Signs for the Uptown-based Back to the Foodture restaurant seem to promise dishes and decor inspired by the popular Back to the Future movie franchise – sitting at a DeLorean booth, being served by a Doc Brown impersonator, and so on.
Even though you will find the Doc Brown Burger and the Great Scott Salad on the menu, the concept is a bit more than that. The restaurant-museum pays homage to pop culture icons of decades past, and the childhood nostalgia transports Gen Xers back to hours spent playing with He-Man and Cabbage Patch Kids.
After launching Back to the Foodture in 2019 in the Mon Valley town of Pitcairn, Eddie “Barnz” Magwood and Angel Magwood recently added a second location in Uptown. They relocated their flagship to the SouthSide Works in 2021.
Having met in high school, the pair reunited in adulthood and decided to combine their passions in order to make their dreams come true.
Eddie recalls coming up with the concept of combining a restaurant with a pop-culture museum when he was eight or nine years old. “Back to the Future was one of the movies that I liked. I was like, ‘Hey, I want to do a restaurant museum called Back to the Foodture,’” he chuckles.
When Angel resigned from her nursing job she found herself looking for a new vocation. At first, she wanted to open a daycare, but Eddie offered his opinion on the matter, telling her, “Let’s do a restaurant. You’re gonna be great, you’re gonna blow up.”
Angel, who now serves as Back to the Foodture’s chef, comes from a long line of women who are naturally talented in the kitchen, and the gift did not miss her. Since she was tall enough to reach the counter, she spent hours helping her grandmother in the kitchen, lovingly preparing meals for the family.
But cooking professionally wasn’t necessarily what Angel thought she would be doing. As she jokingly puts it, she was going to be a “trophy wife,” So, it took some convincing on Eddie’s part.
While out running errands, Angel came upon the perfect location for Back to the Foodture. After cashing out 401Ks and savings accounts, the Pitcairn spot was theirs.
They opened their doors just in time for a chance encounter with Herky Pollock, an executive vice president and northwest director for the CBRE development firm. One day, Pollock walked in, asked a bunch of questions, and placed a very large order. “He ordered six dozen wings, and seven fries. I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Next thing you know, he’s calling my cellphone,” says Angel.
Pollock took Angel to an available space in the Southside Works, and after confirming that she loved it, handed over the keys with a promise of a contract soon to follow. The decision was made to close the Pitcairn location and open up in SouthSide Works in 2021. “We were the first Black-owned restaurant in the SouthSide Works, which was absolutely amazing,” Angel recalls.
The couple cut the ribbon on their second location in January at 1014 Fifth Avenue in Uptown. At 6,300-square-feet, they claim it’s the largest Black-owned restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Diners can expect a whole menu of comfort food with fun names. In addition the the Back to the Future theme, there are items named after famous pro wrestlers, rappers, and other figures. The hot dogs are, appropriately, named after canines from film and TV.
After receiving so much support and generosity, the Magwoods makes sure to put that same energy right back into the community. Having participated in a work-study program when she was in high school, Angel decided to get involved again teaching life skills as part of Start On Success, a program to better prepared for students with disabilities for the workforce and post-secondary education. Certain students who participate in this program go to school until 11 a.m. and continue their day at Back to the Foodture with Angel.
“So, not only do we teach them culinary skills, but on top of that, I like to teach them the outside stuff,” Angel explains. The “outside stuff” includes writing a check, preparing a budget, and learning how to build their credit. “I had a Key Bank rep come down to the restaurant, and they opened up all the kids' accounts – checking, savings accounts.” She adds that they also opened secured credit cards.
What the couple finds most rewarding is the legacy they are continuing and the example they are setting for their four children, who range in age from 12 to 23. While they all contribute to the business, the couple’s youngest son, Ryeon, aka “Buggie,” seems most interested in following in his mother’s culinary footsteps. He created Back to the Foodture’s Buggie Burger when he was eight years old.
“He’s been in the kitchen with me literally since he was six years old. How my grandma had me in the kitchen, Buggie is my guy in the kitchen,” Angel adds. “It feels good to teach my kids those same lessons my grandma taught me.”
Back to the Foodture. 2767 E. Carson St., South Side and 1014 Fifth Ave., Uptown. instagram.com/back2thefoodture