Why Fishtown no-tip brunch spot Girard abruptly shut down for 2 days

“This came totally out of nowhere, very unexpected,” said Brian Oliveira, 26.

The sunny interior of Girard Bruncherie

The sunny interior of Girard Bruncherie

Brian Michael Kinney
danyahenninger-headshot-2022

Brian Oliveira, chef and owner of Girard in Fishtown, suffered a collapsed lung last weekend. He was hospitalized, and the restaurant was forced to close for a couple of days, but he has since been released and the bruncherie is back up and running.

Oliveira, 26, does not have a history of illness, he says. “This came totally out of nowhere, very unexpected,” he said in a phone call on his way back from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Doctors told him the slight collapse of his left lung was “very atypical,” given his age. They also discovered what may be pneumonia in his lungs.

Despite this, Oliveira — who made Billy Penn‘s latest Who’s Next list, which features Philly chefs — is feeling better and hopes to be back behind the line during the busy holiday weekend. Even if he can’t make it, the restaurant will open with slightly limited food options. (The regular menu ranges from quiche and egg dishes to sandwiches, salads and char-grilled piri chicken.) Coffee will definitely be available.

“There’s only two of us in the kitchen, and I am the head chef, so without me, it’s kind of hard,” he explained. “We had over 50 phone calls in 24 hours [when we were closed on Sunday] — that’s when everyone wants to brunch!”

When Girard opened as Philly’s first no-tipping restaurant in late 2014, front-of-house manager Cristian Mora was a founding partner. He left the business late last year. The split mostly came about because of differences in vision, according to Oliveira, who was more interested in making Girard into a neighborhood daytime gathering spot than a fine dining destination. Indeed, last December, the restaurant introduced new hours — 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

“Part of why we did the whole no-tipping thing is to provide quality of life, which is nonexistent in most restaurant jobs,” Oliveira said. “By closing at night, it allows staff to have some sort of life outside the restaurant — it allows us to be an active part of society.”

Oliveira has been hosting monthly pop-up dinners at the restaurant, which is located on Girard Avenue about three blocks east of Frankford Ave.

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