Social initiative of ATO soldiers, Pizza Veterano, creates franchise to open similar cafés in other cities


Kyiv, April 14, 2016. Pizza Veterano, a social project by ATO veterans will soon have a franchise. It will be possible to open similar restaurants on franchising terms in other cities of Ukraine, said Leonid Ostaltsev, founder of the restaurant, ATO veteran, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) in the framework of UCMC’s project “Spokesperson of peaceful life”. He said the conditions required to get the franchise as well as the rules to run the venue will be strict. “There are standards of we set at Pizza Veterano and the franchising enterprises need to meet them. Fifty percent of staff will definitely need to be combat veterans, the restaurants need to be headed by a veteran as well, otherwise the project’s meaning is lost,” explained Ostaltsev.

He also noted that one of the reasons why it was hard for him and his brothers-in-arms to get a job after the ATO was that they could not imagine themselves at an ordinary working place. “If anyone who was not fighting will start telling me that I am doing my work in a wrong way, I would not tolerate that as we have different understanding of the world […]. The project idea is that we are all equal, you fought, I did, we all fought, it’s great, let’s start working now,” explained the founder of the pizza restaurant. Leonid Ostaltsev noted that their team comprises nine combat veterans and nine staff members who have not taken part in combat actions. There are also several non-staff members including economists, accountant and lawyer.

According to the Ostaltsev, the project’s idea is to “help those returning from war to adjust” to peaceful life. “It also seeks to help unlock the potential that the guys – returning veterans – have in a constructive manner,” said Leonid Ostaltsev. He noted that apart from him and the chief cook Rafail Agayev – both knew each other before the war started – no one of the team knew how to cook. Instead the new guys are skillfully conducting master classes for children already two months after they get to work. “People who are returning from the war are learning and adapting very quickly, they demonstrate cool results,” emphasized the founder of the pizza restaurant.

Rafail Agayev, chief cook of Pizza Veterano restaurant, said that the venue usually conducts cooking workshops for children including for children of the fallen servicemen. They are usually held on Saturdays and Sundays twice a day – at 12.30 and at 14.30. It is possible to register children for it over the Facebook page of the restaurant. Leonid Ostaltsev added that master classes for children are not only a pleasure for the children but are also of interest to the ATO veterans. Communication with children makes positive impact on emotional state that is also part of the adaptation.

According to the founder of the pizza restaurant the project is exactly what was missing in the society. “There is a large number of servicemen, the state does not have enough resources, time and possibly staff to deal with social rehabilitation, adaptation and employment,” he noted. He emphasized that they “are not putting a single kopeck in advertising – it is of a principle.” The popularity of the pizza place proves that it is in demand.

Customers of Pizza Veterano also have an opportunity to make their social contribution by paying the so-called “pending pizza”. “Pending option is an opportunity for people who want to make something good and useful. People come, pay the pizza, it is being prepared and delivered to the wounded in hospitals and also to the soldiers in the transit center at the railway station,” explained administrator of Pizza Veterano Vasyl Tuchkov.