November marks the return of Red Owl Tavern’s Month of 1,000 Pies, where proceeds from the baked treats benefit Philabundance, the local nonprofit devoted to fighting hunger.
It’s a continuation of a seven-year tradition at the Old City restaurant and bar. Outside of November, Red Owl doesn’t feature pie on its menu at all.
“During Thanksgiving time, pies are a big hit,” said Erik Travers, director of restaurants, bars, and events at Kimpton Hotels, which manages the tavern on the edge of Independence Mall. “So, this is the way where we can sell pies, make some guests happy, and also donate to charity.”
Instead of the usual duo of pumpkin and apple varieties previously made for the program, executive chef Charles Vogt and his team have gone with coconut custard and sweet potato pie for this year’s flavors.
They’re $15 apiece or $26 for two, with half the sale price going directly to Philabundance. The nonprofit has long been one of the region’s leaders in combating hunger, delivering yearly estimates of over 50 million pounds of food to nine counties across Southeastern Pa. and Southern New Jersey.
The Month of 1,000 Pies program got its start in 2016, from the combined efforts of Travers, then-general manager Natalie Pineda, and Red Owl chef at the time Caitlin Mateo. It’s been inherited by executive chef Vogt, who transferred over two years ago from sister Kimpton venue Square 1682.
The idea has evolved over time. Initially, the program saw Red Owl donating a pie to Philabundance for each one sold. Switching to sharing a portion of the sales, Travers explained, means the charity organization gets a larger donation — essentially all the profits brought in. The restaurant’s share just about covers the cost of the pies.
It’s been a great way, the chef said, to give back to the community at a time of year when many are in need and food banks often face higher demand. “Plus, who doesn’t who doesn’t like pie?”
About 100 were sold during the first year, per Travers, a number that’s been slowly growing annually. Breaking past 132 is this year’s goal.
The pies are available when you dine in, but can also be picked up in person or pre-ordered by phone or online.
Beyond the pie deal, Red Owl Tavern collaborates with Philabundance by granting internships to members of the charity organization’s culinary programs. The restaurant also sponsors events to benefit No Kid Hungry, Travers said, and plans to bring back its Women’s Way Wednesday series in March, with weekly menus curated by local female chefs and proceeds going towards the nonprofit advocating for women, girls, and gender and racial equity.
“We’re just excited to give back,” said Travers. “That’s one of the things that we really truly believe in.”
Open since 2012 on the first two floors of the Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco at 5th and Chestnut, Red Owl’s wood and steel aesthetic is inspired by the space’s former identity as a bank vault. The menu, described by the owners as New American, includes dinner plates like cauliflower shawarma, cacio e pepe, and chicken schnitzel, alongside burgers and braised short rib.
Lunch options bring a slimmer list of entrees – fish n’ chips, Bolognese, and classic moules frites – but a wide selection of sandwiches. There is also a daily breakfast menu, and brunch served on weekends. Outside of pies during November, dessert options include chocolate marquise, vegan olive oil gateaux, and Franklin Fountain ice cream.
A special Thanksgiving dinner menu ($75 adults, $25 kids) offers options like wagyu brisket, brown sugar and maple glazed ham, or roasted Faroe Island salmon, as well as traditional turkey.
433 Chestnut Street | 7:30 to 10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday