Tamie Wallake likes to think her new restaurant was divinely inspired.

Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria, which has opened at 5600 Gender Road near Canal Winchester, does more than feed people -- it helps employ the homeless and recovering drug addicts.

"I just know God cares about people," Wallake said. "And he wants us to care about people."

Tim Reis, 23, is an employee at Olive Branch. He said he spent years on the street, where he met his wife, Shelby Harrison. They now have a son, Jaxson, and Reis wants to be responsible and set a good example.

"I love it," he said of his job. "It's a lot easier than I thought it was going to be."

Wallake and her husband, Bryan, recently opened the 5,000-square-foot restaurant with food -- and sales -- also in mind.

A year ago, without any experience in the pizza business, they attended the Goodfellas Pizza School of New York to learn how to make quality pie.

Their pizzas start with hand-tossed dough, which is available in 10-inch sizes only, though they have plans to offer larger ones in the future.

"You can tell the difference," she said of the fresh dough. "It's worth the work. We do it every day."

Customers choose from one of five sauces and more than 30 ingredients. The pizza is cooked in 90 seconds in a brick oven with a rotating deck, and it emerges with a crispy crust.

Olive Branch's coffee supplier is Columbus-based One Line Coffee. The restaurant offers medium and dark roasts ($2 for 12 ounces and $2.50 for 16 ounces), plus an entire selection of coffee drinks -- espresso, latte, mochas, iced coffee, pour-overs and cold brews.

Wallake said it was no accident coffee is a focal point of Olive Branch: The couple own two Heaven Sent Children's Academy day cares, which enroll 200 children total, in the same complex. She said parents dropping off or picking up their children often need a cup of joe.

Another key component of the business is gelato from Coppa Gelato in Westerville.

"It's the best pizza," Wallake said. "It's the best gelato. It's the best coffee. These are expensive products. We could have gone for cheap but we went for excellent."

The interior has three different spaces: the large dining room, a coffee house with couches and a TV and a smaller community room.

"It's a place where you can eat in 10 minutes but you want to hang out for an hour," Wallake said.

She said the couple have big plans for the restaurant. They're already planting vegetables and, soon, herbs in a garden out back.

The Wallakes will donate 20 percent of Olive Branch's proceeds to charity, including their own: Breaking the Chains Ranch, the couple's nonprofit that occupies 30 acres on state Route 674.

When completed in a year or so, it will serve the needy with housing, farming and equine therapy.

Olive Branch is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary