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.”
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.”