A slice of pizza heaven nears opening day in Philly
July 20, 2012By Elizabeth Fiedler
The world's first pizza museum and restaurant is expected to open its doors this summer in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood.
At the storefront along Frankford Avenue, Ryan Anderson is at work helping design and build Pizza Brain and he looks the part: his paint-splattered T-shirt is under suspenders, and a tape measure hangs from his jeans.
"Here is the first case that we've started to build," he says. "We're gonna have little peepholes that you can look through and those window boxes that are going through it on the inside turn into shelves to display memorabilia."
Pizza Brain's visitors will get to see pieces of Brian Dwyer's massive pizza memorabilia collection ... the world's largest, as certified by the book of Guinness World Records.
Dwyer, a tall guy with a shock of wavy red hair, stood between a case and a table full of memorabilia. He started picking up items such as a picture of a lunging great white shark with teeth made of pizza slices.
"You've got a troll that says 'I love pizza' on his or her apron," he says. "This is Nightmare Pizza, it's a human's face trapped inside a pepperoni pizza -- it's made of rubber. We're going to hide this in the back of a case in a peephole."
Anderson said an important part of his work is finding imaginative ways to present the collection.
"All that I want is to not make this place look like an Applebee's or a Hard Rock Cafe or a Cracker Barrel with ephemera just like stapled to the walls," he explains. "I want people to come here and discover memorabilia displayed in ways that they wouldn't normally expect it to be seen.
"You sit in a new place and you find different things," he says.
Pizza Brian Dwyer agreed that it's not enough to open the first pizza museum.
"We want this place to feel like a interactive art installation. Mystery, I think, is a huge part of what coming to Pizza Brain is going to be. Instead of just putting it all in cases that are very linear and sterile -- where you just kind of stare at it and say 'There's a thing' and walk away -- this is like, 'Ohh, what's this little thing? Whoa!' There's a pizza face!'"
Dwyer said he's surprised a pizza museum doesn't already exist.