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Hungry Pigeon stops serving breakfast and lunch so staff won’t have to work ‘a gazillion hours a week’

After 3½ years of 5:30 a.m. mornings and late nights, “I want my life back," said chef Scott Schroeder,

A montage of breakfast pastries at the Hungry Pigeon from back in 2016.
A montage of breakfast pastries at the Hungry Pigeon from back in 2016.Read moreDAVID SWANSON

No one gets into the restaurant business for cushy hours, especially those who open a chef-driven all-day cafe.

But after 3½ years of 5:30 a.m. mornings and late nights at the Hungry Pigeon, “I want my life back," said chef Scott Schroeder, who owns the acclaimed bar-restaurant at Fourth and Fitzwater Streets in Queen Village with pastry chef Pat O’Malley.

The upshot: The Hungry Pigeon will stop serving Monday-to-Thursday breakfast and lunch, effective Nov. 18. It will be open for dinner every night starting at 5 p.m. and for brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. O’Malley’s signature egg sandwiches, croissants, burgers, and other popular breakfast-lunch items will be available during brunch.

The move, which Schroeder told me was a long time coming and involved sit-downs with their accountant, pains him as much as it excites them over the prospect of not working “a gazillion hours a week.”

“People come in here every single day for breakfast,” he said. “I don’t want to disappoint them. I’m sad and bummed about that. I want to throw up and cry.”

The accountant pointed out that the breakfast-lunch piece of business alone is about $500,000 a year, Schroeder said. But there was a long game at stake: "We want to stay in business and stay healthy, and not just treading water,” he said. “We don’t have time to look up. This place is like a monster. [Because of the early mornings for baking,] it runs like a 24-hour diner. This is a business decision.”

The partners’ first order of business is to bump up dinner and the Pigeon’s reasonably priced wine list. They also have been working, in fits and starts, on a bakery, he said.

They issued this statement:

Since opening in January 2016, we’ve worked hard to create a comfortable and affordable all-day restaurant that welcomes all Philadelphians. Our team could not be more appreciative of the tremendous support you’ve shown us these past four years. So it is with mixed emotions that we announce some changes to how Hungry Pigeon will serve you moving forward.

Don’t worry — we’re not going anywhere! But we are putting a pause on our breakfast and lunch services Monday through Thursday. This was an extremely tough decision for us to make, but it was necessary due to the one thing none of us seems to have enough of: time. Though we can’t share all the details yet, there are some exciting new projects on the horizon for us, and to fully focus our attention on these pursuits, we had to reassess our day-to-day approach.

We understand that this news will be disappointing to our loyal daytime guests, but please know that these changes will provide opportunities for sustainable growth both outside and inside the restaurant. We’ll now have the bandwidth to inject even more creativity and care into our dinner and brunch services. We’re energized and inspired and have so many new ideas we think you’re going to love.