We all we got!
Childhood friends opened a pizzeria in Philadelphia exclusively employing formerly incarcerated individuals, Good Morning America reports.
Kurt Evans and Muhammed Abdul-Hadi are the owners of Down North Pizza, a new restaurant located in North Philadelphia that opened up last month. While the shop is serving up great pizza, they’re also doing a lot to serve their community, choosing to staff their new business exclusively with formerly incarcerated people.
“We’re changing the quality of life for our community by being the hand that feeds and teaching others to do the same,” Evans told reporters.
The pair was inspired to merge their love of pizza with their passion for the community by focusing on a cause close to their heart. Both Evans and Abdul-Hadi have family and friends who have been impacted by the carceral system, struggling to find employment even after they’ve served their time. The duo figured providing those in need with jobs was the perfect way to reduce the recidivism rate in their city.
In addition to offering employment, Down North Pizza also provides a fair wage and culinary career opportunities for re-entry citizens, teaching them how to prepare their signature Detroit-style pizzas. Evans and Abdul-Hadi offer short-term housing units rent-free for employees in need of housing for six months in the apartment above the restaurant. Their goal is to give returning citizens skills they can use to re-enter society while also offering them an opportunity to make and save some funds.
“We just want to meet people where they’re at and help them along the way. It was very important for us to help these people coming from the system and break the cycle of mass incarceration,” Evans said.
One of their first hires, Michael Carter, had previous experience working in the kitchen and testified that the mission of Down North was much larger than just cooking pizza.
“I fit the criteria because of my own story. I was locked up in 2015, about two weeks before my youngest daughter was born. I was happy to be a part of the mission and be able to push the line for social justice,” Carter said.
If you’d like to support a #BlackOwnedBusiness— Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (@CMThomasPHL) March 23, 2021
AND you like to #KeepItLocal
AND you support employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people
AND you like pizza - you’ve got to check out @DownPizza in Strawberry Mansion! (@ALDIANews) https://t.co/VTcUmowk5z
If you’re in or close to Philly, make sure you support the homie @Kurt_Cook’s new pizza shop @DownPizza.— Brittany B | Rebranded® Résumé Queen (@bossy_britt) March 26, 2021
The pizza is so good! The spicy crab fries with actual crab meat? Everything.
And bean pie ice cream!
Plus they exclusively hire returning citizens!
Peace y’all @DownPizza the best pizza in Philly off the strength of they mission— Rob Sonder☁️ (@Thatbull_Rob) April 11, 2021
The childhood friends hope their story inspires other business owners to find ways to give back to the communities that sustain their businesses.
“If you want to get involved, you can start by partnering with local organizations that are like-minded. Usually, the community is speaking to you about what it needs; you just have to listen,” Evans said.
Down North Pizza is open Thursday through Sunday, 12 pm until they sell out.
Thank you for your service, Kurt and Muhammed. Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Amurri Lauren/GMA