Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Papa Joe's

Right now I'm in Erie, Pennsylvania getting ready to head down to Butler to do a couple of presentations. We left last night so we could have a liesurely days travel. As we get older we have the distinct desire to be kinder to ourselves. Upon checking into the hotel we picked up some delivery menus from local restaurants. They had the usual choice between cultures - Italian Versus Chinese.

We see maybe a thousand of these menus over the course of a year and they are all tiresomely similar. But one, here in the stack, really stuck out. It's for a place called Papa Joe's Pepperoni Cafe. The menu looks like it was designed with care. There is a lovely graphic of the sun, moon and stars. You know, without going further, that hippies had something to do with the founding of Papa Joe's.

What was remarkable was the selection held within - firstly lets look at the toppings, the list includes all the usual plus:

sweet potato, black beans, eggplant, asparagus and corn

Further they have the usual choices of meat versus vegetarian - and their vegetarian is pretty much like other vegetarian pizzas from other restaurants around the globe. But ... look at these two choices:

Ranchero Vegano (the vegan treat with heat) fresh dough topped with ranchero sauce, black beans, corn, pineapple, tomato, green peppers and onion

Vegan Demise - topped with our own hummus, extra garlic and oil, curried sweet potato, tomato and onion

OK, now that's almost obscene.

So, what's the point?

Accessibility, diversity and a willingness to welcome all. The restaurant doesn't make any big deal in the write up on the cover that they welcome those with a variety of diets and a variety of tastes. They just do. They don't separate the listing into meat, vegetarian and vegan, they just present their bill of fare without any real fanfare. Amazing. Freaking amazing.

I love it when I find, somewhere, by happy accident that someone has bothered to think about the vastness of the community, the needs of all and attempted to make a place for everyone at the table.

Papa Joe's is to me a good example of what it is to be responsible and thoughtful.

Cool, huh?


I wrote the above and then just before publishing the post a thought occurred to me. What if I write this and it turns out that Papa Joe's isn't wheelchair accessible. OOPS. So I scheduled this for publication in 20 minutes and then went away to search the restaurant on the web. I discovered not only is it wheelchair accessible but it is a distribution point for the local gay press as well.

Accessibility is an attitude.


FAB said...

It's amazing how easy it really is to consider diversity when people get over the whole "idea" of it.Next time I'm in Erie I will have to check out papa joe's.

By the way, we can't wait to see you in Butler!

Shan said...

Mmm, yum...Papa Joe is my hero.

andrea said...

But do they have a gluten-free pizza crust?


Kei said...

Sounds like Papa Joe's has it all together. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

That Ranchero pizza made my mouth water! Too bad I'm way out of their delivery area. (Texas) And, they like us gay folks too!?! They are almost too good to be true. Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to our neck of the woods--(Butler). Where will you be speaking?
Jacob's mom

Dave Hingsburger said...

I'm speaking at BCCC ... does that make sense to you?

Anonymous said...

How was it???

I am reading...many days after the post with mouth watering and belly complaining!!!

Penny L. Richards said...

Oooh, I've been to Erie, I think you got very lucky finding Papa Joe's. I think we ate in a quite decent Greek place on our last visit, a few years back.