When it comes to pizzerias, the Smiling with Hope Bakery is not traditional.
Smiling with Hope is in a school, which means locked doors and specific hours.
There’s no phone line, no advertising, and customers have to place orders in advance.
There’s only one size option for pizzas, 18 inches, and two topping choices: cheese or pepperoni.
However, the pizza is really good, and people are starting to notice. This winter, Smiling with Hope Bakery — run by special-needs students at Newark High School — will be featured on Serious Eats, a cluster of websites dedicated to celebrating food.
The article will run in the Slice blog and will be available at slice.serious eats.com.
“If you look at our bakery — pizzeria, so to speak — we’re doing everything not right,” said Walter Gloshinski, the Newark City Schools intervention specialist who manages the bakery.
“The amazing thing is that a pizzeria in Ohio is being acknowledged (on Serious Eats), and it’s being run by disabled people.”
There’s no specific date for the Smiling with Hope episode to run, but it likely will probably be posted on Serious Eats either late this month or early in February, said Adam Kuban, the Slice founder who is writing the article.
Gloshinski started Smiling with Hope on a much smaller scale about seven years ago, with students making dog treats called Max’ T-Biscuits for Dogs in a former home economics classroom. The menu has since expanded to include pizza, bagels, cookies and more, and a year and a half ago, the operation became a fully licensed bakery which is open to the public.
Now, Smiling with Hope has contracts with Newark City Schools, Granville City Schools and Denison University, to name a few.
“My whole goal is to show people that disabled people can do things that we never thought possible,” Gloshinski said. “I’m dealing with kids who have had their shoes tied, have had their faces wiped, have had their food cut up for them, and now they’re serving two school districts and a university.”
Gloshinski has Italian roots and he spent his childhood in New York City and New Jersey, so he knows good pizza, he said. At Smiling with Hope, he’s taking that New York style pizza and recreating it in Newark. He uses 1970s-era pizza ovens and imported Italian cheese. The pizzas are all hand-tossed and cooked directly on the stone.
In New York, a similar pizza might cost $14 or $15, but here, they go for $9 or $10, largely because Smiling with Hope doesn’t have to deal with the overhead costs of a traditional restaurant, and because community members have been generous with grants and other support, Gloshinski said.
“From A to Z, we’ve had nothing but support,” he said. “It’s been a challenging journey, but it’s all going good.”
Gloshinski has a caseload of six students at Newark High School, and they spend most of the day working in the bakery. There are another 10 that stop by just for a class period — Gloshinski’s students go elsewhere during that time for academic training — but to Gloshinski, the important factor is his students are learning while they bake. They’re not just rolling dough and shuttling pans in and out of ovens; they’re learning how to measure, shop, take inventory, follow directions for deliveries and work on a team, even with people they may not like.
Those are all necessary skills for the real world, Gloshinski said, and they are skills that will help his students land jobs later in life.
It’s “functional, real-life academics,” Gloshinski sad. “We’re training them not only for work but for life.”
For many of his students, all they’ve ever been taught is to sit in a seat and do first- and second-grade level academic work, Gloshinski said. The bakery prepares them for so much more.
“My students come at a disadvantage ... so they really have to shine,” he said. “There’s lots of jobs out there for entry-level work, and it doesn’t have to be a bakery. We’re just training them how to work.”