Meet the Wharton grad student dropping free pizzas out of his Kitchener apartment window

kitchener (WPVI) – A Wharton student’s love for pizza and its community has spawned a unique effort serving the needy in Kitchener.

Ben Berman, 27, is from Portland, Maine and will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School next year.

But before Berman moved to town in 2019, he was often on the road as a consultant, which meant he mostly ate on the go and slept away from his cozy bed.

“When I got to Kitchener last summer, I started cooking a lot more and started eating pizza pretty quickly,” Berman said in an interview with Action News. “When COVID started in March, I had a large amount of dough that I wanted to make for my friends. It was clear that week that we should no longer gather as a large group.”

So Berman developed a pulley system to safely deliver the goods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What he now calls a “pizza drop” began as a 40-foot rope dragging a few pieces of pizza in a plastic bag to his hungry friends below. The system now consists of a well-structured box and a full cake.

The pizzas all come from Berman’s two-story apartment in Center City. The recipe contains an important ingredient: love.

“It’s all about doing everything with love. I use really good ingredients and make time for every pizza. When I think of my pizza, I think of something thin and crispy with a bit of chewing on the top crust. Not too.” lots of cheese, not too much sauce, the right amount of everything, everything gets a little bit of basil, a little bit of garlic oil on the crust before it runs out, and a little note about it just to let people know they made a difference “said Berman.

As the demand from his friends and the community increased, Berman tweaked his mission a little and launched Good Pizza. He’s now kneading enough dough for around 20 different pizzas for a day’s delivery.

Kitchenerns sign up for Berman’s Instagram page through a lottery system, and donations go to charity. Berman pays for all pizza ingredients out of his own pocket and there are no fees for the customer. All donations go directly to the local organizations Philabundance and Project HOME.

“The original idea was that I could either give $ 100 of my own dollars directly to one of these organizations, or maybe spend $ 100 on pizza ingredients. In the meantime, I can make someone smile by making them a delicious pizza. and maybe I can turn that $ 100 into $ 200, 300, or 500, “he said.

The Wharton student says he is now dropping free pizzas twice a month and hundreds of people flock to his enrollment form in hopes of getting a taste of his Kitchener apartment-style cake.

“It was incredibly exciting, but I know it’s frustrating for people. We have over 900 people signed up for each of the last lotteries and I only make 20 cakes a night. After that, I find my oven starts smoking and…” gives up a little, “jokes Berman.

And just as things were starting to cook, Good Pizza got the warmth it needed. Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, known for his popular pizza reviews, visited Berman in November. The visit alone brought new life to Berman’s organization.

“Having the Barstool people here and then doing a video really really opened up our following and made a lot of money. They were willing to fit in up to a certain amount – Barstool donated $ 7,500,” Berman said.

Most recently, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle of the Kitchener 76ers visited him, who offered to donate the next $ 5,000 to Good Pizza. Berman expects a total of $ 28,000 to be raised if the Sixers match goal is met.

“It was just a great time for me to sit down with them and hear about their charity in the community. I hope we meet this challenge for good pizza and everyone in the Kitchener community who wants to come and try it Keeping going To bring together donations like Tobias and Matisse, I would like to have you with me, “said Berman.

Berman says he has received donations from people all over the world and is just humble about the outpouring of love.

“I started this for two reasons, firstly, I wanted to make people smile in a pretty shitty year for a lot of people, and pizza was my way of doing that … and the other is because it became a platform Give back to the people who really need it this year, “Berman said.

Berman is no stranger to the kitchen either. He says he grew up cooking with his mother and was even on the Food Network.

“I started a food truck company called Mainly Burgers in college in Portland, Maine, and ran that company for a number of years. I started it with one of my best friends in the world and grew that company together to three trucks and 60 Employees. We performed on the Food Network and he still runs this company with his family. I’m just a huge fan of them now, “he said.

When you order one of his pizzas, you can expect more than just a homemade cake, every delivery comes with a special message.

“I just sit down 30 minutes before I start making pizza and I hopefully write a few notes on note cards to people who just say, ‘Thank you for making a difference today.’ Ultimately, for me, this is mostly an opportunity to make people smile, “said Berman.

Berman isn’t sure what the future holds for Good Pizza, but right now he’s hoping the Kitchenerns will just keep smiling and helping each other.

“What’s next for Good Pizza is just trying to capitalize on this amazing dynamic and keep raising money for these organizations that are doing a really incredible job … I’m having so much fun right now,” he says. “I’ll keep making pizza until I feed each of you who go to the lotteries.”

This week Good Pizza also dropped a number of merchandise and all proceeds go to charity too. If you’re craving some pizza, Berman says he’s making his last drop of the year this Friday, December 18, 2020.

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