Kennesaw set to sanction mural for homegrown NFL quarterback Justin Fields

06/04/2021 — Kennesaw, Georgia — Pisano’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen co-owners Michael Judvytis (from left), Matthew Hsiao and Joseph Hsiao pose for a portrait in front of a mural of NFL quarterback and Kennesaw native Justin Fields that is displayed on the exterior of their restaurant in Kennesaw, Friday, June 4, 2021.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Caption
06/04/2021 — Kennesaw, Georgia — Pisano’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen co-owners Michael Judvytis (from left), Matthew Hsiao and Joseph Hsiao pose for a portrait in front of a mural of NFL quarterback and Kennesaw native Justin Fields that is displayed on the exterior of their restaurant in Kennesaw, Friday, June 4, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@aj

A local pizza parlor paid tribute to newly drafted Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, a pro football player with roots in Kennesaw. But the restaurant’s salute to the hometown hero bypassed city zoning regulations, resulting in a citation.

Pisano’s Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen painted a mural of Fields on the restaurant’s east wall in April. The eight- by 12-foot image of the Bears rookie donning his new jersey is emblazoned on the brick wall with the caption, “Defeat The Noise. Rule The Quiet.”

The pizza parlor debuted the art display April 7, just days before Fields was selected in the NFL draft. They notified city officials of their plans to install the mural in early April, but moved forward with those plans before going through the permitting process.

Now Pisano’s Pizzeria is facing a June 8 court date and the prospect of being slapped with a $1,000 fine. So far city officials seem intent on reducing the fine and credit the restaurant owners with reversing course and seeking the necessary approvals.

On Monday, Kennesaw’s mayor and City Council members are expected to vote on a permit that would officially sanction the public artwork and allow it to remain on the pizzeria’s wall. The meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 2529 J.O. Stephenson Ave.

Michael Judvytis, general manager of the Pisano’s Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen, said many of his employees know Fields personally and attended Harrison High with the now 22-year-old. He said many of Fields’ family members have frequented the restaurant.

“It’s definitely a tribute to somebody local that made it big in the sports world,” Judvytis said. “He worked hard. Went to play for UGA, went to play for Ohio State and then got drafted to the NFL. So this is just kind of like the American dream come true.”

Fields is a Kennesaw native who made his mark as a quarterback at Harrison. The Chicago Bears selected Fields as the 11th overall pick on draft night April 28.

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Before going pro, Fields began his collegiate career as a Georgia Bulldog. He transferred to Ohio State for his final two seasons. Fields led the Buckeyes to a 20-2 record and two consecutive College Football Playoff bowl game appearances.

After his draft selection, Judvytis said artists completed the restaurant’s mural, adding the Chicago Bears jersey in navy blue and orange.

Kennesaw council members discussed the painting during a work session Tuesday night.

City zoning requirements call for all public art displays to be approved by Kennesaw’s Art and Culture commission, the Historic Preservation commission and City Council before they can be showcased.

City officials said Pisano’s installed the mural without getting clearance from any of those committees. Code enforcement cited the restaurant for the code violation.

A court hearing for that citation is scheduled to be held June 8 where the restaurant’s owners could face up to a $1,000 fine. But City Attorney Randall Bentley said that fine would likely be reduced because the restaurant is now going through the proper permitting process.

The Art and Culture commission and the Historic Preservation commission have both now approved the mural. The painting was “well received” by both boards, officials said Tuesday.

The mural was part of a promotional campaign by Bose, known for audio products and headphones, which partnered with muralist company Muros to create the hometown paintings for Fields, along with top overall pick Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the No. 2 pick. The NFL and Nike also partnered with select restaurants as part of the campaign.

Fields posted the painting on his Instagram page as part of his partnership with Bose.

Judvytis said Fields is “Somebody local that shows if you work hard and persevere, you can make it all the way to the highest leagues. Shows that somebody from a small town can make it big and be an inspiration to all the young athletes in the area.”

06/04/2021 — Kennesaw, Georgia — A mural of NFL quarterback and Kennesaw native Justin Fields is displayed on the exterior of Pisano’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen in Kennesaw, Friday, June 4, 2021.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Caption
06/04/2021 — Kennesaw, Georgia — A mural of NFL quarterback and Kennesaw native Justin Fields is displayed on the exterior of Pisano’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen in Kennesaw, Friday, June 4, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com