Baking a thousand pizzas is no small job, but Lisa Maclellan is feeling energized. After all, by making food, she was making a difference.
Lisa and her husband, Morgan, own the Your Pie Perimeter pizza restaurant at 123 Perimeter Center West in Dunwoody and have just received the company’s award for community engagement for their local efforts.
Last August, Your Pie founder Drew French brought together his franchise owners at the company’s annual Franchise Fest and challenged them to give 1,000 pies to hungry kids in need. The Maclellans took that challenge and by the end of July, with help from their employees and general manager Andrew Gehrhardt, had reached the goal of 1,000 pies.
“The challenge really resonated with us,” said Lisa. “While it did start at the brand level, it was a really local initiative. It was such a strong expression of our culture that we’ve tried to create here, and the community isn’t just a checkmark on our values system, it’s really something that we believe. It was so neat to have the opportunity to give back to the community we serve. To be able to give back in a positive way, is really special.”
“Here at Your Pie Perimeter, we are nothing without the support of those we serve,” Morgan said. “For us, our guests are more than just customers — they are part of our Your Pie Family.”
The owners reached out on Facebook to its customers to ask where the need was, and the response was overwhelming. They were connected to nonprofit and local organizations through social media, networking with City Council members, and connecting with Karen Shanahan, the director of community service at the Marist School in Brookhaven.
“The owners of Your Pie Perimeter have made hundreds of children happy with their donations of pies,” Shanahan said. “Some of the recipients were children in homes of domestic violence, children whose parents struggle daily to keep food on the table, [and] poor children who were excited to just enjoy a pizza of their own.”
Organizations that Your Pie Perimeter worked with included Family Promise, La Amistad, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Ronald McDonald House and Bright Future Academy. Volunteers would pick up the pies throughout the year from Your Pie to distribute to children and families in need.
Once a week, Your Pie would give fresh, personal pizzas to the families temporarily staying with Family Promise, a network of interfaith organizations working to end homelessness.
During the summer, Your Pie often provided lunches during summer programs at La Amistad, which works to achieve educational excellence and quality of life for Latinos. A volunteer recalled how the kids looked forward to the pizza day with great anticipation.
Your Pie has about 50 locations around the Southeast and specializes in customizable personal pizzas, paninis and salads and a selection of craft beers.
The restaurant, originating in Athens in 2008, was a pivotal meeting spot for Lisa and Morgan while in college at the University of Georgia. After time spent in the corporate world, Morgan looked for an entrepreneurial opportunity, and brought a Your Pie to the Perimeter area in January 2015. He loved how good food and craft beer could bring people together. Now, the couple is franchising a second location in Grant Park, which will open later this fall.
“We love pizza. We love craft beer,” said Lisa. “But we are also about the faith, family, food, fun, which is why we got into all of this, and community plays a big role.”
Another recent fundraiser called for guests to participate by donating $2.50 to provide a lunch and a peach to a child in school through the partnership of Smart Lunch, Smart Kid. The Georgia Peach Council would donate a fresh peach for every Peach Prosciutto pizza donated. The donors got their names listed on the restaurant wall.
“Morgan and I both enjoy being known as the pizza people, but bigger than that, we want to be known as the pizza people that make a more lasting impact than the food you are enjoying in our restaurants,” Lisa said. “That’s through the team we lead, young people we get to mentor, and the guests that come in every day.”
For more about Your Pie, see yourpie.com.