Last Thursday, Brian Armour opened the doors to Uptown's newest sweet pie and Ramen noodle joint (I know, I know?another one??), Noodle & Pie, the brick-and-mortar manifestation of the cultish pop up from a band of Dante's Kitchen dabblers that included Armour, Eman Loubier, and Kris Bouley. The stand-alone Noodle & Pie will feature the pastry stylings of Mimi Assad and, when textbooks thud into Uptown bookstores at the end of August, most likely be the newest food Mecca for Tulane students tired of microwaving their own sad little noodle cups. A week into his latest adventure in Asian cuisine, Amour spoke with Eater about the transition from pop up to restaurant, and the encouraging buzz Noodle & Pie has attracted on Facebook.
How's business been the first week in?
We've just been trying to get our kitchen together. My sous chef and I have just been working sixteen-hour days consistently, trying to get everything in order. We're hanging in there?we don't have a choice at this point?put it's been good so far, business has been consistent and we're looking forward to getting more of it. We've been doing 150 per night on a regular business since we opened, so that's where we are with that.
Were you prepared for enormous workload when you were first kicking around the idea of opening your own place?
Well, you have so many resources to gauge interest. We'd done the pop up a couple years ago so we knew we had a lot of fans, at least within the industry. Some people who just happened across us as a pop up have wandered to the restaurant, which is great, at this point. Ahead of the opening, you get more responses on Twitter and Facebook, just people looking forward to the it, asking when it's finally going to happen. You can kind of see some of the anticipation on social media, which let us know that we were probably going to get going right away.
A lot of people have made that transition from pop up to brick-and-mortar spot. Was that your ultimate goal when you started the pop up?
It [a pop up] certainly is a good thermometer to see whether people are having good reactions to what you're doing, but I don't think we initially thought about a brick-and-mortar place when we started the pop up. After getting such a great response from people for something that was really just a little change of pace from what we were doing at Dante's Kitchen, an opportunity to use the space we're in now became available, and we figured we'd try this out, try to make it the real deal.
Would you characterize Noodle & Pie as a 'spin-off' of Dante's?
I wouldn't say it's a spin-off, exactly, thought Eman [Loubier] is the chef and owner over there and we carry a lot of the same philosophy as far as sourcing local, in-season produce, using excellent ingredients?I mean, that's two-thirds of the battle, technique and quality ingredients. As long as you have great technique and good ingredients at your disposal you can do great things. But as far as "spin-off," that's about all we take from Dante's. We take our own personal background in cooking and bring it to this new type of cuisine.
Where do you hope to be in two months as the new season rolls in?
We're just hoping to expand our repertoire. We have an evolving menu and we're trying to stabilize ourselves as far as the kitchen goes so we can deliver a quality product. We're also trying to keep ourselves interested and keep learning about Asian cuisine, and sort of explore some of the limitations of what we're doing. I think right now is a great time for us to be open because it's hot, and a lot of people, under ordinary circumstances, might not be eating things like hot soup, which gives us a chance to get on our feet, get all the kinks sorted out, and pay our bills. Tulane students should be coming back shortly, and we're in a pretty great location to receive that kind of business.
Hopefully it won't slow down, which might be an insane belief, but I'm going to be keep believing it until I'm shown otherwise.
· Noodle & Pie [Facebook]