Lucky, Divine Pizza Intervention at Timmy’s Place

The chance meetings that occurred when an out-of-town Christian Ministries organization stopped in for more than just lunch
Young Life students listen to a pep talk from Urban Street Angels CEO Eric Lovett outside Timmy’s Place.

Pizza topped with extra providence was recently served at Timmy’s Place.

Timmy’s is a newly-opened restaurant staffed by at-risk youths. The San Diego Sun showed up on a Wednesday afternoon for a working lunch. Arriving simultaneously: a diverse group of 30 visiting students in the Servant Leadership Project run by Young Life.  

I struck up a conversation with Cesar Castillejos, Minneapolis-based director of the Christian Ministry program.

“The students in this program are being trained in servant leadership, spiritual formation and calling, and cultural awareness,” Castillejos says. “This is a healthy disruption in their lives.”

Youngsters aged 17-19 flew to San Diego from all over the country, he says. Alaska. Colorado. Florida. Hawaii. Wisconsin. They stayed at Point Loma Nazarene University for 10 days of service projects and activities all over the region.

Castillejos had heard about Timmy’s Place. The ground-floor restaurant trains and employs the residents of an upstairs youth homeless shelter run by Urban Street Angels.

The eatery was jointly funded by locally idolized, former San Diego Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke and the Lucky Duck Foundation.

“We’d been trying to get in touch with Lucky Duck but our schedules weren’t matching up,” Castillejos says. “So we just came here for lunch and I hoped somebody might be here to tell us about Timmy’s.”

At this point in my conversation with Castillejos, I look up at the restaurant entrance. As if on cue, Lucky Duck Foundation CEO Drew Moser strolls in.

Moser just happens to be in the building to do a shelter tour with Urban Street Angels CEO Eric Lovett and a half dozen members of the Point Loma Rotary Club.

Members of the Point Loma Rotary Club dine at Timmy’s Place.

Lucky Duck is a leading community organization that funds high-impact, homeless-related initiatives. The nonprofit instigates and coordinates social enterprise ideas such as Timmy’s Place.

Castillejos is introduced to Moser. 

“We’ve watched all the videos of you explaining what Timmy’s Place is,” Castillejos effuses.

While the group’s mega order is being prepared in the kitchen, Lovett and Castillejos walk outside the restaurant to chat up the students. Turns out Lovette is a former member of Young Life.

The Urban Street Angels CEO estimates there might be 1,000 unsheltered local youths out on the streets on any given night. He delivers an impromptu, divinely inspired speech to the visiting group about not being overwhelmed by challenges in your life. And stepping up to the plate with confidence in your purpose.

It’s a moving moment. And it happened by accident.

Castillejos is clearly pleased. 

“I couldn’t have planned this any better,” he says.

And then it’s time for pizza.

Timmy’s Place

Rolf and Mary Benirschke at the grand opening of Timmy’s Place.

 Asked to describe Timmy’s Place, Castillejos says: “A pizzeria with a purpose. Serving food and creating opportunities for people who are overlooked. In the big picture of what we are trying to train our student leaders in, Timmy’s Place is the intersection of calling, purpose and serving others.”

The San Diego Sun was also on hand for the grand opening of this inspirational eatery on May 2, 2023. To read that account, go to: Chargers Legend Rolf Benirschke Backs Homeless Youth Enterprise.

The restaurant is named after Rolf and Mary Benirschke’s adopted son, who struggled with homelessness and addiction. Timmy’s Place (1404 Fifth Avenue) is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s worth a visit. You never know who you might meet there. SDSun


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