In another installment of its People in Your Neighborhood series, The RVP has posted an interview with Joe Fugere, the founder of Tutta Bella:
When Tutta Bella founder Joe Fugere says he’s passionate about the role of business in positive social change, he’s not kidding.
Ten years ago, before Columbia City was all the rage, Joe took an old building on the northeast corner of Rainier Avenue South and South Hudson Street and turned it into the Northwest’s first certified Neapolitan pizzeria, also known as the Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant in Southeast Seattle. Since then he’s opened three more wildly successful restaurants in Seattle and one in Issaquah. All of Joe’s employees — including hourly workers — have received health insurance since 2008 — years before it was mandated by Obamacare.
“My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner, because the unexpected consequences have been unbelievably positive,” he told Radius last year. “I learned that nothing trumps employee health and happiness. Our turnover is way below industry average, and it’s so great to see employees getting regular check-ups and displaying big bright smiles.”
In 2010, when President Obama traveled to Seattle to meet with several small business owners for a discussion about strengthening the economy and creating jobs, Joe was invited to participate in the discussion (above).
This week, he was kind enough to answer a few questions for your RVP’s People in Your Neighborhood column, a space dedicated to highlighting the unsung heroes of the south-end community.
Click here to read the full interview with Fugere and get some insight into the owner of one of the neighborhood’s cornerstone businesses.