A new chili company has been making its way around Pittsburgh and causing quite the stir – and not just because the chili is delicious.
Revival Chili is a Pittsburgh-based chili company, currently in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to open a food truck that will roll throughout Pittsburgh. Although they don’t have a permanent truck right now, there’s a chance you’ve already seen them, since the company has been serving Pittsburgh as a pop-up since last year, and has been present at events like the Braddock Library Chili Cook Off, and Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night.
In addition to Revial’s mission of serving Pittsburghers some of the best chili they’ve ever tasted, Revival Chili has another mission in mind: To provide second chances to those in need. The company hires previously incarcerated citizens from throughout Pittsburgh, and provides them with job training, personal mentoring, and hands-on experience.
On its Indiegogo campaign, Revival Chili writes that of the 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison in the United States this year, two-thirds will find themselves back behind bars within three years, and the rest will face unemployment rates 30% higher than the general public.
Jordan Robarge, the founder of Revival Chili, says he understands these implications himself, after struggling to find employment after college because of an underage drinking charge. He had always been a big fan of chili, and dreamed of sharing his passion for the food, along with his secret recipe, with others. When he finally decided to move forward on his dream of launching his own company, it had grown from simply serving delicious chili, to serving chili for a cause.
“What we really want to do is create an opportunity for ex-cons to utilize the entrepreneurial skills they might already have. We want to create opportunity for others so they can start their own businesses,” says Robarge.
While the company does provide employment for reentering citizens, the main goals is to mentor them on how to run a business, with the hopes that they can move on, and start their own business one day. Thus, Robarge says, creating even more job opportunities in the long run.
Revival’s chili bowls begin with a base, with options like basmati rice, chickpea pasta, cornbread, chips and fries. There four chili options, ranging from classic beef and spicy chicken, to a vegan variety. Finally the chili is topped with a choice of fixings, like cheese, sour cream, jalapeno, avocado and cilantro.
The company also sources their produce from local farms, and plans on using solar panels on the truck for their energy needs.
Robarge says that Revival Chili is really about bringing Pittsburghers from all walks of life together – the delicious chili is just a bonus.
“Chili has always been about community for me,” says Robarge. “I would make it in my fraternity, and we would all be in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and just having a great time together. You always make more than you need, and even when my parents would make it bringing to a family that just had a kid, or to church.”
Revival Chili can be supported on their Indiegogo page.