Chef Kurt Evans Kicks off Opening Fundraiser for Down North Pizza®, during Black Restaurant Week in Philly

Philly locals, foodies and pizza lovers can start dreaming again about the day they get to enjoy a delicious slice of pizza at the soon-to-open Down North Pizza®, helmed by Philly native, Chef Kurt Evans.  Evans and the Down North Pizza crew are kicking off their first major fundraiser, during Black Restaurant Week – Philadelphia, October 16-25. Their goal is to raise enough funds to officially open the doors of the mission-led neighborhood pizza joint, in December 2020. The “Everybody Eats” virtual fundraiser kicked off on October 20.

“We self-funded the restaurant purchase and build out, now we are seeking help financing the mission to get the doors open and ovens going,” said Chef Evans. “Launching a fundraiser gives us the opportunity to circumvent some of the issues faced by new Black restaurateurs, such as a disproportionate lack of access to working business capital and loans,” he said.  “Having Down North Pizza take a part in ‘Black Restaurant Week’, provides us with an opportunity to share the story of our mission-led restaurant, which is focused on reducing recidivism rates within the Black community, with an audience that is invested and engaged in not only good food but also issues facing our community,” said Evans.

Donations made to the “Everybody Eats” virtual fundraiser will help fund the opening of Down North Pizza and support local Philly community organizations. Supporters will have the opportunity to “buy” virtual pizzas that will be donated and delivered to community organizations in the Philadelphia area, during the week of Thanksgiving to ensure “everybody eats.”  The donations will be collected via the GoFundMe platform. The aim is to “sell” 100 virtual pizzas per day over the course of Black Restaurant Week and through the end of November—in an effort to put a significant dent in their target goal of $100,000 in donations.  The funds raised will help cover the restaurant’s operating costs, fair wages for employees and costs related to housing some of the Down North Pizza staff.

According to Evans, Down North Pizza is no ordinary neighborhood pizza joint—it’s one that marries a clear mission of serving top-quality delicious comfort food with the vision of reducing recidivism rates in Black communities. One way to do that, Evans is betting, is through hiring practices and using the restaurant’s immediate need for staffing.  The team aims to help erase employment barriers faced by formerly incarcerated men and women, by providing culinary career opportunities at a fair wage and with an equitable workplace.  In addition, Evans and the Down North Pizza team will also try to address other complex issues such as a need for stable housing, through a free housing program connected to the operations of the restaurant.

Once opened, Down North Pizza will serve comfort classics such square pizza pies and slices, wings, salads, fries and shakes. Evans will be hyper-focused on sourcing and using top quality local ingredients. The pies and slices will also feature a few more creative topping options than the usual pizza joint such as collard green pesto, short ribs and spicy crab. Giving a nod to Chef Evans’ influences, which include indulgent Southern style cooking.  Classic favorites such as pepperoni, sausage, cheese and healthy options (such as vegan and vegetarian), will also be on the menu.

Down North Pizza is scheduled to open in December 2020 in North Philly, in the city’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, at 2804 Lehigh Avenue.

Source: Down North Pizza

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