Trevett Hooper has been thinking a lot this summer about the future of Butterjoint, the Oakland restaurant he owns with his wife Sarah. “So much is still changing. The nature of the work changes. And that affects people’s eating habits. The open or closed schools are changing people’s eating habits. If it felt like that [pandemic] It would be a couple of weeks, it was ‘Let’s sit down with our families and discover new things to cook with.’ And with Butterjoint we had ingredients and ideas early on that helped expose people to new things to cook. But we’re starting to get busy again and I think we want a little more comfort. People may also feel a little bored cooking at home, ”he says.
The Hoopers have made adjustments throughout the year, starting in February by merging Legume Bistro, Butterjoint, and Pie For Breakfast into a stylish, casual restaurant called Butterjoint All Day. However, that concept didn’t get beyond the test kitchen phase prior to the impact of COVID-19. Instead, with a small team that includes chef Csilla Thackray, pastry chef Robin Cumpston and bar manager Austin Ansell, the Hoopers have handled the past five months as well as possible. “There’s a lot going on with the flow. We look at our own lives every day and think about what we need, ”says Trevett Hooper.
The initial linchpin was a multimodal model that combined aspects of its restaurant with goods that are normally found in a high-end market. Thackray and Hooper prepared frozen foods like pierogi, chicken pot pie, and stuffed cabbage, as well as seasonal specialties like corn and sweet onion soup. They offered homemade pantry staples like yogurt, lard, and kimchi, as well as items from partners like Twin Brooks Dairy milk and maple syrup from Paul Family Farms. Add an assortment of pastries and pies, ready-to-drink cocktails, and delicious beer. All in all, it was a smart way to get through the summer.
With the effects of the pandemic still uncertain, Hooper believed that the current system, which has many moving parts and only allows hot, ready-to-eat meals on Fridays and Saturdays, is unsustainable. Diners in Pittsburgh want something slimmer.
This autumn they will be combined as two units under the Butterjoint banner: Butterjoint Bakery in the former Pie For Breakfast area and Butterjoint in the former Legume / Butterjoint kitchen.
Hooper says he’s renovating the Pie For Breakfast kitchen, replacing the flat-top and range with more baking appliances. “It’s an opportunity to continue with the pie for breakfast theme, even if it’s not called that. It’s going to be a pretty cake-heavy dessert menu, ”he says, noting that since it’s all served as a take away, it’s more of a neighborhood bakery with items like scones and breakfast pastries to take away than to sit on. Down Coffee Shop, which he originally planned for the room.
He adds a bread program that he had only given serious thought to when Geof Cummings, owner of Five Points Artisan Bakeshop, persuaded him to do so. The two have been friends for about two decades, and Cummings even helped Hooper develop some of the recipes and techniques used at Butterjoint Bakery. “I am a generalist. I can bake bread, but I can talk to him for 10 minutes and it feels like I’m shaving a month before my research and development, ”says Hooper.
The focus of the bread program is on American-style loaves such as a well-structured white sandwich bread made from ciabatta dough. “It’s just good to cut bread, the kind I always want to have at home,” says Hooper.
On the butterjoint side, Thackray offers a range of ready-to-eat dishes such as hearty salads, pies and chicken peppers. Some of the frozen prepared products, such as B. meatballs, also remain on the menu.
And here’s some big news: Butterjoint is changing its hamburger. Always one of the best in Pittsburgh, the Butterjoint Burger is a thicker, gourmet, tavern-style burger. This is going away for the time being in favor of the Butterjoint Smashburger, which will be available as a single and double patty. According to Hooper, there will be four or five compound burger permutations available daily, as well as a do-it-yourself option using Butterjoint’s various ferments, sauces, and toppings.
Hooper says he’s considering the option of opening up the spacious former legume room for indoor meals. Although he has no immediate plans, he is monitoring the trajectory of the virus in Allegheny and neighboring counties, as well as nationally. He says that it depends: “As long as my employees feel safe, we will. I will not put anyone in a position where they would feel unsafe. I feel more comfortable with the idea now than in June. “
214 N. Craig St., Oakland; 412 / 621-2700, butterjoint.com