Q&A: Friday Saturday Sunday Owners on Marriage, QR Code Menus, Pineapple Pizza

Chad and Hanna Williams, the husband-and-wife team behind Friday Saturday Sunday, talk shop before they head to the James Beard Awards this month.

chad and hanna williams, owners of philadelphia restaurant friday saturday sunday, which is up for a James Beard Award

Chad and Hanna Williams, the owners of Philadelphia restaurant Friday Saturday Sunday, which is up for a James Beard Award / Photograph by Linette & Kyle Kielinski

Update 6/5/2023: Congrats to Chad and Hanna Williams for winning Outstanding Restaurant at the 2023 James Beard Awards. Read more here.

Friday Saturday Sunday was one of Philadelphia’s longest-running restaurants — a classic Rittenhouse stop for martinis, mushroom soup and chicken Dijon for more than 40 years. Then a tattooed waitress and a West Philly-raised chef with a Garces pedigree decided to risk it all, buying the place in 2014 and gutting it. Here, Chad and Hanna Williams talk food culture, pineapple pizza, and why on earth they got married in the restaurant’s kitchen — by their general contractor.

Chad, I never do this interview with two people. But when I asked to interview you in light of Friday Saturday Sunday’s nomination for Outstanding Restaurant at the James Beard Awards, you said you’d do it if we included Hanna, so I made an exception. Why was that important to you?
Chad: Hanna is very much the visionary for the restaurant, and it would be remiss not to include her here. From the start, it was all her idea — the location, the concept.

Okay, well, I’ll let you go and just talk to her, then.
Chad: [Laughs] I mean, everybody wants to talk to the chef, but, you know, so much of what makes a restaurant great isn’t the chef. It has to do with the ambience and the vibe and the certain feeling I get from a place. And that has nothing to do with what’s coming out of the kitchen. That’s Hanna.

Hanna, I know you’re front-of-house, but I didn’t realize the concept and location were yours to begin with. How did that all come together?
Hanna: We certainly weren’t in the market to buy a restaurant or open our own. Chad just came home from work at Tela’s in Fairmount one day and mentioned in passing that one of his purveyors had said Friday Saturday Sunday was quietly for sale. And I just kind of blurted out, “Let’s go look at it.” Chad thought I was batshit crazy.

Chad: Totally batshit crazy. My first answer was simply no. Friday Saturday Sunday had been operating continuously for 40 years, so there was a lot of wear and tear. I walked in and realized this was going to have to be a complete teardown. I was rightfully terrified.

Given that this was a new concept, why keep the name?
Hanna: A lot of people had first dates here or got engaged here or had whatever celebrations here over the years. There was a lot of romance attached to it for a lot of people. We still have people come in and tell us, “We had our first date here 40 years ago.”

Chad: Keeping the name was also strategic: We knew that even if people hated it, they would at least give it a try if we kept the old name. We were nobodies.

Chad, I know you grew up in West Philly, but I heard that you got your restaurant start in D.C.
Chad: I went to school at Howard for anthropology and wound up waiting tables at this Afro-Caribbean restaurant in Adams Morgan called Rocky’s Cafe. The chef put out this lamb loin cooked medium rare, with a mango puree. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never seen or tasted anything like that before, and it was just a light-bulb moment. The chef invited me into the kitchen, it all unfolded from there, and I quit college.

How did your family react to that news?
Chad: My mom cried. She called the restaurant to try to get me fired multiple times. Eventually, I wound up at Alma de Cuba when Jose Garces was chef there, and from there on to Amada.

And when did the two of you meet?
Hanna: It was 2007. We were both working at Amada.

Was this a work relationship that became romantic, or was there an immediate spark?
There was most definitely a spark. It was special. She made the best cappuccinos, and I made sure to ask her for one every day.

I’ve heard horror stories about restaurant build-outs and dealing with the city. What was your experience with Friday Saturday Sunday?
Chad: I have to say, the city was absolutely great. We had literally no issues there. They were super-helpful, believe it or not.

