If you are looking for a hardy breakfast, lunch or dinner seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., then Birdy’s Restaurant is your place located at 7302 Hamilton Ave. in Homewood. In addition to good food Birdy’s offers stimulating conversation, nice ambiance, friendly staff and a full scale bakery.
Low playing jazz or R&B music fills the room and Black art covers the walls.
One of the many entrepreneur ventures of William Baker, Birdy’s operates one of the few neighborhood bakeries in the city.
“Our bake goods are second to none anywhere in this city,” Baker boasts. He listed donuts, pies, cakes, including birthday cakes, cookies, cupcakes and cheese cakes as items sold. “We use top grade ingredients and everything is freshly made.”
He and his staff take pride in not only their bake goods but in the restaurant as a whole. “We are here to serve the people,” Baker pointed out. “The community needs something like this, a place to get a good meal at reasonable prices.”
Open since mid-December, Baker’s goal is to cater to the public and to focus on business people. A full breakfast is available for $5 with pancakes and French toast specials that include meat, home fries, toast and a beverage. Lunch specials are $7 with choices of burgers, sandwiches, soups and side orders. Dinner specials are also available with a different feature daily.
A specialty of the restaurant is what Baker and his manager Ned Wayne Phenizce call the Birdy Burger– a seven once beef burger they brand as the best burger in town. “This burger is better than any franchise burger establishment, including Wendy’s or McDonalds,” said Phenizce. Though made to order, he said the gourmet burger is a specialty of each of Birdy’s chefs. As encouragement for customers to enjoy the burger, once 20 Birdy Burgers are purchased the next one is free.
Baker and Phenizce said in the future they would like to sponsor a best burger challenge between other restaurants using celebrities as judges. They think it will be fun and bring positive publicity to Homewood.
A long time anchor in the community, Baker owns several establishments on Hamilton and Frankstown Avenues. He has operated Baker’s Dairy for 46 years and owns Mr. B’s Car Wash both in the 7300 block of Hamilton. His wife Patricia operates Images Art Gallery and his son runs Misha Restaurant at 7355 Frankstown Ave., a building he also owns.
A Montgomery, Ala., native, Baker classifies himself as a hard worker, go-getter and good salesman. Since the age of seven he says he has had an entrepreneurial spirit. Thinking back he said he was a Caddy at the golf course on the Maxwell Air Force Base in his hometown and worked in restaurants since he was 10.
Traveling to Pittsburgh at age 17 Baker was hoping to go to college and he was under the illusion that his distant uncle owned an elaborate business in the Hill District where he would find work. Baker learned his way around the city by jitneying at night. He soon gained a clientele by approaching Hill District business owners to jitney their customers. He saved his money to purchase a used car and within a year had enough to purchase a brand new vehicle. He later obtained employment at a furniture store, met his wife and became a family man. In 1962 he began working a second job at a milk company. All the time he says he gained as much knowledge as possible and soon became top salesman. He rented Bards Dairy on Hamilton and Brushton Avenue, in the mid-1960s and later quit his jobs to run his own business full time. He soon purchased 7300 Hamilton and operated a business on Centre and Kirkpatrick in the Hill District. He got into real estate and focused on building his businesses and providing for his family. Birdy’s Restaurant is named after his oldest daughter who is ill. “I hope to inspire her and cheer her up.”
“Mr. Baker has done a lot in this community. He is enhancing the business district in Homewood,” says Phenizce. “It has been interesting and inspirational watching him build this restaurant from a vision to a reality. I’ve seen it develop.”
Phenizce also pointed out the good his boss has done in the community throughout the years. “He not only serves as a role model for his family, but for the residents as well.” Claiming to be the first group to give away bikes for Christmas, Baker now gives Christmas gifts to community families and has helped many people through what Phenizce calls his unselfish spirit.
“My wife and I have worked hard throughout the years, but we do what we do because we love people,” explained Baker. “I’m glad we have a place to help people, to show youth the right way to go and the way to do things. You have to encourage young people.”
“The community trusts and respects Mr. Baker, that’s what it is going to take to make Birdy’s Restaurant and all the other businesses successful,” predicts Phenizce.
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