A pizzeria run by young autistic people received financial support from Zschimmer & Schwarz on the occasion of the company’s 125th anniversary
A restaurant run by young autistic people: what sounds like an impracticable idea at first has become a reality in Italy. On 1 May, PizzAut, the first pizzeria run by young people on the autism spectrum, opened in Cassina de’ Pecchi near Milan. As part of the donation campaign to mark the 125th anniversary of Zschimmer & Schwarz, for which all employees worldwide were asked to suggest possible donation projects from their region, the company had contributed 15,000 euros to this project. The proposal was submitted by employees of the Italian subsidiary Bregaglio, which is based in Biassono, not far from Milan: Lara Beretta, Viviana Branacato, Rosy Cipri, Elena Gallo, Pier Mario Lambrughi, Simone Augusto Lombardi, Cristina Minelle, Nadia Pederiva, Francesca Ragusa, Annamaria Ratti, Serenella Rivolta, Nadia Salvi, Pietro Signorelli, Elena Toni and Katia Tudisco.
Autistic people continue to be excluded from many areas of society – including the working world. “Especially in the catering industry, young autistic people rarely find a place, as it can be difficult for them to be around many people, or some might have a problem, for example, with touching soggy pizza dough,” says Nico Acampora, founder of the PizzAut project and father of an autistic boy. “However, that’s not a problem for us: we’ve found the right job for everyone – whether in the kitchen or as a waiter.”
The restaurant is tailored precisely to the needs and requirements of autistic people: from the materials and colours used to the design of the furniture to the lighting and the kitchen equipment. For example, there is a conveyor oven in the kitchen whose temperature and baking time can be precisely set in advance – so no pizza can be forgotten in the oven and burn. Many people with autism are gluten intolerant. Thus, there is also a separate area for the preparation of gluten-free dishes – which is, of course, also an advantage for all other guests who are on a gluten-free diet. The overall design of the restaurant therefore not only benefits the staff but also all visitors who are looking for a place where they can spend time together while enjoying delicious food.
In 2019, the shareholders of the Zschimmer & Schwarz Group started a special charitable programme on the occasion of the company’s 125-year anniversary: the 1,400 employees across 16 countries on five continents were asked to present local initiatives that the company could support with a donation.
“PizzAut” is currently one of 14 charitable projects across Europe supported by Zschimmer & Schwarz with a total sum of around 200,000 euros. “For more than 125 years, our company has represented a philosophy that always puts people first”, explains Monika Börner, shareholder of the Zschimmer & Schwarz Group. “Therefore, we try to give something valuable back to society and involve ourselves in projects that deliver direct and sustainable effects at our business locations.”
More information about the project can be found at https://www.pizzaut.it.