It cost this James Beard-nominated chef less than $20K to open a restaurant in Pittsburgh

Opening next Wednesday, Bitter Ends Luncheonette in Bloomfield cost less than $20,000 to get up and running — and may be one of the smallest restaurants in the city.

So don’t assume it’s the kind of place to bring the family for Sunday brunch. It’s better to stop in at the 10-seat takeout/lunch counter/bakery/cafe for a pastry or to order a sandwich to go. 

Becca Hegarty — former chef de cuisine under Sonja Finn at Cafe Carnegie in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland  — has teamed with Jason “Jodo” Oddo and Lou DeVito to open the luncheonette side of Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette. They’ll be serving coffee, pastries, sandwiches and sides Wednesdays through Sundays. Hours are 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

The trio took over the space that had been DJ’s Sandwich Shoppe at 4613 Liberty Ave. They have redone  the walls with green milk-glass tiles and brought in vintage furniture and art that provide the space an eclectic style. The most expensive item in the build-out was the oven, an internet deal for a MIWE-brand with convection, a deck, a proofer and steam for bread baking.

Mr. Oddo and Ms. Hegarty, a James Beard-nominated “Rising Star Chef,” started the Bitter Ends garden last season. On a half-acre farm in Verona, they’re growing esoteric varietals of beets, turnips and chicories like puntarelle, escarole and radicchio. While certain menu items will come from the farm, others will be procured from Who Cooks For You Farm in New Bethlehem, Brindle Farms in Mechanicsburg and Farm in Natrona Heights.

As Ms. Hegarty does at her stand at the Bloomfield farmers market, she’ll be selling items like egg sandwiches with braised greens and Jamison Farm lamb sausage ($11) on bread baked in-house at the luncheonette. She’ll also have pastries like olive oil apple cake (her grandmother’s recipe), sticky buns, scones and doughnuts. This Saturday is the last day for Bitter Ends at the Saturday market. 

Ms. Hegarty trained as a pastry chef at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md., worked in pastry at the award-winning Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore and for Ms. Finn at both Cafe Carnegie and Dinette in East Liberty. 

She emphasizes that Bitter Ends Luncheonette “isn’t a traditional restaurant.” It’s a low-volume spot with few seats, a passion-project DIY endeavor that allows for showing off great ingredients.

As far as opening a restaurant at such a low cost, some of it’s luck and some of it’s the city. 

“That’s what makes Pittsburgh cool,” she says

Melissa McCart:; Instagram @postgazettefood; Facebook @postgazettefood


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