Communication Service for the Deaf Names Deaf-Owned Mozzeria First Business Partner of its Social Venture Fund - First of its Kind in the United States

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Communication Service for the Deaf names San Francisco-based Mozzeria - a Deaf-owned Neopolitan pizzeria - the first business partner of its new Social Venture Fund. CSD's investment will help expand the Mozzeria brand into a franchise - believed to be the first Deaf-owned and operated U.S. franchise business - and support the development of training materials in American Sign Language.

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) Names Deaf-Owned Mozzeria First Business Partner of Its Social Venture Fund – the First of Its Kind in the United States

CSD Investment to Establish First Deaf-Owned and Operated U.S. Franchise

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) announced today that Mozzeria – a Deaf-owned Neapolitan pizzeria - is the first-ever business partner of its Social Venture Fund, with the goal to expand the Mozzeria brand into a franchise. Based in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, Mozzeria opened in 2011 as the city’s first Deaf-owned restaurant and remains one of only a handful of Deaf-run businesses today in the United States.

The CSD Social Venture Fund is the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for Deaf-owned businesses in the United States, according to CSD. CSD created this multi-million dollar fund in 2017 to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among Deaf Americans. CSD is the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and cultivating greater opportunity for millions of Deaf people worldwide.

Melody Stein created Mozzeria with her husband Russ who also is Deaf. Their business soon expanded to include catering, delivery and mobile food trucks. “The franchise idea became apparent to us as more Deaf visitors from all across the United States and other countries expressed the wish that they had a Mozzeria in their own hometowns,” said the Steins. “We saw an opportunity with CSD’s Venture Fund to extend our business model and increase the Deaf workforce. With CSD’s support we now have the opportunity to significantly grow and expand our business and create more opportunities for Deaf businessowners.”

“The best way to combat the unacceptable and massive employment gap for Deaf Americans is to showcase the exceptional talents and successes of people who are Deaf,” said CSD Chief Executive Officer Chris Soukup. “This is one of the primary reasons we established our fund and I can think of no better first-recipient than Mozzeria. Without question, Melody and Russ are an extraordinary success story and an inspiration to all of us.”

As part of the CSD fund and incubator program, Mozzeria will receive capital funding and resource support, as well as develop training materials in American Sign Language (ASL) modeled on the success of Mozzeria’s San Francisco location. Additional fund partners will be named by CSD at a later date.

Key fund selection criteria include: creating an impact and aligning with CSD’s commitment to prosperity among Deaf people everywhere; having the potential to grow and be scalable; demonstrating leadership through a clear and far-reaching vision; and offering innovative products and services that provide a unique spin on traditional approaches, or that are entirely new innovations.

“There is a clear and demonstrated need for this kind support within the Deaf community, as the Fund received 50 proposals during the first round,” said Soukup.

About the Steins

Melody was born in Hong Kong and learned the business from her parents who owned restaurants in Hong Kong and San Francisco. Russ is a third-generation New Yorker. Russ and Melody met while attending Gallaudet University and bonded over a common love of food. When they first moved to San Francisco in 1995, Russ realized he missed the Italian restaurants and pizzerias of New York. Any way you slice it, the rest is history.

About Mozzeria

Mozzeria has an all Deaf staff and nearly everything in the restaurant was designed or built by Deaf people, including all the artwork on the walls. For more information on the restaurant, catering services, food truck and menu items please visit

About CSD

For more information on the CSD Social Venture Fund and CSD please visit


Alana Cowan

Brandi Rarus
Communication Service for the Deaf

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