Nikki Heckman is founder and owner of Bistro to Go. Established in October 2007, Bistro is much more than a restaurant, it’s known as a community staple. We sat down with Nikki to learn a little about her story and how Bistro came to fruition.
Nikki, a Manchester native, will always have a passion for the Northside. “The community is really diverse. It’s a place where I played [growing up]. The Northside is the first place I wanted to be.”
After serving food to the community at Allegheny Center Alliance Church for many years, she was encouraged to open her own restaurant. “People from the community helped me build this [Bistro] out.” The first day Bistro opened, they brought in $3,600, far exceeding expectations. Business continued to pick-up, but like most start-up companies they amassed quite a bit of debt.
Despite her financial woes, Nikki never stopped caring for the community. “In the middle of my crisis I did what I’ve always known, take care of people.” Looking back, her experience in the restaurant industry, with the church, and in working with the homeless and area non-profits, all led to serving the community through Bistro to Go. “I couldn’t have planned or imagined that would happen out of me just opening a restaurant.”
Now, Bistro has grown to 45 employees all with living wages, between $15 – $35 an hour with full benefits for those that work over 20 hours a week. Nikki empowers her employees to think for themselves and contributes to a diverse workforce. “I have learned that we can impact these emerging communities, diverse in every which way by working together with respect. I believe in them [the Northside community]. That’s the kind of place I want Bistro to Go to be.”
For Nikki, the Northside is family. “These are my mothers, my brothers, these are my sisters. The lines go away. I have made a commitment to this community. This community has my heart.” We couldn’t agree more, when you come into Bistro to Go, you feel welcomed.
Bistro to Go is located at 415 East Ohio Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.