have anywhere else to go when he thought:
Why not invite local homeless and hungry people too?
In order to make sure word got around, Hague put this sign in the window:
“I wanted to put the sign on the door just to let people know, ‘Hey, we’re closed, but we’re here as well, so if you want to come in, stop in, we got a seat for you,” Hague said.
The photo quickly went viral in the community — and around the Internet. As of the time of publication, the photo of the sign had been shared over 5,000 times on Facebook.
“Come dinnertime last night, we were just so inundated with not just customers, but people just coming in that wanted to help out and donate their time, services, or money to helping out with this cause,” Hague said.
According to Hague, one customer — an elementary school-aged kid — has even offered to perform magic tricks at dinner.
Hague’s plan to invite the homeless and hungry to Thanksgiving was a big hit with the pizzeria’s staff as well.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Michelle Butler, an employee of the pizzeria, told Upworthy. According to Butler, when Hague announced the Thanksgiving plan, many on staff immediately volunteered to pitch in.
“I donated four turkeys. We went from three turkeys to seven turkeys,” Butler said. She plans to make them all tonight.
Though Hague is a little nervous about being overwhelmed with people, he’s grateful for the amazing support of his staff and customers. Initially, he had enough food for 15 people, but after all the attention the post received, he went back to the grocery store and purchased 100 servings of turkey and all the trimmings.
Bada Bing! is one of a number of restaurants reaching out to those less fortunate.
Restaurants like Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia have received a ton of attention and praise for allowing customers to “pay it forward” by purchasing pizza slices for the needy for $1 each. Back in April, the owner of P.B. Jams in Oklahoma City left a note for a person digging through their trash inviting them in for a free meal.
The thing they all have in common? The desire to treat homeless and hungry people not as objects to be afraid of, but as fellow members of the community who might be down on their luck and in need of a hand.
“Even if we’re able to feed just one family, I’m OK with that,” Hague said.
It’s a sentiment that the Bada Bing! staff shares.
“A lot of people don’t have families to go to, and there’s a lot of homeless here in Springfield,” Butler said. “I think it’ll bring people together and just be a special time.”
For Hague, that’s exactly what the holiday is supposed to be.
“Thanksgiving is one of those days that you want to spend time with your family and friends, but it’s also a time to give thanks for what you have, and we’ve been very blessed here,” Hague said. “So if we’re able to bless someone else by giving them hope, then that makes me feel good.”