More than one year ago, Brian "Brain" Dwyer earned the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of pizza-related items. The buzz for Pizza Brain, his Kensington pizza museum and restaurant, has been feverishly building ever since. Finally, this weekend, the wait is over.
Dwyer, 28, speaks like a pizza-crazed, but enlightened, shaman. He says sage things like "Pizza is all around us, all the time," and considers himself a participant-observer of pizza culture's historical development. His odd collection began in 2009, with a Fat Boys LP (on the cover, the Brooklyn rappers enjoy a slice), but his pizza quest started much earlier.
"I knew from a very young age that pizza's a happy place, so I pursued it," says Dwyer. "There were a lot of homemade bagel pizzas at home; there are many photos of little me, with a sparkle in my eyes, eating pizza with mom. That's where it started, and maybe then I was baptized in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese's."
Before he became Pizza Brain's Head of Business Development, Michael Carter randomly met Dwyer in a coffee shop, and Dwyer invited him to see the collection. "My first thought was just, wow!" remembers Carter. "The collection transcends so many different genres and social groups; when you see how many cultures have expressed creativity through the text of pizza, it's just incredible."
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The space, which is connected to Little Baby's Ice Cream World Headquarters, is "a restaurant, but also a non-linear, living art installation," says Dwyer. He envisions a tourist destination much like The Barnes Foundation, but, of course, much stranger.
"East Kensington's already a mysterious, weird place," says Dwyer, "and we're definitely keeping it weird. I don't fully understand the power of pizza, I'm merely trying to facilitate it. I just want to open a door that invites people into the experience."