Sandwiches are complicated these days. They’re overstuffed with fancy ingredients you’ve never heard of, they fall apart when you bite in and they’ll usually cost about $14. But Brian Torres and Sky Hoyt’s latest eatery, Fork & Dagger, brings Savannah back to basics with deli-style gourmet sandwiches that won’t have customers working overtime.
For Torres and Hoyt, simplicity is key. The 30-seater restaurant is cool and relaxed with wooden tables and silver barstools that were donated by friends and spray-painted by family. Art hangs on the light blue walls, purple flowers sit on each table and the menu of New York and Puerto Rican influenced breakfast and lunch is written in chalk above the register. It’s a menu full of food they love to eat, made from fresh ingredients. It’s food that is familiar and filling. Fork & Dagger feels like home, and that’s the point.
“We’re not trying to recreate anything,” Torres said. “We just want to do what we do, and do it well enough that people keep coming back.”
It’s an easy feat for them, with a dedicated following from past projects like local favorite FORM cheesecake. Since their soft opening on March 24, 2017, they’ve turned out ticket after ticket, nearly running out of items every day—something not many Savannah restaurants do. People keep coming, mainly from word of mouth, and keep the flow going from open to close. This may seem like the result of marketing done right, but to Torres it’s about community.
“I’ve been here for 15 years, Sky’s been here for 21 years. Savannah has always taken care of us so it’s nice to have a place like this to reconnect. There’s no rush; we have a nice rhythm. What we love about this place, and Savannah, is that it’s a real family-run restaurant.”
Everything besides the donated chairs was made by Hoyt. The breads, “real bread,” and meats, “pastrami and corned beef sliced every morning,” all come from Torres’ New York stomping grounds. On days they’re extra busy, family and friends run food and bus tables.
“It’s pieced together from all these different people, and it feels right,” said Torres. “At the end of the day, people just want a good meal. It’s simple and good, so it works.”
While Torres notes that the food may not be the healthiest, it’s delicious and at the right price so that you don’t feel guilty about it. The bread on the Cuban sandwich melts in your mouth and it’s balanced by the perfect combination of pickles, cheese and pork. The Pig ‘n’ Grits on their breakfast menu is juicy pork shoulder served over cheesy grits with an egg on top. It’s the kind of comfort food that will sustain you for rest of the day. And in a walking town like Savannah, Torres reasons that “the sun’s out, it’s a nice day, treat yourself today and eat a salad tomorrow.”
The tall, yellow-beige building Fork & Dagger resides in two blocks from Forsyth Park has both been a challenge and a great reward to Torres and Hoyt. An apartment building at Abercorn and Huntingdown streets with various businesses on the ground level, it has seen better days. But where some saw trouble, they saw an invitation.
“Some locals looked at this building with hesitation and asked, ‘Do you really want to do it there?’ But to me, it has personality, I love this building,” Torres said. “You can be eight blocks down, see this building, and know exactly where we’re at.”
Where they are now is a whole lot different from where they were. You had to have a vision in those early stages, said Torres. It was hard to see what it could be from all the grime and grit left over from past businesses, but Hoyt had that vision and Torres had trust.
“Sky, in addition to being an amazing chef, is an incredible interior designer. So I stepped back and she did her thing. When it was finally finished and we were able to take it all in, it was worth it,” said Torres. “Our first customer was this older man who lived in the building for 17 years. And he’s seen businesses come and go and sometimes disliked living here. But he walked in and said ‘Wow, I am proud to call this my place.’”
Torres smiled. “It was that simple. And we knew we did it right.”
Fork & Dagger is open Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. It is located at 609 ½ Abercorn St., across from Cuoco Pazzo Cucina Italiana. For any questions, call (912) 712-5115 or visit their Facebook page.