Committed to Brunch, Customers and The Pig
BY SAMANTHA MATTHEWS, NIGHT AND DAY
While his Manasquan eatery initially was launched as mainly a burger place, owner Jerry Rotunno quickly took notice of the weekend brunch rounding out the business. Lo and behold, seven-day-a-week brunch was born at The Committed Pig.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Opening its doors in 2012, The Committed Pig was the first local restaurant of its kind, but not the first restaurant owned by Rotunno. In 2009 he opened his first restaurant, Food, in Summit, which was known for its modern interpretation of comfort food.
Despite the hours of prep and time spent on dishes such as steak frites, made with a 48-hour veal stock, they would sell somewhat slowly. It was evident that dishes like burgers and French toast were selling like hot cakes. In fact, the pancakes were selling like crazy as well.
According to Rotunno, with wildly popular sellers such as burgers you have the ability to get a jump on preparation beforehand, making the execution per order pretty easy.
“When I opened up this store, which would be the first Committed Pig, I just took the sales reports and asked, ‘What’s selling?’ and I just kind of drew a line,” said Rotunno.
“And I said, “We’re crushing it with burgers, grilled cheese, French toast, pancakes and eggs and everything else is just the numbers,’ just didn’t compare.”
Seeing it in black and white pushed Rotunno to simplify the menu and give patrons what they want.
“So I opened this with that type of menu, where we just chopped everything down and the simplicity of it really allowed us to under-promise, over-deliver,” he said.
With a simplified, peoplepleasing menu, the next element of making The Committed Pig the success it is today was making the restaurant a comfortable and approachable place.
“I wanted to focus on the burgers and a really good a la carte brunch and create that feeling that you can kind of come anytime you want,” said Rotunno.
“A very approachable place where it’s really normal to see people over and over again all week because we’re that local watering hole even though we don’t have liquor.
“So, that evolved from just having brunch on the weekends and being a madhouse from day one, to just saying, ‘Why don’t we focus on doing breakfast and brunch seven days a week and having the dinner section afterward?”
Patrons really resonated with that change because a menu was offered that didn’t confine breakfast to a few hours in the morning or strictly on the weekends. This paved the path for a restaurant that became the next evolution of a diner by catering to breakfast, but transformed into something unique and all its own.
As he was with the menu, Rotunno was very hands-on with the look and feel of the restaurant.
“I put this brick in [pointing from one side of the restaurant to the other] and that brick on that side and redesigned the place to give it that postindustrial feel with the Edisonstyle lightbulbs and the chalkboard and our copper like ceilings,” he said.
His attention to detail also ensured that the seating would be both comfortable and durable.
A PLACE AND EATS FOR EVERYONE
“Once you’ve been here and your friends tell you about it, you should walk in and feel very comfortable, not like you’re not accepted or you’re in here at the wrong time or you’re underdressed or overdressed … Come in sweatpants or come in before you go out on a Friday night or whatever,” Rotunno said with a laugh.
While the pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches, pancakes and French toast are all scrumptious, the Brunchwich, a bacon, egg and cheese on French toast, is in a category all its own. Rotunno admits that when a cook and manager first created it everyone seemed to take a step back.
“It came off like it was one of those showpieces and then you have it and you’re like, ‘This is really good and it’s so rich and it’s so filling,” he said.