Chef Joey Hilty Is Having A Field Day At The Cafe In Lawrenceville
In addition to its eatery, the collaborative workplace offers diverse programs and activities.
After 2½ years of pandemic gloom and doom, Chef Joey Hilty was ready for a little, lighthearted fun.
So, the owner of Lawrenceville’s The Vandal joined forces with Partnered Company, a boutique developer and operator of community-driven real estate projects, to create Field Day. The collaborative workplace, eatery and community hub is at 3706 Butler St.
Think back to your elementary school’s field day; that glorious respite from the traditional classroom grind that, although structured, gave you a sense of fun and freedom. Now, imagine doing that as a responsible adult. That’s the idea behind Field Day.
As food and beverage director, Hilty runs The Cafe. Located on the ground floor of the 30,000-square-foot building, it’s a fast-casual spot where grub is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The doors open at 8 a.m., when folks can grab coffee and set up their laptops at a table or in one of the comfy lounge spaces until 4 p.m. There’s also a retail area in the front where you can pick up fresh bouquets, house plants and other home goods from local purveyors.
Hilty wanted to offer daytime crowds the same kind of elevated fare they’d find in the neighborhood after the sun goes down and popular restaurants (like The Vandal) heat up.
“It’s a market-driven menu with a focus on sandwiches, salads and grain bowls; quick lunch-type stuff, but with a much higher quality of sourcing than what you’d expect,” says Hilty, who started cranking out the unpretentious eats in August. “We have a lot of freedom to play around with things.”
The menu will evolve with the seasons and the availability of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. On my recent visit, there were seven sandwiches and a variety of breakfast pastries to choose from.
I opted for the BLTA, a new spin on the classic bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich that includes avocado and charred corn aioli on thick slices of toast. It was a deliciously messy meal. Apologies to the people working around me while I wolfed it down.
For dessert I had yet another piece of toast, but this one was topped with cream cheese and fresh figs that reminded me of little Demogorgons from “Stranger Things.” My pop culture nerdiness does not take a lunch break; it becomes lunch.
Other sandos I saw people enjoying included the Spanish tuna, soft-boiled egg, salsa verde, capers and red onions on a baguette. The roast pork is Hilty’s take on a Cuban: a gooey meld of ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon mustard.
Earlier this month, Hilty hosted a sandwich-making class with a focus on the Italian sub. For two hours in the second-floor kitchen, he dished on the origins of the hero, its regional differences and ingredients.
These types of small (between 10 to 20 people), educational foodie events occur monthly. Keep an eye on Field Day’s social media channels for updates.
“We like the idea of featuring something you won’t experience here as well as Pittsburgh favorites,” says Zachary Ciccone, a Field Day partner and co-founder of Beauty Shoppe, the network of coworking spaces around Pittsburgh that blossomed into Lawrenceville’s Field Day.
Hilty and Ciccone had planned to collaborate on a food concept several years ago, but the pandemic squashed those dreams. The business partners are excited to expand Field Day’s culinary offerings in the future.
For people who want a little more privacy than The Cafe has to offer, there are public reservations and day passes available for the second floor’s private offices, workstations, conference rooms and lounge spaces. Field Day also has different membership levels.
For $250 a month, Social members get unlimited 24/7 access to all Field Day facilities and amenities, priority booking for workshops and events, sporting and wellness clubs, boardroom catering and house accounts.
The Workplace members also receive 24/7 use of facilities, amenities and hospitality services, kitchen supplies, conference technology and packaging and mail services. Workplace memberships start at $375 a month for a desk or $500 a month for an office and scale depending on studio and team size.
All Field Day members can use showers and lockers, indoor bicycle parking and a 12-spot parking garage, which is available by reservation as well.
There are currently 160 members.
During warm-weather months, the rooftop is lined with communal tables, umbrellas and plants for al fresco business meetings and yoga classes with a bird’s-eye view. Over the summer, Field Day partnered with Trace Brewing and Creatives Drink on a series of happy hour parties. A new rooftop event series will roll out in the spring of 2023.
“Our club is rooted in workplace, food and beverage and lifestyle programs,” Ciccone says. “All of our programs are currently free and our cafe is open to the public. Our mission is to be as inclusive as possible, so we’re trying to tear down barriers. That’s the future of the workplace. Food and beverage is the foundation.”