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  • Writer's pictureMarKei Photo & Video

Front Step Project: Pizza Man

Welcome to another Columbia Heights Front Step Project brought to you by MarKei Photo & Video. I began this initiative to facilitate connecting the humans in my city, to celebrate our diversity, and share our challenges during this pandemic and beyond. If you’re enjoying this series, please share. To support my photography, like & follow MarKei (on FB, IG, Twitter, &/or YouTube). To be notified of new posts, subscribe at We are still offering socially distant photography in MN, so feel free to reach out!

Chris, the owner, on the right

I always kind of hoped that the Front Step Project would also lead to the opportunity to also highlight our local businesses. Well, it did! AND… that business has to do with PIZZA, so I’m pretty pleased.

This week’s Front Step Project is for Pizza Man on Central and 41st Ave. Chris Kolstad is the owner. Chris’ background may surprise you. Chris had always worked two or three jobs his entire life spanning industries such as radio, sports, mental health, and running businesses. He had previously worked at a daycare in Brooklyn Park which was located next to a Pizza Man. He began working at the restaurant doing security and cooking instead since he “freaked out the dads” at the daycare. The owner of the Pizza Man in Crystal as well as the rights to Pizza Man, had purchased our CoHi location to eventually pass on to a designated individual but that plan fell through. So in November 2019, the owner asked Chris if he’d want to buy our CoHi restaurant. Chris couldn’t pass it up!

Although Chris had never specifically ran a restaurant before, he felt it was a good blend of what he’s done. Presently Pizza Man has 8 individuals on payroll. Chris is proud of the work they’ve done to improve Pizza Man’s reputation from the most recent owner. Chris lives in Brooklyn Park but is in CoHi 10-12 hours every day.

Chris is always looking for ways that Pizza Man can help improve the neighborhood. For example, they’ve been working to help local kids in troubled situations get into better situations. He also values employing folx who need a chance to turn their lives around. Chris is very pro-restoration. He admits he has three felony accounts himself. “I’ve been there”, he says. He believes we can always improve, grow, and change. He shared that the only reason he’s learned what he has is because he’s done a lot of “dumb shit”. He only had to learn to pick himself up from the bottom. I love his honesty, vulnerability, and lack of being apologetic for being yet another messy human (because… we all are!)

During the pandemic they’ve been busier than they anticipated, partly because they had just started to find their rhythm with advertising and had begun to rebuild their relationship with the community. Chris is very excited to continue to grow the business. Chris tells me about how he loves knowing and supporting the members of our community. He admits, y’all are paying their bills! Chris says, “don’t be ashamed of what you do or how you do it; just take care of your family”. To contact Chris at Pizza Man, email !


#FRONTSTEPPROJECT: If YOU want to be featured, message me! It is free for Columbia Heights residents. Donations to SACA Food Shelf & Thrift Store are encouraged. Tell your neighbor who may not be on social media.


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