By Julius Medrano
In September 2017, Justin and Nick Hedagati started a brand new restaurant in the heart of Escondido, with a bar, comfort food and southern flare, sure to bring a different vibe to the restaurants of the city.
24-year-old Nick Hedagati and his 32-year-old brother Justin Hedagati have taken their experiences and ideas into their restaurant. Nick wanted to offer something unique on Grand Avenue that has never been seen before. He said, “I just wanted to go with a menu that Escondido didn’t have a lot of. There are things that people want, but they just don’t know they want.” Their southern comfort food is paired with local beers on tap. “I wouldn’t put it on there if I did not like to drink it myself. And I wouldn’t sell it to people if I wasn’t sure they’d like it,” said Nick.
Nick said he and Justin bring complementary skills to the restaurant. “We’re different and it’s a good thing. He’s more of a details guy, and I’m more of a jump into things. I would get it done, but if I’m wrong, then he’s there to fix it. I’m the one that gets the initial push going, and he’s the one to say, ‘Now hold on, here’s what you got to do.’”
The brothers follow in the footsteps of their father, a restauranteur of almost 30 years. Nick and Justin learned their way around the restaurant business by working with him. Nick said, “My dad has had a Greek place called Chicken Plus. I started over there when I was 15 working for him. I’ve been in the restaurant business for a while learning management positions from the beginning, cooking, and everything else. With the H Brothers thing, I just get a chance to prove it.” There is a lot of advice and experience they take from working at their dad’s restaurant. “He’s really into fast serving almost to the point where you walk in and it takes about five minutes to get your food. Sometimes customers think that if their food is not there in five minutes, they think something is wrong. So I learned that from my dad, and it’s very important to serve food quickly.”
Chef Armando Moreno, 22 years old, works with the brothers to masterfully create the southern style menu. Chef Armando graduated culinary school with a backgrounded in Louisiana style cooking, and was mentored by an Executive Chef from New Orleans. He and Nick met in high school. Armando laughed, “We were just randomly walking on the street and I ran into him, and he was like, ‘Hey dude, check this out, we’re opening up this restaurant.’ As a joke I told him, ‘Hey if you need a chef, just let me know, cause I already know how to do these stuff.’” Armando’s background matched up perfectly with the brothers’ plans for their restaurant. Armando said, “He told me that he wanted something New Orleans, something that is Louisiana southern comfort food…There are just a bunch of little ideas that I have done all my life which we now have here.”
Together, they created a menu which includes pulled pork brisket, po boy sandwiches, poutines, beignets, and finally, their own unique remoulade sauce, which allows customers to know the taste of H Brothers: “The biggest thing was to make our own remoulade sauce. The remoulade sauce that was tossed with the cabbage, we put that in every sandwich, so that way they know that taste like H Brothers.”
All items on the menu are made fresh and served quickly. Armando said, “We want to make sure that people know that we make everything to order. We’re not going to be keeping something frozen. It has to be made from scratch, or else its not going to be real comfort food.” Nick added, “It is very quality. I’m very focused on that. It is all made fresh daily.” They work to get the fresh food made as quickly as possible to provide a fast and casual atmosphere. It allows customers to get their food within a half an hour. Nick said, “With us food comes out quickly. People around here are young professionals. They got to get in and they got to get out….We want you to order your food and get it ten minutes later”
The name “H Brothers” was decided between the brothers because it was simple and because it allowed them freedom for their menu. Nick said, “We had H Brothers because my last name is Hedagati…I did it really because you can make whatever you want with it. When you have a name like H Brothers, you can cook whatever you want. You’re not pigeon-holing yourself.”
Robert Gavia, student at JPCatholic, works part-time at H Brothers and finds it to be a nice and easy-going atmosphere. Robert said, “School itself is challenging, but here [at H Brothers] they work within my schedule. The environment here feels like its at home and connected with everybody. They make sure that it feels like a home, so that you feel welcomed here.” Armando mentioned his love for the local atmosphere of the restaurant, and how owners from other restaurants work together and want to build each another up. He said, “The best part about working here at this local restaurant is that you see other owners come together and support each other. We were surprised that the owner from Burger Bench stopped by and cooked food for him. He has a well established restaurant.”
Thus far, the Hedagati brothers and Chef Armando are doing well with their new restaurant by offering the unique option of southern comfort food, local alcohol, and a casual atmosphere to the residents and locals of Escondido. Nick said, “We’ve been open for five months…We got beer and wine about two months ago, which made it even better and more fun around here…Business has been good.”