This is honestly the first time I’ve heard a restaurateur say that.
Chad: [Laughs]

Hanna: But the contractors … the work was another story. I think we had four contractors before the late Vince Massara actually got us across the finish line. And he even officiated our wedding, on October 13, 2016.

Hold up. Your general contractor married you?!
Hanna: Yes, in the kitchen of Friday Saturday Sunday!

Oh, this just keeps getting better.
Chad: We just kicked all the construction guys out and said, “Hey, Vince, we gotta do this now.” We had plans to have a wedding and all that, but, you know, all the money was gone. We were about to open. And we couldn’t wait any longer.

Hanna: It was the day all the stoves came in. We’d already had a marriage license for a while, and I just put on a dress, and he put on a suit, and Vince married us, and we barhopped around Rittenhouse — Parc, Vernick and some other spots. And our first night of service was December 8, 2016.

Dare I ask how your families felt about this impromptu wedding-in-a-kitchen?
Chad: You can imagine how that worked out.

Hanna: Yeah. It didn’t go over well. At all. But it was very authentic to us. If I had to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing.

Could you have a streetery with the pandemic?
Hanna: Not really. Our setup was across the street from the restaurant, which didn’t really work for the experience we wanted our guests to have. And once we were able to open for indoor dining, we had to reopen at 25 percent capacity, which for us was four tables.

Wow. A whole four tables?
Chad: Yeah, four tables. Eight people. That’s what we were allowed to open with, and that was the birth of our tasting menu, which is all we serve in the dining room today. We had to capitalize on serving so few people. And it’s become a big success for us.

What’s it like being married but also so intertwined in business together?
Chad: In our case, the job puts a time limit on how long we can stay mad at each other, because this is our livelihood and our dream, and we have to work well together and keep the lines of communication open and learn how to put stuff behind us. I also believe there is a certain magic to what it is that we do here, and that the magic helps keep our relationship in this beautiful state.

Friday Saturday Sunday

The Friday Saturday Sunday staff in April 2023 / Photograph by Ted Nghiem

Hanna, I’m assuming things like Yelp and social media fall under your work duties. Do you look at the comments and reviews?
Hanna: I hate to be the one to say this, but I  don’t read what people write online. It’s poison for me. I can’t.

Chad: I actually do read them. At the end of the day, you want somebody to have a great experience, and it hurts in a very personal way when somebody doesn’t. But it does happen. It’s just part of the business.

According to the rumor mill, you have another restaurant or two in you. True?
Hanna: Uh, well, neither of us aspires to be the next Stephen Starr- or Michael Schulson-level restaurateur.

Chad: Well, maybe.

Hanna: Hmmm.

You two are going to have to work this out another time.
Hanna: [Laughs] We do have a few irons in the fire. Completely different concepts.

Okay, so not, like, Friday Saturday Sunday in Radnor?
Chad: No, no, no, no, no sir.

Clearly, you’re hesitant to tell me more about these new restaurants. But would they be in Philly proper?
Hanna: Yes.

Chad: Absolutely. We like it here.

Hanna: We plan to stay in Rittenhouse but are open to other areas. We have a few concepts in mind — one to be enjoyed all day, and one that Frank Sinatra would really like.

So, the restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Do you have time to have any fun on those days?
Chad: Well, we had a pandemic baby, Ruby, who will be three in June, so everything is a little different. When we were open six days a week, we had zero fun, because there’s also all the administrative stuff you have to do that isn’t sexy but has to get done.

Hanna: Adding Ruby to the equation has definitely made me more tired!

Chad: I’ll say this: The day starts much earlier. When you run a restaurant, you might get up at 9:30 or 10. But now, our day starts when Ruby’s does, and that’s usually at 6:30 or seven, and she’s raring to go. She doesn’t really understand that Daddy and Mommy are tired. That’s not a thing.

With an eight-course tasting  menu, how do you handle food allergies and preferences, which these days seem innumerable?
Hanna: To modify the menu for most allergies isn’t really compromising anything for us. But for vegan and dairy-free, it’s just impossible, considering the small operation that we are.

So if I came in tonight, what would I find on the menu?
Chad: There’s charcoal-grilled quail with curried liver pâté and coco bread. We have crispy sweetbreads with a mushroom and plantain ragu, egg-yolk jam, and mushroom vin blanc. One thing we’ve been doing that’s been pretty cool is that at the end of the meal, before dessert, we serve a tea that’s basically made from all the vegetables we used that night. People seem to really like that. We do some things that are fun to eat with your hands. We’ve been doing more finger foods. Not all fine dining needs to be with a knife and fork. We don’t want to be stuffy.

What’s the future of fine dining?
Hanna: It’s interesting. When we pivoted to the tasting menu, we noticed our clientele changed significantly in that it’s a lot more young people. And young people eat a bit differently, but they truly appreciate fine dining. Also, we used to be a special-occasion restaurant. And we still are great for special occasions. But I’ve noticed a lot of young people coming in just on your average Wednesday night for the tasting menu.

Chad, depending on who you ask, something like 10 percent of all restaurants nationwide are Black-owned, and that percentage goes way down when you’re talking about fine-dining establishments. Do you feel a responsibility to be a leader in the industry?
Chad: On one hand, I just wanna cook good food. But I also have a personal responsibility to provide opportunities to people who might not otherwise have them. I need to hold that door open and bring in as many people as I can, and when I look back 30 years from now, I hope I’ll see that I helped people like me live out their dreams.

With a new mayor and Councilmembers on the way, what can they do to help you succeed?
Chad: There are 1,000 things to talk about in terms of the health of the city, but speaking strictly about restaurants and their success, we need more press, and we need more attention for the food in this city. When I worked in Washington, D.C., the food scene wasn’t nearly as good as Philadelphia’s. Now? It’s a premier dining city. A lot of times, we are known for our pub food and our cheese­steaks. We are more than that, and we should be more of a national player. People like Omar Tate, Jesse Ito and Amanda Shulman are unique visionaries who are killing it. They shouldn’t be thought of as “Philadelphia talent.” They should be thought of as national talent.

What’s a restaurant trend you’d love to see go the way of Jell-O molds?
Chad: Ooooh, no, no, no. That is a loaded question!

Hanna: You know what? I can answer that: I would love to see QR codes go away. I hate them.

Chad: Oh, I love them in restaurants.

Hanna: I want a paper menu to hold in my hand. And please don’t give me an iPad menu.

Chad: I love the iPad! You can search on it!

Finally, a marital spat! Can I assume you at least both agree that pineapple does not belong on a pizza?
Chad: That might be Hanna’s death-row meal!

Hanna: I love it!

Chad: It’s disgusting.

Because Restaurateurs Have to Eat, Too

Spread at Cafe Nhan / Photograph by Paolo Jay Agbay

Here’s where the Williams family dines on days off.

Cafe Nhan

“It’s my favorite fast-casual at the moment,” says Chad. “Everything on the menu is world-class.” He digs into the bun bo hue dac biet: beef brisket, pig feet, steamed pork roll and house-made blood cubes in a spicy lemongrass broth. 1606 West Passyunk Avenue.

Bánh Mì & Bottles

“Ruby loves the charbroiled pork vermicelli,” explains Hanna. For the grown-ups? Grilled short ribs and tamarind wings. 712-714 South Street.

Oxtail International Cuisine

The South Philly takeout spot is the family’s go-to for the jerk chicken platter, served with greens, cabbage, rice and peas — and extra gravy on the chicken. 1441 Snyder Avenue.


A Hanna favorite for grilled langostinos and fettuccini Bolognese. “And we don’t leave without seeing the dessert tray,” she notes. 750 South 7th Street.

Honeysuckle Provisions

Chad raves about Omar Tate’s lauded Afrocentric cafe, where he orders the breakfast sandwich with black-eyed pea scrapple and, for lunch, the fish hoagie. 310 South 48th Street.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Published as “Perfect Pairings” in the June 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.