Childhood Friends Open Restaurant That Only Hires Ex-convicts, Giving Them A Second Chance

Restaurant Hires Only Ex-Convicts

Childhood friends Kurt Evans and Muhammad Abdul-Hadid have embarked on a unique mission in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by establishing Down North Pizza, a restaurant that not only serves delicious Detroit-style pizza but also exclusively employs individuals with previous incarceration experiences.

Their goal is twofold: to provide opportunities for individuals seeking to turn their lives around and to combat recidivism in Black communities.

Evans, a renowned chef known for his End Mass Incarceration Dinner series, has a long history of community engagement.

Teaming up with lifelong friend Abdul-Hadid, they combined their love for pizza with their commitment to social justice, launching Down North Pizza in March 2021.

Beyond serving delectable pizza, Evans and Abdul-Hadid are making a significant impact on the community through their restaurant.

Recognizing the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated individuals in securing employment, they made a conscious decision to hire exclusively from this demographic.

By providing employment opportunities, they aim to break the cycle of mass incarceration and reduce recidivism rates.

With a team of eight employees who have undergone kitchen training, Down North Pizza not only offers employment but also provides short-term housing solutions.

Some employees receive six months of free rent in the upstairs apartment, enabling them to save money for permanent housing.

Their head chef, Michael Carter, himself a former felon, expresses gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the mission, emphasizing the importance of pushing for social justice.

The success of Down North Pizza is evident, with the restaurant selling 800 pizzas in just three days and continuing to attract lines of supportive customers.

Evans and Abdul-Hadid aspire to inspire other Black-owned businesses to find innovative ways to give back to their communities, demonstrating the transformative power of entrepreneurship in creating positive social change.

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