Deaf family opens pizza shop Pi00a, offers opportunities for deaf employees in LA

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — We all have our favorite pizza restaurants across Southern California. But one mom-and-pop shop in L.A. is providing a deaf-accessible work-space, while making some top-tier pizza too.

Pi00a was founded by deaf couple Melody and Russ Stein. One of their goals was to increase opportunity for deaf employees and provide a deaf-accessible workspace for them to thrive.

It started as a pizza shop in San Francisco, then became a food truck, and now, along with their children Rylan and Taysia, they’ve opened a ghost kitchen in Los Angeles.

Melody hit on the idea of merging her culture, she’s from Hong Kong, with her husband’s – he grew up in New York. Their fusion style Neapolitan pizzas have become a hit.

“I’ve noticed more Neapolitan pizza styles popping up but not with the Asian influence, so I want to infuse where I come from, I’ve always thought Asian food is way more flavorful, so I thought why can’t I infuse that with Italian food? ” Melody said.

But their business plan included much more than the best pizza dough and sauces. They wanted to help the deaf community.

“When we decided to start the business, we wanted to continue our mission of hiring deaf people to work with us. And not only just employing them, but we wanted to create leadership positions where they could move up,” said Melody. “I always believe we all have something to contribute and maybe people don’t have that skill set quite yet but that’s why we can provide training. When we make sure to label that it is deaf owned so people see that our mission is to hire deaf employees. And I hope when they read the label they’ll feel inspired and become more supportive of our business and our concept.”

Melody’s son Rylan is proud of what is parents have been able to do. “In Italy, there’s VPN certification which basically shows you are making Neapolitan pizzas the right way. And my parents were the first deaf people to be VPN certified. It means a lot.”

Sabrina Ferguson is one of their employees and says the opportunity means a lot.

“I’ve seen a lot of potential in myself. I’ve grown a lot. And I’ve shown the deaf can work in different positions, we’ve not limited,” said Ferguson. “And at the same time I’m training other employees to grow.”

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