SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Imagine a place where you can grab a delicious pastry, slurp on an Italian ice and have the money you spend go toward a great cause. Thanks to a new pastry shop in Destiny USA, that kind of place is no longer something you have to imagine.
Our Neighborhood Chef opened on the second floor of the canyon level at Destiny USA in mid-March. Owned and operated by Rev. Curtis Levy and his wife, Maggie, nearly all of the proceeds from the new pastry shop will go to benefit the non-profit the Levies also run, Last House on the Block Ministries.
Founded by Rev. Levy in 2013, Last House on the Block serves to provide transitional housing for individuals dealing with substance abuse, mental health issues and any other number of problems. The mission of the organization is simple, but one key issue was holding it back during its early years.
“Not being government-funded, there was always a financial obligation,” Maggie said. “He’s [Curtis] a visionary. He’s an entrepreneur.”
Thus the idea for Razzle Dazzle Italian Ices, Our Neighborhood Chef’s sister company, was born. Razzle Dazzle began as a cart that the Levies brought around downtown Syracuse and to local festivals. It soon got to a place where the company was successful enough to move into a storefront at the mall. The two stores now sit side-by-side and are stocked with treats from other local businesses, another pillar of Rev. Levy’s vision.
“When the vision came to him to do this, he was like, ‘Gosh, I have these great business, network relationships, let’s allow them to shine’,” Maggie said. “[Let’s] give them an opportunity to be able to be showcased beside their own shop. That’s just how he is. That’s his personality. That’s his character. It’s not really about him”
The Levies currently partner with Biscotti Cafe, Rahnee’s Sweet Addiction and Cathy’s Cookies to provide nearly all of the pastries at Our Neighborhood Chef. The business also cooks its own funnel cakes on-site as a way to diversify its offerings and work toward its ultimate goal for 2019.
“Neighborhood Chef’s purpose is to open up a women’s and children’s house,” Maggie said. “The proceeds will be saved for that.”
Maggie added that she and Curtis hope to have that women’s and children’s house up and running by the end of 2019. If the idea comes to fruition, it would be the fourth house that Last House on the Block operates.