Alpha Pizzeria a Delicious Way to Support San Diego’s Homeless
The sleek black-and-glass building sitting at the corner of 14th and Market in San Diego’s East Village is nothing less than the combination headquarters; permanent, supportive housing; and treatment center of Alpha Project, called Alpha Square, which serves many of San Diego’s homeless. And, on the first floor and small courtyard at that corner is a new addition: Alpha Pizzeria, just as sleek with gray and black decor.
Alpha Project teamed up with chef Alex Carballo of Service Culture Restaurant Group to develop a 1,000-square-foot eatery that would focus on pizza, as well as other dishes, made from fresh ingredients and offered at a reasonable price not only to Alpha Project residents and staff but the public. And Alpha Pizzeria’s profits will support the parent organization’s projects.
“I was introduced to the people at Alpha Project by a former employee and came on board in April 2017 to develop the menu and brand, build operations, and do hiring,” said Carballo, whom readers may know from his days at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, URBN, and Moto Deli.
Carballo developed a menu that features pizza by the slice, build-your-own pasta, grilled paninis, cold sandwiches, baked sandwiches, and salads. Prefer a Mushroom Pesto Calzone with mozzarella, pesto, mushrooms, and truffle oil to the pizza version? You can order that. Or chicken wings. Or breadsticks. Alpha Pizzeria makes its own pizza dough, dressings, and sauces, he said.
“We’re using the best ingredients we can find, locally sourced where we can,” Carballo explained. “Some will come from Specialty Produce, but we also have a gardening program we’ll tap into.”
Alpha Pizzeria, which is open for lunch and dinner, offers plenty of tables for dining in, but also local pick up and catering services—thanks to a 7,000-square-foot kitchen.
While the eatery is currently using an experienced, trained staff, the goal is to firm up operations so that they can bring in Alpha Project residents for training and work experience, founder and president Robert McElroy said.
They expect to launch an eight-week training course in about a month with six to eight students, who will learn from a variety of local chefs and even have the opportunity to get a ServSafe certification that denotes their qualification as a food handler.
“It’s about empowerment, not entitlement,” said McElroy. “They can work for us, build a resume, and deal with their issues in a safe environment.”
Alpha Pizzeria is located at 550 14th St. in San Diego’s East Village and open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Customers can order online or come in to eat.