Pizzeria in Downtown San Diego Serving Up New Start for Homeless Youth

The cafe works hand in hand with Urban Street Angels, which runs a youth homeless center in the same building, to offer job training for homeless youth

NBC Universal, Inc.

A unique coalition of organizations is teaming up to address San Diego’s homeless crisis, one slice of pizza at a time.

A downtown cafe called Timmy’s Place opened in early May as a place to offer job training for homeless youth. The cafe on Fifth Street serves pastries and coffee drinks in the morning and globally-inspired pizzas and sandwiches in the afternoon.

“It was really a struggle when I was out on the streets,” said a 22-year-old employee named Jasmine, who has worked at the cafe since it opened.

“Basically throughout my whole life, I've experienced unstable housing, and then at some point last year, got really bad. I was out on the streets with some family, actually,” she said.

Peter Seidler spoke to NBC7’s Catherine Garcia about his “Tuesday Group” that’s working to address the homeless crisis, why he’s optimistic San Diego can make progress and how late night walks help him remember why these efforts are so important to him.

The cafe works hand in hand with Urban Street Angels, which runs a youth homeless center in the same building as the pizzeria. Jasmine is living there while she works at Timmy’s Place.

The entire operation was made possible thanks to a donation from the Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation. Benirschke is a San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer who was a placekicker for the team for a decade. Now, his annual golf tournament raises money for charitable causes.

He and his wife Mary decided some of that money should help start Timmy’s Place.

The Bernirshckes have a son named Timmy who suffered from homelessness and addiction for several years. He has since overcome that addiction and homelessness.

“Our mission is to alleviate the suffering of homelessness. I think ultimately what we do is give hope. And that's what Timmy's Place does,” said Drew Moser, the Executive Director of the Lucky Duck Foundation, which helped create the cafe.

The nonprofit Union of Pan Asian Communities operates a similar café in City Heights, the Neighborhood Café, and will run the day-to-day operations at Timmy’s Place.

“It's people coming together for the right reasons to make an impact with homeless youth,” said UPAC Director Dante Dauz. 

The cafe also doubles as a print shop that can create custom-made t-shirts, tote bags, mugs and more. All with the goal of creating a self-sustaining business within a year that will continue to train young people for years to come.

”Our goal for everything we do, whether it's pizzeria or the print shop, is hiring you for not only just a good paying job, but a sustainable job. Also jobs where you could transfer these skills,” Dauz said.

The Lucky Duck Foundation is asking the public to help cover costs for the first year by “funding a shift.”  A donation of $100 will cover a four-hour shift for a young person to work at Timmy’s.

“I'm dreaming big, honestly, because of Timmy's Place and Urban Street Angels, my future looks really, really great,” Jasmine told NBC 7.

Timmy’s Place is located at 1404 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101. The cafe is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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