Little Caesars’ Love Kitchen rolls into New Bedford to
dish out slices of goodness to Sister Rose House residents

By Dave Jolivet

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — The story behind the Little Caesars pizza chain is quite fascinating. It began as a family-owned, single store in Detroit in 1959. Since then, it has become one of the top five pizza chains in the world with shops in 24 countries and territories across the globe, and in all 50 U.S. States.

A unique quality of the “Pizza, Pizza” business is that after all these years, and the advent of a plethora of pizza delivery chains, Little Caesars continues to be carry-out only. The chain has also been considered in the industry as one of the best value pizza restaurants in the county. The sum of all these parts has made the chain very successful over the last 50 years.


But success isn’t the only goal of the chain. Little Caesars has made it a mission to help those in need for decades now, starting, in 1985, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a big-rig pizza kitchen on wheels that travels the country to serve those in need, thanks to the corporation and the franchise owners and employees.

The Little Caesars Love Kitchen rolled into New Bedford on Monday, May 13 and parked itself at the Sister Rose House, part of the Diocese of Fall River’s Catholic Social Services since 2010. The emergency shelter for men, staffed 24 hours a day, offers men in need supportive services like job skills training, budgeting information, and access to mental health and other services, with the goal of helping its clients gain long-term sustainability while helping them out of their homelessness situations.

“This is just an amazing thing to happen to us,” Sister Rose House program manager Ray Duarte told The Anchor. “Out of the many places that serve people in need, Little Caesars chose us. I’m thrilled.”

The Love Kitchen was searching for a facility that serves a certain amount of people on average, and the Sister Rose House fit the bill perfectly. “We average about 75 to 115, but occasionally (we’re) up to 200,” said Duarte.

It was a CSS employee who has only been employed for two months who had a hand in getting the Love Kitchen to Sister Rose House. Liz Gonzalez has been working at the Donovan House in New Bedford, another program offered by Catholic Social Services, which is a sober transitional housing facility, serving up to 12 women and their children. Gonzalez also has been working for Little Caesars for several years. 

“The company asked my supervisor if there were any places in New Bedford serving individuals and we both mentioned the Sister Rose House,” Gonzalez told The Anchor as she was helping to serve pizza to the guests in the house’s downstairs hall. “Little Caesars is a great company that cares about its employees and people in need, and so does CSS. So this was a perfect match. It feels good to be helping people who need it.”

Duarte said the truck was originally scheduled to come in April, but mechanical issues delayed it for a month. “But we did have a chance to spread the word via newspapers and through the New Bedford Homeless Service Provider Network,” he said. “Word travels fast and we have received many positive emails leading up to this.”

Since its inception in 1985, the Love Kitchen has served more than three million people in need and has been a presence at large disasters in the U.S. providing relief to thousands of victims and rescue workers such as the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Sandy, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in 2001 and the 2018 wildfires in California.

The Anchor had the opportunity to speak with the driver of the big orange rig, Jeff O’Meara from Detroit, Mich. “This is such a wonderful thing that Little Caesars does,” he said. “The corporation has two Love Kitchen trucks, one handling the eastern part of the country, and the other the west. I’ve been doing this for six years now. My brother was in corporate and I told him that if ever an opening became available to let me know, and here I am. It’s incredible for a large company to give back to the community. Words can’t describe what it means to help out so many people in need. I can’t imagine doing anything but this. We meet a lot of people in need, and we meet a lot of grateful people who really appreciate what we’re doing.”

In a recent press release, Little Caesars’ president and CEO David Scrivano said, “We know that it’s important to reach out to the communities where we do business and help make a difference. It is very rewarding to work with local charities and organizations to make sure we give back … as much as we can.”

For a few hours the hulking orange semi gobbled up much of the Sister Rose House parking lot. And for a few hours, a group of local people gobbled up slices of Little Caesars pizza — for some a rare treat in an otherwise difficult situation.

And for those few hours, a major worldwide corporation got together with local folks who work for area Little Caesars and social workers to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s what social justice and community service is all about.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts