PITTSBURGH -- During baseball season, Jameson Taillon usually supports his favorite restaurants by visiting on a regular basis and sending everyone he knows to check them out, too. That’s how Scott Walton, the chef and owner of Acorn in the Shadyside neighborhood, came to know Josh Bell, other Pirates players
PITTSBURGH -- During baseball season, Jameson Taillon usually supports his favorite restaurants by visiting on a regular basis and sending everyone he knows to check them out, too. That’s how Scott Walton, the chef and owner of Acorn in the Shadyside neighborhood, came to know Josh Bell, other Pirates players and even members of Taillon’s family.
“I’m his biggest fan,” Walton said, “and he’s the same.”
On Thursday morning, Taillon and Bell teamed up with Walton to have 300 bagels delivered to healthcare workers at West Penn Hospital. It was yet another gesture by Pirates players, like their pizza delivery and coffee distribution, to simultaneously help local businesses and hospital staff who have been particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Living in Bloomfield, I’m neighbors to West Penn Hospital and to Acorn on Walnut Street. Acorn is always the first stop I make with my Pittsburgh visitors, and Chef Scott always makes it such a special experience,” Taillon said. “To be able to help his restaurant that he takes so much pride in, and to help West Penn and their amazing workers and staff, just made sense for me and JB.”
Within the last month, Taillon and Bell reached out to Walton and asked how they could support the restaurant. They offered to buy gift cards, but Walton wondered if there was a way they could help people at the same time. Why not support the healthcare workers at West Penn Hospital five minutes away?
Walton, who opened Acorn in September 2017 after previously serving as the executive chef at Heinz Field, said it took about 7 1/2 hours of work on Wednesday night to prepare the order: 300 bagels -- a mix of sea salt, onion, poppy seed, everything and sesame, all made by hand.
“It’s a little different, but it was really super cool. Those guys have been great for me and for our restaurant and for the community,” Walton said. “Being as young as they are as athletes, they’re just amazing guys. They’re the nicest people in the world. On top of it, they left this huge tip for my staff. I told them not to; this is charity, and they’re like, ‘No.’
“You can’t say enough about them, how good they are to Pittsburgh and to the community.”
Why bagels? Acorn typically serves modern American cuisine and craft cocktails, but that didn’t translate all that well to the restaurant industry’s new normal of takeout and delivery orders. So Walton and his staff focused on making the bagels they usually serve for brunch on the weekends, even though they’re not set up to function like a traditional bakery.
West Penn Hospital is part of the Allegheny Health Network, the Pirates’ official medical provider, but it also has special meaning to Walton. That’s where his second daughter was born in September 2016, he said, after he and his wife moved to Pittsburgh.
“It’s great,” Walton said. “I thought that would be a cool thing that we could do for some of the frontline healthcare workers.”
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.