If you’re a connoisseur of the Pittsburgh food truck scene, chances are, you’ve encountered Revival Chili.
For the past two years, this trailer-style food truck has been serving Pittsburghers hearty bowls of homemade chili at breweries and events around the city. However, as delicious as the chili is (and trust us – it’s really good), for Revival, it’s never been just about the food.
The name “Revival Chili” is a nod to the business’s mission: to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged individuals that are often overlooked by employers for various reasons, including homelessness, previous incarceration, and lack of experience.
Founder Jordan Robarge was inspired to start the business after struggling to gain employment post college graduation because of an underage drinking charge. When the food truck launched in May of 2017, Revival originally hired previously-incarcerated Pittsburgh residents and provided them with job training and personal mentoring.
Even then, Revival planned to expand their business, and over the past two years, this goal has come to fruition many ways – namely purchasing the longtime Wilkinsburg staple “Nancy’s Diner” as their permanent outpost.
“We started looking for a brick and mortar pretty much immediately,” said Robarge. “We wanted to be open seven days a week, lunch and dinner, and be able to increase the number of employees and lives impacted.”
Revival searched all over Pittsburgh for the perfect home base before purchasing Nancy’s Diner in October last year. Nancy’s opened in the neighborhood in 1976 and is a longtime Pittsburgh institution, famous for their friendly atmosphere and crepe-style pancakes.
Starting last week, the business officially rebranded to Nancy’s Revival. However, Revival is dedicated to keeping the Nancy’s spirit alive as they continue to offer the community home cooked, affordable meals.
With a fresh coat of paint and newly buffed floors, Nancy’s Revival offers a new menu that combines Nancy’s beloved classics with new menu options. Guests will now find Nancy’s staples like The Fat Cat, or classic Pancake Breakfast, next to new, Revival-inspired dishes like the “Chili and Waffles,” or the “Revival Chili Bowl.”
“The new menu reflects what we are trying to do with Nancy’s Revival as a whole,” says Robarge. “Keep the legacy of Nancy’s kindness and community alive and add our own Revival flair to build on the resurgence the Wilkinsburg community is seeing.”
The new menu also reflects partnerships with many local businesses, including coffee from KLVN Coffee Lab, bread from Mancini’s, Turner’s juice, Leona’s ice cream, and Goodness Grows Farm meat.
The Revival Chili truck will continue to operate around the city, and employees of both will continue to receive the entrepreneurship and skill training session that are a large part of Revival’s mission.
As stated on their website, “Each new employee will not only receive training in customer service, food handling and safety, but they will also be taught financial planning and will be given entrepreneurial training in a classroom setting. This is an effort to make their employment here truly life-changing, as Revival Chili pledges to help each employee launch their own food truck or business.”
Nancy’s Revival is open Monday – Sunday until 2:00 P.M. Keep an eye on Nancy’s Facebook page for upcoming events such as Fish Fry Dinners.
Nancy’s Revival (616 South Avenue)