NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / September 18, 2020 / Hakki’s Pizza founder and CEO, Hakki Akdeniz is now ready for his next conquest: the frozen pizza industry within 39,000 locations in the USA. This project, just like his pizzeria businesses in New York, was born with Hakki’s spirit of giving back to the less fortunate – a portion of the sales goes to charity to end homelessness in the US, so that they are able to dream big and get out of the situation that they are in. Hakki Akdeniz was born in Turkey in 1980. During his childhood, he could often be seen helping his family work in a bakery in a local town. While he worked in this store, he learned how to make dough.
Although his family had very little, Hakki Akdeniz would learn how to put this skill to use. Eventually, Hakki decided to leave Turkey and moved to Canada in 1997. He lived there for four years then moved to New York City in 2001. Upon his arrival in NYC, he got a job at a local pizzeria in town. In 2009, he left that store and founded his own pizza shop located in Manhattan. It was called Hakki Pizza until it was eventually renamed Champion Pizza. Hakki has since garnered 4.8 million followers on Instagram.
His generosity has even been recognized by the New York State Assembly as well as the Office of the Manhattan Borough, whose president underlined his “commitment to improve the city and vibrantly enriching the community.” In 2019 he was the recipient of the Beacon Award among a total of 12 awards, one given by Mayor Bill de Blasio, one given by Senator Chuck Schumer, and two given by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, namely the “Person of the Year” award and the “Man of the Year” award given for his success as an entrepreneur who has given back to those in need. Just last month, Forbes also cited Akdeniz as being one of the most inspiring immigration stories. In addition to his popular pizza shops, which are known to have been visited by a number of famous Hollywood celebrities, Akdeniz is also revered for his charitable efforts in both feeding and supporting New York’s homeless community and for giving aid to those in need, such as when he helped provide two trucks of supplies to Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria hit. During Hurricane Sandy, Hakki opened his heart and business to provide the community with free pizzas and drinks over the span of a few days. Over the years, Akdeniz has been featured on television and radio shows, in newspapers and magazines and a documentary film on his story may be making the festival circuit soon.
Hakki Akdeniz is the physical embodiment of the American Dream. While he is often known by just one name, Hakki, and has become one of the most well-known philanthropists and restaurateurs in New York City. He went from nothing to building himself into the success that he is today. His path to get where he is today is nothing short of inspiring, making him a role model for people all over the world.
What makes this project special is Hakki’s own story of being a homeless man himself 20 years ago. “It was really tough, and much tougher than people think to be homeless. But Bowery Mission helped me get my life on track as well as made me who I am today. it’s my turn to support those who are in need just like me at that time” Hakki says, “Hakki’s Pizza is our mission, living through giving.”
Hakki serves free pizzas every Wednesday on 34th street of Manhattan and donates pizzas to the very shelter that he once called home. “I really enjoy this project so much because it gives me positive energy every day. Because of the tough days I spent, I am able to give back now, and connect with so many wonderful people who have the same purposes as me. It’s such a blessing,” says Hakki.
“Don’t give to get, give to inspire others to give. I want people to think ‘if he can do it, I can do it too!’ I am so proud that my giving back is expanding nationally through the frozen pizza project, Hakki’s. At one point in 2001, I didn’t have money to buy a slice of pizza. From 2010 to 2018, I donated over two hundred thousand slices to others in need. What’s important is to put God first and believe in yourself. Never give up on your dream because your life is yours and only you can make things happen! I will continue working hard and hope it inspires others to give!”
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