NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) — It was supposed to be a one-time fundraiser, but it's turned into a constant calling. Clean Socks Hope started in 2007 in New Albany to help the homeless. It's done that and so much more in the years since. The latest venture is not only feeding the hungry, but fueling an entire community.
8th Street Pizza is not your regular restaurant. It's pay what you can pizza that serves with every slice.
"What you see is doctors and lawyers and nurses and regular folks sitting next to the homeless and those who can't afford to pay who are willing to just love on people, biblically and socially. So, it's a beautiful thing,” Clean Socks Hope Executive Director Jeff Minton said. "For us, we were really trying to make this a home away from home, and for those that don't have homes, it's sometimes the only place they can go."
Jeff Minton is the man behind the mission. Clean Socks Hope now has seven programs or "microchurches" that focus on providing hope in the community. When the nonprofit outgrew its location, it went looking for a new spot and landed at the now 8th Street Pizza building. It includes a low-income food cooperative, a Christmas store, an addiction recovery program, and a chapter for Sleep In Heavenly Peace which builds beds for kids in need. That's where all of the pizza profits go.
"We don't do handouts, but what we do do is offer a place to come and do the work you need to get out of whatever problems you have,” Minton said. "It's not about the food. The food is really secondary to what we do here in all honesty. That's relationships and community and local places that people can come that have been ostracized by every other entity in this neighborhood for whatever reason."
Starting a restaurant is no easy task, especially when you don't require people to pay. They may not always do dollars, but Minton said it makes perfect sense.
"It is an absolute horrible business model, but it is a great ministry model,” Minton said.
Minton said customers who can pay often donate double, which makes all the difference. It also helps that he's no stranger to the slice.
"I worked for Dominoes. I started when I was 19-years-old, and worked there for 20 years. I ended up being a franchisee for Dominoes in Middlesboro, Kentucky,” Minton said.
That dose of destiny topped with people's generosity has transformed the once abandoned space into a pretty perfect place.
"It's beyond our wildest dreams now,” Minton said.
8th Street Pizza is open Wednesday through Friday. It will also be open Saturday nights starting in mid-November. Minton hopes that will give people heading to the white flag shelters in the winter more of a chance to get a hot dinner. They're already thinking of expanding to more locations. The restaurant has helped more than 1200 people so far.
Wednesday: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
ADDRESS: 800 E. 8th Street- New Albany, Indiana
PHONE NUMBER: (502) 645-6974