If you go to This Little Pig, you’ll probably have trouble deciding what to order. While pork and pierogi is the top seller, housemade mac and cheese sounds enticing and a peek at the pizzas will make your mouth water.
Owners Mandy and Jeff Cooke met while working on a riverboat in Missouri. They moved back to Jeff’s hometown about 12 years ago and continued to work in the restaurant business and eventually opened This Little Pig last summer.
In that short time, This Little Pig has already gained a loyal following. The Cookes took time to talk about it as Jeff whipped up pizza orders and Mandy took reservations for Valentine’s Day – it’s part of the multitasking the restaurant duo has become accustomed to doing.
Question: How did you come up with the name This Little Pig if you’re not a barbecue joint?
Jeff: The name This Little Pig caught my eye and I said, “That’s a perfect name.” We use a lot of pork in our menu, but it’s not in every item. We’re definitely not a barbecue joint, but some people are confused about that when they come in. We definitely have some items on the menu that are barbecue-y but we really consider ourselves to be a new American restaurant.
Q: How do you stand out with so many restaurants along Transit Road?
Mandy: We live out here in Clarence and there are so many chains. We eat out all the time and there’s nothing like this where if you want something casual in jeans or if you want to have a really nice date night with wine and steak. So that’s what we were searching for with great food and reasonable prices.
Q: Do you also try to support local vendors?
Mandy: We do as much as we can locally - the food, the beer, we carry as much local liquor as we can from local distilleries.
Jeff: We get mushrooms from downtown, shrimp from Clinton and Bailey, I work with farmers from Darien to Boston. We just feel like we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but make a better neighborhood restaurant with stuff right from the neighborhood.
Q: How is Sunday brunch going?
Mandy: Now that the football games are over on Sundays, we are picking up. We’ll be at Bloody Mary Fest and we’re excited to do that. We do a Bloody Mary buffet on Sundays for brunch - it’s make your own Bloody Mary however you want. I do a homemade Bloody Mary mix.
Q: What surprises you most since opening six months ago?
Jeff: It’s super cool – the people. We’ve made friends who have been in 10 or 12 times in six months and it’s incredible. There are some guys who come in almost every night to eat - it’s a social thing for them. We have people come in with their kids and sit here and have pizzas.
Q: How rewarding is it to own your own place after working in the industry for others?
Jeff: The coolest thing about this is that Mandy and I have built this thing literally together. We’re here every day together and people think how can you handle that? But it’s been so far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I’m pretty psyched about it.
INFO: This Little Pig, 4401 Transit Road, Clarence (580-7872). Open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is served from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday brunch is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.