Heather Tierney’s plant-based eateries offer healthy fare in a stylish setting
Heather Tierney’s first job out of college was as a food writer for Time Out New York, which gave her the opportunity to learn about the city’s food and beverage scene. She later owned and operated a cocktail bar and a Mexican restaurant with her brother that were located next to each other in New York’s Chinatown.
Eventually, Tierney became driven by the desire to create something healthy that she wanted in her own life. In 2014, she opened The Butcher’s Daughter, a plant-based restaurant, café and juice bar that serves healthy vegetarian dishes with many vegan and gluten-free options as well. They source their produce from local and organic farms, and feature special seasonal dishes and beverages.
“I would describe myself as a designer who happens to own bars and restaurants,” Tierney said. “I’m always thinking visually first and I knew how I wanted to design my restaurant. I came up with the idea to have kale and vegetables hanging from meat hooks, because when you make juice, you butcher and slaughter the produce, and after we make juice, it looks like there’s blood on the walls. Butcher shops are a dying breed nowadays, and I imagined an old butcher whose daughter became a vegetarian as an act of rebellion against her father because she grew up around meat and got tired of it, so that’s how the name came to be.”
Since opening the first restaurant in New York’s Nolita neighborhood seven years ago, The Butcher’s Daughter has expanded to include two more locations in New York (West Village and Williamsburg), a West Coast location in Venice, as well as a food and juice truck that can be found at the Venice Farmers’ Market.
“I had been in New York for a decade and was over the winters, so I moved to California,” Tierney said. “I love California, specifically Venice, so when I moved here, I took a year off, lived on the canals and rode a beach cruiser around. I eventually signed a lease for a space on Abbot Kinney and everything just fell into place, it was meant to be.”
While each location shares a similar design and menu, they all have their own unique personality traits and signature dishes as well. Tierney also owns Wanderlust Design, a design and creative agency based in Venice and New York, and selected all of the design elements for each restaurant.
“I always pick one color that pops against the neutral setting with lots of organic woods and greenery,” Tierney explained. “For our Venice location, we used lots of indigo fabric to mimic the ocean. I also put in a 25-foot communal dining table and counter stools, because I wanted to create a sense of community where people could come in by themselves, feel comfortable and interact with others if they want. Every time I open a new location, I get to design the space and come up with ideas for the food and beverage menus. The creative process is what really drives me.”
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Butcher’s Daughter serves a variety of innovative and healthy dishes that range from mushroom pizza and poppyseed waffles to spicy kale Caesar salad and the Butcher’s Burger. The avocado toast and vegan Pad Thai are among the most popular dishes.
Dessert offerings include citrus cake, chocolate matcha cake and cashew ice cream, while the drink menu features wellness lattes, cold-pressed juices, fresh smoothies, wine, as well as craft beer and seasonal cocktails such as the rosemary mule and the spicy mezcalita.
“My husband, who is a carnivore, loves The Butcher’s Daughter because he can go enjoy a margherita pizza with good-quality mozzarella,” Tierney said. “Depending on people’s diets and food preferences, we can also substitute with vegan mozzarella, cashew ricotta or burrata cheese, as well as a gluten-free cauliflower crust. There’s something for everyone.”
Like all other restaurants, The Butcher’s Daughter was impacted by COVID-19, but Tierney and her team found creative ways to pivot during the pandemic. In addition to expanding outdoor seating, online orders and delivery, they offered Bodega Boxes: curated wooden crates that feature a selection of fresh produce and other ingredients such as eggs, bread, almond and oat milk, fresh juice and more. Bodega Boxes are available for sale on their website in multiple themes including a Farmers Market, Kitchen & Pantry and Wellness kits.
“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster,” Tierney said. “The hardest part was in the beginning when everyone was dealing with the fear of this new virus, as well as navigating how to keep the restaurants open. We were able to apply for and get a PPP loan, which was a big relief. We started selling our Bodega Boxes, which have been very popular as well.”
Tierney plans to open more locations, including one in LA as well as across the United States. She is also looking to open a location in a hotel in New York as well.
“Our brand is a really great fit for hotels because we can offer people the opportunity to eat and drink healthy while they’re traveling,” Tierney said. “We look forward to expanding but we’re not in a rush, we’d rather be patient and wait for the right space. When people come to our restaurants, our amazing staff makes them feel welcome and at home. I want people to be able to feel like they can drop by anytime and stay as long as they like. Some of our regulars come in multiple times a day – we have one guy that comes to our Venice location for coffee in the morning, then he’ll come back later and read a script. More people want to be healthier these days, and we like being able to offer them a place where they can enjoy good food and drink while doing something good for themselves.”
— Kamala Kirk