BEVERLY — Days after two mothers who volunteered to help Auburn Gresham kids stay safe were shot dead, Mothers Against Senseless Killings founder Tamar Manasseh was serving up pizza slices — and a new hope — in another South Side neighborhood.
Peace of Pizza, 1801 W. 95th St. in Beverly, officially opened for business Wednesday night, serving a seemingly endless stream of customers as others danced to sounds of the Michael Damani Trio playing a few feet away.
It was a much-needed day of celebration for Manasseh, whose restaurant grand opening could’ve been delayed by Metra construction.
“A brand new chapter of MASK has been unfolding all week, and this is yet another new chapter,” Manasseh said. “We’ve never had a murder on our block. We’ve never had life end on our corner. And we’ve never actually went into business before. This tragedy really tested our mettle and made us show what we really were made of, and today we get to put something into the community.”
Peace of Pizza‘s profits will aim to help defray the cost of the school Mothers Against Senseless Killings is opening in Englewood later this year.
And Beverly was the perfect place to do that, she said, noting that the neighborhood welcomed Peace of Pizza with open arms.
“People here have been so supportive of us, and so supportive of the idea of helping others. I’m so glad we’re here,” she said. She hopes to expand the model to other locations throughout the city.
At the grand opening, the Beverly Area Planning Association supplied free ice cold beers as volunteers from Tilden High School served up slices of cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and turkey to folks looking to avoid the lines. Later on, guests were treated to a performance from Jeff Jenkins and pit rescue Rosie Rae, stars of the Midnight Circus.
“We have a community that is so richly diverse, and concerned not only about what happens here, but what happens in other communities,” said Grace Kuikman, BAPA spokeswoman. “People are passionate about social justice issues around here. Tamar is a really good fit for the kinds of things we want to support here.”
But what about the pizza?
“It’s fantastic. This is our second trip. It’s better than the last place,” said Susan Baird as her husband, Don, finished his slice. “We came here during the soft opening and we loved it. Better than Giordano’s.”
“It’s really, really good,” said Mic Finney, who volunteered his audio/visual skills for the grand opening. Finney was also drawn to Manasseh’s cause, bringing the students from his mentorship program at Tilden to help.
“It’s like New York City pizza, but better. Not really tavern-style,” another man said as he took his last bite.
Peace of Pizza is open open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.
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