Community, Art, Pizza

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Community, Art, Pizza

By Andrew Abernathy

In Winnebago, Illinois, Brian Weavel, the owner of Anna’s Pizza & Pasta, has called on some small-town spirit to revamp his pizzeria’s interior. In a joint effort led by Weavel, the village’s fine arts council and the local high school’s art department, budding artists will put their craft to the test while painting an Italian-style mural on Anna’s walls. “The Winnebago Fine Arts Council approached me and asked if I would be okay with doing this, and of course I said Yes!” Weavel said. “This is a win-win situation.”

Weavel will provide the art supplies but the painters are volunteering. Students and members of the arts council have drawn up plans for what Anna’s will look like postmakeover. “Everyone says, ‘Are you nervous about this? You don’t know what these kids are capable of,’” he notes. “But I say, ‘Are you kidding?’ You have to see the energy these kids have about the project.”

Indeed, community-oriented projects aren’t new for this pizzeria. Weavel frequently lets high school cheerleaders and sports teams take the helm of the business to raise money for trips and supplies. He usually awards a group a percentage of sales and all tips during a designated evening. And the efforts are paying off: Anna’s Pizza & Pasta received the 2009 Village of Winnebago Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award. Weavel himself—a member of multiple committees and boards in the school district—won the Citizen of the Year Award in 2009 for his role in community building. “As a business, it’s easy ""to get involved,” he says. “This is what I like to do. This is how I give back.”