Durham, your nights at The Pinhook—as well as your lunch hours—just got a whole lot tastier. At Pie Pushers’ fifth birthday party celebration at The Pinhook Friday night, Mike Hacker and Becky Jo Cascio announced that they will soon install a brick-and-mortar version of their food truck in the space above The Pinhook. The spot will be open for lunch and dinner service, with pending plans for late-night service. It could open as early as this fall.
The Pinhook-Pie Pushers relationship goes way back. Hacker and Register have been pals for more than a decade, having met while Hacker was visiting his friend Shayne Miel, of Durham’s Future Kings of Nowhere. When Midtown Dickens, Register’s duo with Catherine Edgerton, hit the road with FKON, Hacker and Register became fast friends. Hacker would go on to buy the first beer at The Pinhook when it opened in 2008.
“I originally talked about putting a hot dog cart right next to The Pinhook. That was my plan for a year or two,” Hacker says.
Pie Pushers launched on April 1, 2011, and though Hacker and Cascio talked about one day opening a “real” restaurant, they wanted to focus on the truck for a few years. But when The Pinhook took ownership of its building in 2014, Register reached out to Hacker and Cascio to discuss bringing their long-discussed dream to fruition.
Pie Pushers will be able to operate its truck out of the restaurant kitchen, rather than sharing space with other trucks at The Cookery, which could make for a bigger and more flexible menu. The Pinhook, its patrons, and Durham at large will have access to quick, cheap food in a downtown landscape progressively dotted with expensive eateries. Even though The Pinhook and Pie Pushers will operate individually, Register notes that the two businesses will have plenty of chances for collaboration.
“We are definitely still separate entities, but there is an option for unity, which I’m excited about, because we can have conversations about things,” Register says.
The potential partnership hit a major snag late last year when The Pinhook found itself in debt to the North Carolina Department of Revenue to the tune of eighty-thousand dollars. The project was put on hold, but once The Pinhook pulled through, the plans picked up again.
“It was not a fun phone call to get from Kym. It was stressful, and it was horrible for her,” Cascio says. “But in my mind, it wasn’t not going to happen,
It’s happening, all right. Construction should begin soon, and Cascio says they hope to be open by fall. There’s the stereotype that you shouldn’t go into business with your friends, but Hacker says The Pinhook’s close relationship with Pie Pushers has made for better business-related interactions for both of them in the past. Now, the tenants get a landlord they know they can trust, and vice versa.
“We’re both two businesses, but we’re not two businessmen talking to each other. It’s more like a group, or a family, or a band,” Hacker says. “It’s organically coming up with things together, which is easier to talk about.”
Register’s goals for The Pinhook have always been bigger-picture than just running a rock club, as mentioned in the INDY last year. Hacker says he feels like Pie Pushers can help create an everybody-oriented space that welcomes all folks in Durham, not just the big money that’s been taking over downtown.
“Everything that’s getting built up is getting pricy and trendy, and there’s no room for, ‘I get paid seven dollars an hour, how can I hang out?’” he says. “There will be here.”