Pies 'n' Thighs
166 South Fourth Street, Brooklyn
In its original iteration, Pies ‘n’ Thighs could have fit inside a spacious walk-in closet. In 2006, Sarah Sanneh and partner Stephen Tanner took over a beer storage closet in Williamsburg and jammed a few vinyl stools against a countertop that faced a pleasantly sweaty open kitchen. Soon, the spot’s trademark delicately crispy, exceptionally salty fried chicken, served alongside remarkably decadent pies, earned the venue a reputation that transcended its humble quarters.
But the New York City restaurant industry can be unkind to even the most popular newcomers. Two years after it opened, the humble venue shuttered, and Sanneh’s business partner split.
Sanneh hung in there, and in 2010, with new business partner and co-owner chef Carolyn Bane, she pulled Pies ‘n’ Thighs back from the ashes in a new location, just a few blocks away.
“Carolyn and I have been working side by side for years,” Sanneh said. “And over those years, we've become better leaders, cooks, schedule makers, bookkeepers, novice electricians, bureaucracy navigators, and all the other things being a restaurateur requires. But being in New York, we also get to see former co-workers and friends succeed in this tough industry. Whether they're running empires, writing cookbooks, food styling, teaching, or waking up at 4am for decades to get the donuts out on time, it's a great feeling to think of our friends making it happen across the industry.”
With a new team behind her, and Bane by her side, the restaurant’s second life is an overwhelming success.
“Our struggles are as varied as our responsibilities,” she said. “Today, my struggles are getting the credit card processor to work, patching a hole in the floor, thinking of something for family meal, and figuring out how to turn our electric water heater up. Tomorrow will have its own scintillating list of challenges. But if we're able to finish the day in a better place than we started, it's a good day.”