The influence that his brother had on him to follow his dreams and make a difference in his community began with starting his own business, a Vista pizza shop called PizzaManiac.

Passionate. That is the word one of his employees, Cole Miller, uses to describe him. It seems to be a recurring trend; most people referring to him as a man who has deep passion for the city he was raised in and the people in his life.

Optimistic. That is the word he uses to describe himself. He prides himself on his ability to “appreciate everyone for who they are.” One of his favorite sayings reads “no matter who they are every single person knows something that you don’t know.”

His parents met by chance, when his dad, originally from San Francisco, followed a buddy down to Southern

Pizza Maniac owner Ben Phillips sitting down

Ben Philips explaining his passion for helping his community on March 17, 2019. Sukhi Heumann / Impact

California and lived in a house in Del Mar. His mom moved to Minnesota from Ireland when she was 18-years-old. She later ended up in California, where the two met and started their family.

Born at Tri-City hospital in 1980, Ben Phillips was born into what he described as a perfect family.

Growing up in Vista, he recalls the good neighborhoods, the farm town vibe, and riding his bike with his younger brother to the local pizza shops. When asked to describe his childhood experience, the first words that came to Philips’ mind were, “pretty amazing.” He holds a special place in his heart for the amount of effort his mom always put into Christmas, the bond he had with his brother growing up, and the quiet town of Vista.

He didn’t have much family that lived around him during his childhood, with the majority of his mom’s side of the family living in Minnesota. So, the Phillips family of four was a close-knit one, and valued their quality family time greatly.

Throughout his adolescence, Phillips mentioned that he had always been particularly independent. In addition to his close relationship with his family, his mom and dad never failed to remind him that he could be and do whatever he wanted to. Phillips’ mom wanted her children to always be reminded of how fortunate they were to live the life they did.

As a kid, Phillips wanted to be a elementary school science teacher, and spent a couple of his teenage years babysitting and being involved in his local church. “…I always liked taking care of kids and I just love that environment of like the elementary school thing.”

Although he had plans for a teaching career, Phillips said that he never felt pressured the attend college.

Needless to say, Phillips has never been afraid to take risks, and credits a lot of his success to the inspiration that his younger brother gave him, who was able to open his own tattoo shop by the age of 22. “That was big on me wanting to progress and really make something of myself and just be part of the community.”

When asked how Phillips would like to be remembered, he paused for a minute. He began to explain how he’d like to be known as the guy who wasn’t afraid to do what he wanted to, when he wanted to do it. Which explains why he decided to leave home at age 20 and join a traveling punk rock band, just for the experience.