Pizza Veterano is a pizza restaurant founded by ATO veterans in Kyiv in December 2015.
Over the four months of its work it has become a popular place in the city both among the war veterans and ordinary Kyivites. Restaurant’s founders – ATO vets Leonid Ostaltsev and Rafail Agayev spoke about their initiative at a press briefing on Thursday, 14 April. “First we intended that our entire personnel would be ATO vets, later we amended this requirement,” explains Ostaltsev. He adds that the veterans returning from the war need social adaptation, so interaction with the non-veterans is crucial for them. “Currently it’s 50/50: there are nine ATO veterans and nine non-veterans,” says Leonid adding that the project aims at helping the returning ATO veterans to adapt socially as well as at helping use the veteran’s potential. According to the founder, some of the veterans had no prior experience in making pizza at all. However having passed the training and two months of work they not only become great cooks but also start delivering master classes on making of pizza. “Our guys are quick learners,” adds Ostaltsev.
Leonid and Rafail knew each other before the war started. Rafail used to work as a chief cook in a network of pizza restaurants. He is now chief cook at “Pizza Veterano”. Neither of the two had prior experience as businessmen.
Vasyl Tuchkov, restaurant administrator explained the restaurant’s initiative “pending pizza”. “Pizza Veterano’s” customers have a chance to buy a pizza that would be later brought to the wounded servicemen staying in hospital or to the volunteer center for servicemen located at Kyiv’s central railway station.
The veterans also said they are regularly organizing master-classes teaching children to cook pizza and children of the fallen servicemen in particular.
“There is a large number of veterans, the state has not enough resources to deal with this problem,” explains Ostaltsev. Answering the question on whether the team plans to expand to the rest of Ukraine’s territory Leonid Ostaltsev confirmed that the idea of the franchise is being worked out at the moment, however requirements need to be strict, he adds. “Fifty percent of staff needs to be veterans, veteran needs to be the head,” Leonid said. As a war vet, he added he would not be taking orders from a non-veteran as a chief. The project is regarded by the public and by the founders themselves as not only a business venture but also a great social adaptation initiative for war veterans.
“Pizza Veterano” team also mentioned that the industry professionals contributed to the restaurant’s development. Chief cook of Capo di Monte Roberto Armaroli shared his experience as to cooking of pasta while restaurateur Viola Kim held training for waiters and restaurant management.
To follow the restaurant’s news check the Facebook page of Pizza Veterano.