Hintonburg’s Heartbreakers opens amid coronavirus shut downs

Heartbreakers co-owner Lizzie Chatham shows off a New York slice at their Hintonburg location. Photo courtesy of Juliana Graf.

By Hollie Grace James

Just as Hintonburg’s newest pizza joint, Heartbreakers, threw open its doors to much community anticipation on March 11, Ottawa was hit with its first recorded case of COVID-19. Four days later, owners Juliana Graf and Andrew Chatham, along with Chatham’s sister Lizzie, were left with no choice but to close their 30-seat, New York-style restaurant. They had to pivot quickly towards a smaller, more conducive takeout menu. 

“It’s so different and not what we had envisioned,” Juliana said. “We didn’t want to open a takeout pizza place. We wanted to create a fun space to come into. [But] we’ll have to adapt.” 

For years, Juliana and Andrew were the owners of Perth’s bakery and cafe, The Fieldhouse, which they sold in 2019. The partners (in both business and life), wanted to be closer to family and jumped at the chance to turn the space at 465 Parkdale Ave., formerly Kat Kosk’s Blumenstudio, into their very own pizzeria. With the opening, the Chatham siblings returned to the neighbourhood where they grew up. 

“They remember [our space] as Jaguar’s Convenience, hence the logo,” Juliana explained about the heart-spotted big cat that now adorns their windows and website. 

The restaurant is dedicated to the New York style-slice and inspired by NYC spots like L’Industrie, Scarr’s and Di Fara.  The menu speaks to the trio’s love of pizza and offers pies like “Gourd-gous” which are topped with cream, mozzarella and goat cheese, winter squash, pickled onion, salsa verde, arugula and watercress (when in season). 

“Hopefully when we reopen [we’ll] always have different pizzas on the menu,” Juliana said.

She added that their move to an area with a well-established and well-loved pizza scene was more about community than competition.

“We really could be a part of this so-called pizza hub that’s happening and each individual restaurant focuses on uniquely different pies.” 

Juliana said that their take on the New York slice is “holdable, foldable and loveable.” It’s got a “thin crispy crust with some chew to it.” 

The trio has also had to be flexible in new ways when it comes to sourcing ingredients. Juliana said they’ve been adapting the best they can while hoping customers can do the same. 

“We get really excited about putting an item on the menu,” she said.  “And we can only get it for two days and it’s gone.” 

According to the latest Google data, they’ve hit the spot so far. Heartbreakers has been pulling in five-star reviews.

“I’m so overwhelmed by the incredible support [from the community]. People really care about small business and as soon as people heard we had just opened, we’ve had so much support,” Juliana said. “It’s been really amazing. We’re so grateful.”

Heartbreakers is currently offering takeout for pickup and has paired up with Love Local Delivery to offer $5 delivery within a 5km radius. 

For more information, visit www.heartbreakerspizza.com 

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