At Meat and Bread, good sandwiches are a family affair
Eric Hudson's son was born only a month before his new Calgary restaurant opened
Don't let the lineup at Meat and Bread deter you — with just four sandwiches and a couple of sides on the menu, you'll eat your way through it quickly.
Eric Hudson has been a fan of the Vancouver eatery for years, which became well known for its simple menu featuring roasted porchetta, sliced and loaded onto long focaccia buns.
The Calgary location is one of the company's first franchises — the other is in Seattle. It's an opportunity Hudson jumped on after working in the restaurant industry for years, most recently as a butcher at Second to None Meats, Pigeonhole and Model Milk.
"At the restaurants I didn't like the hours, and at the butcher shops I missed the dinner rush—the adrenaline of doing service," Hudson says.
"This gives me both — I can butcher, get the rush of interacting with people, and still get home to my family."
Hudson and his wife, Bao, have a two-month-old baby named Oscar. He was born in mid-May and the restaurant opened mid-June.
Hudson worked at Meat and Bread in Vancouver for a month to get a sense of the space, and liked that it was very chef-driven.
"We can pull some good cooks from the city who want a break from those 16 hour days," he says.
With relatively short hours — they're open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday — it's a manageable schedule for the entire staff.
'This is it'
Having moved from Toronto a decade ago, Hudson loves the bustle of downtown Calgary.
"We walked into the place and were like, 'This is it,'" he says of their sunny corner space in the Grain Exchange Building.
It's kitty-corner to the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, which housed a camera store since 1996. With its tall windows and sandstone exterior, it was a perfect fit for Meat and Bread.
Hudson's wife, Bao Nhan, is an architect, and her sister, Nam Mitchell, is an interior designer.
The two took the reins and revamped the space, exposing original tile floors from the '50s and constructing a herringbone counter to tie into the aesthetic of other Meat and Bread locations.
The focus is on rustic, meaty sandwiches. They go through six to eight porchetta rolls a day, which are hacked apart in the front window, Meat and Bread-style, and served with crackling skin and salsa verde.
There's also Alberta beef with arugula, pickled mushrooms and onions and a horseradish cream sauce, buffalo chicken with creamy celery slaw, and a daily special that changes constantly, except for the meatball sandwich they run every Friday.
'We like selling out'
Soup and salad changes every day, too.
"It gives the cooks some creativity, but it's a small menu — you don't have to come in and work your butt off for 80 different menu items," Hudson says.
It also streamlines the ordering process, and keeps storage space to a minimum.
"Everything comes in fresh every day and goes out every day. We like selling out."
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