His Grandma Taught Him Home Cookin’ and Their Biscuits Are The Bomb

Wise County Cafe is expected to debut this summer on the North Side.


For Army brat James Wolfe, buttermilk biscuits taste like home. 

His Grandma Sallie, who taught him the basics of home cookin’, hailed from Wise County, Virginia. 

Wise County Cafe will be an homage to those Appalachian roots and a new life in Pittsburgh, which he shares with Lena Laskaris, his wife and business partner.

The couple is transforming the former Delta Foundation office at 911 Galveston St. into a 2,000-square-foot eatery that will expand upon their Wise County Biscuits pop-up, which has been making the rounds throughout the region since 2017. The restaurant is expected to open this summer with a full menu that goes beyond biscuits.

“We’ve always had more dishes we’ve wanted to share with people, but we wanted them to have a nice, cozy place to sit while eating them,” Laskaris says. 

The foodies met while working for Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, D.C., and they always had intentions of blazing their own culinary trail, but they needed a unique approach. 

A family member suggested they go pro with their pan biscuits and gravy, which they make every year for Christmas (it’s always everyone’s favorite gift).

Wolfe and Laskaris were an instant hit at area farmers’ markets and now operate out of Fulton Commons’ commissary kitchen in Manchester. I caught up with them at the beautiful Lolev Beer in Lawrenceville, where they were dishing out breakfast sandwiches to early risers who stopped by the brewery for a yoga session.

I’m not one to greet a Sunday morning with exercise, but I can be coaxed out of bed with a biscuit. 


Made with King Arthur Flour, buttermilk from Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa and Beaver Meadow Creamery butter (Grandma Sallie used lard), the toasted biscuits are divine.

You can get biscuits topped with either seasonal jam, pimento cheese, Paul Family Farms honey and butter, Tennessee sorghum and butter or sausage gravy and a fried egg. There are several sandwiches, including the best-selling Your Way, which gives patrons a fried egg and their choice of two toppings, from breakfast meat to braised greens. 

After meditating over the menu for several minutes, I was intrigued by Sallie’s Snack, a sammie with pimento cheese, a fried egg and Chow Chow, a condiment made from pickled veggies. Then I “namastayed” for a beer.

If you really want to talk about enlightenment, follow it up with the Sweet Fluffernutter, a dessert biscuit topped with homemade maple fluff and creamy peanut butter. 



Having their own space will allow them to experiment with small-batch biscuits and introduce new sandwiches on a variety of homemade breads. They’ll continue to sell frozen biscuits for at-home consumption and expand their wholesale and catering services. Wise County Biscuits are available at Local Provisions in O’Hara.

With seating for about 50 people, Wise County Cafe will open for breakfast and lunch to start and introduce dinner service in 2024.

Even after the brick-and-mortar spot opens, they plan to work with more local businesses such as Harvie and continue to chew the fat with farmers market customers. 

As Grandma Sallie would say, that’s just good, old-fashioned Wise County hospitality. 

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