Thirteen years ago, George Weld was living in Williamsburg, attempting to start a writing career, when he accidentally opened a restaurant instead.
A friend offered him free reign in the mornings at his newly opened hot dog place, and Weld, who had worked in restaurants in high school and college, took him up on it. This is how Egg, Weld’s mega-popular Williamsburg eatery, was hatched.
When demand quickly exceeded the few hours it was open, Egg took over the entire space. But that didn’t make a dent in the ever-present line.
Eventually, in 2014, Weld moved the entire operation to a bigger space on North 3rd Street.
Egg was part of a community of restaurants, Weld says, that is largely nonexistent today. “We never thought anything of asking someone for cooking oil or flour, sharing contact info for repair folks or good vendors or even sending cooks over to help out when needed,” he remembers. Tom Mylan of The Meat Hook taught him how to butcher a pig in a shed behind the restaurant Diner.
With that said, he’s still happy to be in Williamsburg. “I still like it here, though,” Weld says. “I meet amazing people here all the time without even trying.”
How has Williamsburg changed since you opened Egg?
How hasn’t it? When we opened there was no development on the waterfront — only shoulder-high weeds filled with skaters and the local marching band and creeps and people walking their dogs. Kent Avenue was a two-way drag strip. People in Manhattan still couldn’t resist the joke of asking whether they’d need a passport to come to Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite meal of the day?
I should say breakfast, but the truth is I often don’t get around to eating until lunch time, and I really like Egg’s lunch menu. It’s also the only meal I’m really consistently able to get out for.
Where do you like to eat when you go out?
I love going out to eat, but my kids hate it so it’s rare that we do it. When I do it’s often to the same old (great) standbys — Diner, Aurora. I’ve had a lot of good lunches at La Goulette and Oasis and Reynard.
Can you tell us about Goatfell, your farm in the Catskills?
We started trying to grow some of our own produce up there in about 2008. It’s small but when it’s in full swing it provides us more vegetables than we can possibly use. We had actual towers of tomatoes all over the restaurant this summer. It’s run by a farmer who lives upstate — sometimes it’s been someone from the restaurant who wanted to try something new, but right now it’s run by a guy who brings decades of experience to it and does amazing, almost miraculous work.
You recently opened an outpost in Tokyo. How is that going so far? What has been the biggest surprise during the expansion?
It’s going well – certainly an interesting experience. One of the biggest surprises was actually just how small the world is and how close Tokyo is to Brooklyn: I met so many people in Tokyo who’d been to Egg in Brooklyn that it felt like we’d just opened up around the corner from Williamsburg rather than halfway around the world.
Anything you’re hoping to bring back to the menu this spring?
That’s more [chef] Evan Hanczor’s call now than mine but I’m always happy just to see berries return and to start getting stuff from Goatfell. Our farmer’s got trays of seeds started already, so as soon as the ground’s soft we’ll have at least radishes and greens coming in.
Here’s a question from many of us here in the office: What is the best way to make a scrambled egg?
Gently and with nothing but whole butter and a little salt.
Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Brownstoner magazine.
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