Walking into Butter Me Up in Montgomery Mall, I first see a large dollhouse with the words inside “Breakfast in Bed.” That feels about right for this light peach color, family-oriented dining spot that is cozy, like being at home. Butter Me Up represents the vision of native Washingtonian Andre McCain, owner of HalfSmoke in the District’s Shaw neighborhood.
His not-so-new breakfast-themed restaurant opened in May at its current location in Bethesda, Md. The concept was birthed as a pop-up at HalfSmoke in May 2020, shortly after the pandemic began.
“It was a scary time. HalfSmoke was closed for indoor dining, so the idea was how can we keep as many people as possible employed,” said McCain, a Morehouse College alumnus. “Secondly, how do we create something that could help brighten up what was very dark and gloomy days?”
Butter Me Up’s menu satisfies any breakfast cravings, plus more. How about the “Staycation,” “Breakfast In Bed” or the “Cinnamon Sugar French Toast Sticks?”
“The idea was to create a place that is appealing to adults and children at the same time,” McCain said.
In thinking about who would come to Butter Me Up, he knew he wanted to appeal to female customers and staff.
He also noticed who came to the pop-up version of Butter Me Up.
“Mostly women were our customers,” he said. “I think moms are more proactive in the morning. In households, they make breakfast and set the tone for the day.”
In the coming months, McCain will open a second Butter Me Up location in the District’s 14th and T streets area in Northwest. He will also open a second location of HalfSmoke at Montgomery Mall in the next few weeks.
McCain has benefited from moving into spaces previously occupied by restaurants that shut down during the pandemic. That’s a financial saving on start-up expenses. His business vision comes from understanding basic traditional survival instincts throughout history.
“African Americans have always been resilient and have overcome challenges,” McCain said about the growth of Black-owned businesses. “I think we’ve seen more of that over the past few years.”
Butter Me Up at Montgomery Mall is open for in-house dining, carryout, and delivery Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, go to the restaurant’s website, https://buttermeupdc.com