Sean Henninger, the owner of Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria, 605 S. 1st St., has been into LEGO since he was a kid. Three times, he and his parents, who were in the military and stationed in Europe, traveled to the first LEGOLAND in Billund, Denmark.
Now, Henninger is 40 and the owner of the Walker's Point pizzeria and chocolate shop and wants to build large, working clocks made from LEGO to go along with the "Times Square" theme.
To get enough LEGO for his clocks – at this point he plans to build a large grandfather-style clock and an atomic-style clock – he is bartering a large pizza with one or two toppings for one pound of LEGO.
"The cheapest way for me collect LEGO is in trade for pizza," he says.
Henninger has a vintage butcher's scale in the pizzeria and will weigh out the LEGO, but he is flexible about the exchange agreement.
The only thing that needs to be clear is that he is not borrowing the LEGO – all trades are final because the clocks will be permanent fixtures in the eatery. He also cannot accept any knock-off brands like Mega Bloks, because they are not the same size as LEGO.
So far, Henninger says he has lost track of how many LEGO he's collected, but estimates about 30 pounds.
"I've made about 30 pizzas so far," he says.
Henninger plans to start building the clocks in the fall, but still needs quite a few more LEGO to make it happen.
He says some people like the idea at first, but when they actually dig out their LEGO and see them again for the first time in decades they change their minds at the last minute.
"Some decide to keep 'em for future grandchildren," he says.
Henninger has sorted thousands of LEGO already. Earlier this year, he pushed all of the tables together in the restaurant, dumped out the LEGO and sorted them by hand into take-home containers. A couple of customers spontaneously helped him sort.
The only problem he is running into is that most LEGO these days are sold in kits, and not the classic loose brick collections that were popular when Henninger was a kid. Because he is designing the clocks himself, he needs mostly plain LEGO, not those that are a part of a Star Wars or Harry Potter kit. (He is still interested in kits, even though he prefers the plain ones.)
Henninger also plans to host LEGO events for kids in the future. He wants to have afternoon build-offs with pizza prizes.
"The clocks are only the beginning," he says. "There is nothing you can't build from LEGO."
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