Lehman’s Pizzeria is officially open, providing delicious and affordable pizza, pastas, salad, desserts, and more for the Woodlawn community. The 1st Avenue North location is located right next to Regions near one of Birmingham’s most exciting intersections, not far from the six large murals recently created during the Magic City Mural Festival

The restaurant is the brainchild of Lehman Harris, a culinary school graduate with a passion for the Woodlawn neighborhood that he’s been actively involved in for over a decade. It features a variety of exciting Italian dishes including the famous Lehman’s Pizza and lasagna that’s made from scratch using an old Italian recipe given to him after being handed down in the old country throughout the years.

Fresh ingredients and making sure there is high-quality food on the menu for every dietary restriction are two of the menu’s biggest focuses. Lehman’s sister and brother-in-law are both vegan and have a hard time finding restaurants when coming into town, which helped lead to the pizzeria’s signature cauliflower crust option. The pizzeria also has gluten free pasta options available. 

“We try to play to everybody’s palate,” he explains, “If we don’t serve but one customer a day and put a smile on his face, we’ve done our job.” And it’s easy to put a smile on your face with the experience Lehman has. 

“When I was three years old my dad used to make pizzas for me, and I’ve had an interest ever since then,” he says. He didn’t think he’d be doing this as a living for much of his adult life, but Lehman eventually made the decision to go to culinary school and graduated top of his class in 2015. After that, he spent six years working under Louis Graffeo at Char-House Foods. One day there was a massive order for pizzas, with Louis and Lehman rising up to fill the order. At some point in the blur of dough, marinara, cheese, and toppings, Lehman realized he could happily do this his entire life. He had already built a reputation for his pastas, and the pizzas were just as good.

The decision to open in Woodlawn was the easiest part of the process for Lehman, as he’s already been here for years. He ran a gym called Christfit, which was a Crossfit-style gym for teenagers, for seven years before the leaders eventually started families while all the teenagers graduated – “but it was a great run.” Things have come full circle as one of the students, Desmond, now works at Lehman’s Pizzeria. The restaurant also uses ingredients like Graffeo sausage from Char-House Foods, keeping things close with those who helped him rise. 

In addition to the gym, Lehman spent a few years teaching Woodlawn residents “how to feed a family of four for under $10” while working with YWCA and Cooking Light Magazine. The families would come in and learn to cook the meal together, and would take home any leftovers to keep. This 12-week program meant a lot to Lehman and he hopes his pizzeria can offer similar services down the road. 

It’s clear that community is a huge part of why Lehman’s Pizzeria exists. When I first walked in the store for an interview, Lehman was talking to a customer like an old friend and after discussing health gave her a free bottle of his Yummee energy beverage made with healthy ingredients like tumeric, ginger, beets, and blueberries. It’s beyond sales for Lehman – it’s connections and upliftment.

“I just love the Woodlawn area, and I love what I do here. We’re just hoping to bring a different vibe, something new, to the Woodlawn community at affordable prices. We love our residents, we love our community, we love what we do here,” he says.

They are thankful for the support so far, and incredibly excited to introduce new community initiatives in the future! Make sure to support your newest locally-owned restaurant, Birmingham!