In 2013, Mason Wartman quit “the best job he ever had on Wall Street” and moved home to Philadelphia to open a pizza shop. A drastic change by anyone’s standards, Wartman’s decision drew national attention when his dollar-per-slice pizzeria — opened only months after he made the jump from suit and tie — went viral for its “pay it forward program,” which allowed customers to prepay for pizza to benefit the homeless. Quickly, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza became covered in colorful post-its, the currency of paid-forward pizza, with homeless customers grabbing the colorful notes off the wall to get a hot meal and a place to eat it. Rosa’s Fresh Pizza appeared on Upworthy, then all over the internet. Wartman even crossed the victory line and took his rightful place on Ellen’s couch, receiving accolades from the talk show host and her audience.
The rest, you would expect, is history. But it isn’t. According to Wartman–who spoke with us about his decision to start the business, the “Wall Street Man Makes Good” mythos, and life after Ellen–Rosa’s Fresh Pizza is still thriving. As Wartman points out, there’s lots of work to do after the viral attention dies down. That’s why he doesn’t leave the shop for speaking engagements. He’s still there, working behind the register almost day in and day out.