For the most part, the menu, with offerings of cheese, pepperoni, and fig and prosciutto toppings, was enticing.
The exception, at least in the eyes of 9-year-old Keontaee, was vegetable related.
“Veggies on a pizza?,” he asked, mainly to himself. “Who puts veggies on a pizza? I want the pepperoni.”
“OK,” replied Katie Schilling, the Posada staffer pulling impromptu double duty as a maitre d.’ “Go over there and tell that man, ’I’d like a pepperoni pizza.”
“That man,” or more appropriately, “The Man,” at least for this Friday afternoon hour, was Westley Latka, owner of SToKD Pizza, a wood-fired food truck that transforms orders like Keontaee’s into a delicious pie in 90 seconds flat.
“You like pepperoni pizza, bud?,” Latka directed at Keontaee. “Yeah! Great choice.”
And before you could say, “251.7 million pounds of pepperoni are consumed every year in the U.S. just from pizza,” Keontaee, as well as his twin brothers, were enjoying a Latka creation in the courtyard of their home, the Elko Emergency Family Shelter.
Looking for a way to give back to the community he recently returned to, Latka connected with his friend Schilling, who serves as Posada’s leasing and property manager.
With little hesitation, the Posada staff elected to direct Latka’s generosity to the Elko shelter, home to families with children ranging in age from infants to pre-teens.
“These are families who come to us because they are homeless, camping out, living in vehicles, with their children,” Schilling said. “So there’s no greater place to be for a pizza party: especially with a wood-fired stove, which these children wouldn’t normally have the chance to experience.”
Latka, a Pueblo native, recently returned to his hometown after firing up Denver and Durango with his custom-crafted delicacies made with products imported from Italy.
“We started here in Pueblo at the beginning of the year,” said Latka, who owns the venture with his wife, Bre. “At first, COVID affected us, but now it’s turning around and we’re actually getting more business because of it.
“A lot of weddings are switching from indoor to outdoor, and we also do a lot of private catering. As a mobile unit, we can go anywhere.”
LaTanya Yarbrough, case manager for the Elko shelter, said the dine-in pizza fete, complete with karaoke, is one way Posada helps enrich the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, are no stranger to the harsher realities of life.
“This is the second event we’ve done this year,” Yarbrough said. “We did a ’movie night’ last month, and the kids really enjoyed it.
“We are doing these things to try to keep the kids busy. They’ve been stuck in this small shelter, without a lot to do. So we’re trying to get them out and give them something they can enjoy.”
And by the looks of the exuberant “thumbs up” Keontaee flashed in between bites of his pizza — as well as the admirable karaoke skills he boasted on cuts like “Old Town Road” — there was plenty of enjoyment to go around.
As Latka customized pie after pie for the Elko shelter children and their parents, he occasionally took a peek at the joyful scene playing out in the courtyard.
“It feels awesome to see everyone having a good time,” Latka said.
“This is what it’s all about: giving back.”
To learn more about SToKD Pizza, call 369-5757.
Chieftain reporter Jon Pompia can be reached by email at [email protected] or at twitter.com/jpompia. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow