Pizza & Burgers opened its doors at 295 E. Gun Hill Rd. roughly four months ago. The same location has been home to two other pizza shops. In 2016, it switched from Joseph’s Pizzeria Restaurant to Gun Hill Pizza Restaurant.
“We feel good in that we are a little different from the rest of the stores in this area,” said Ahmed Alkaify, son of Pizza & Burgers’ owner. “Everybody is focusing on grocery stores and delis, and we’re focusing on giving people a choice.” That choice could include adding “vegetarian options, veggie pizza, [and] veggie burgers.”
The eatery is among the growing number of businesses that have opened along Norwood following a year where many storefronts remained vacant. Businesses have cropped specifically within the Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District.
The BID, stretching from Jerome Avenue, between Mosholu Parkway and East Gun Hill Road, and East Gun Hill Road between Jerome and Webster avenues, helps promote the roughly 200 stores along the corridor. At least seven stores have opened this year, including a Mexican restaurant, children’s clothing store, a barber shop and even a psychic reader.
Three new stores, Fish in a Flash, Salad Saloon, and Mexican Grill are slated to open.
Like Pizza & Burgers, many of these stores focus on bringing something different to the BID. Alkaify emphasized that Pizza & Burgers not only sells pizza, but also burgers. McDonald’s at 3509 Webster Ave. is the nearest burger place to Pizza & Burgers, but even then it’s a big corporation with eateries around the world. The need for local businesses are important to the residents of the BID. “We needed a burger spot around this area and also a pizzeria,” said Alkaify.
Another business bringing something different to the BID, and responding to Norwood’s growing Hispanic population, is Tulcingo Panadería Mexicana, a bakery found at 3421 Jerome Ave. The location was last home to Sam Ho Kitchen, a Chinese food restaurant.
The bakery sells snacks that are typically found in Mexico. Because it’s close to DeWitt Clinton High School, they get a lot of traffic from the students. It opens its doors at 7 a.m. and has become a part of residents’ daily routine.
“A lot of Mexicans, Central Americans, Dominicans, Koreans, and even Chinese come here,” said Andre Guerrero, who works the counter. “They all come here to try the bread and look at all the products that are here.”
While new stores crop up, others have been mainstays for decades. Among them is BX Sports located on 3476 Jerome Ave. “You got everything around here,” said manager Luis Cardona. “Young, old, men, women, everything because you have a school right around here and this is a close knit community.” He added, “We’ve seen businesses come and go, we hire people from the community, and we hire people from outside the community, and in that way we help the area.”