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Muhammad Abdul-Hadi is the founder and owner of Down North Pizza, the mission-driven restaurant that exclusively hires formerly incarcerated individuals and serves up pies with a purpose in the Strawberry Mansion community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Down North Pizza is the culmination of Abdul-Hadi’s 13-year vision as a serial entrepreneur. It’s a concept that has long been ingrained in him; a place where he’s contributing to the economic improvement of underserved communities through excellent food and quality customer service. “What drives me is creating opportunities for the people around me and giving them the tools and resources to succeed. Seeing staff laugh knowing they come from the same struggle but have a life to look forward to and build.”
After graduating from West Philadelphia High School in 2006, Abdul-Hadi — no stranger to the effects of the prison industrial system in his neighborhood— tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit and went on to pursue various leadership roles and business ventures (property management, retail, and real estate development). The West Philly native later pursued higher education, graduating from Temple University in 2018 in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration. Ultimately, his education and work experience gave him invaluable business development skills and a strong network of connections that led him on a dedicated path toward re-imagining a business leader’s role in helping underserved communities.
Through fair wages, innovative hiring practices, and community building, Abdul-Hadi is looking to reduce recidivism rates in the Black community on a wider scale. “We’re building a revolution for the people through business economics by looking to advance everyone, particularly the formerly incarcerated so we can shatter glass ceilings.” Living proof of his own mission, his natural leadership skills teamed with the hunger to always be a student are traits that are endlessly inspired by the entrepreneurs in his family and the legacy he wishes to leave behind.