The Foodture is Now

Back To The Future is a captivating movie, capturing the hearts of generations.  Back to the Foodture was a fantastic Pittsburgh restaurant, capturing the taste buds of locals and visitors alike. However, earlier this year, Hollywood drama unfolded when Universal Studios came to town and it became clear that these two institutions could not exist in the same timeline.

 For the past several years, a culinary gem – formerly known as Back to the Foodture – has been delighting the taste buds and capturing the nostalgic hearts of Pittsburghers in the Southside and Uptown. It was founded by the talented culinary duo, Eddie “Barnz” Magwood and Angel Magwood.

However, earlier this year, the culinary dream team received a dramatic and unexpected ultimatum from Hollywood. In a cease and desist letter delivered to the Magwoods, the couple was demanded to deactivate all Back to the Foodture social media platforms, stop using Back to the Future branding, and change their name – or face an expensive lawsuit.

This left many asking Universal, “Where’s the beef?” Claiming a trademark infringement, the production studio, owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast, brought the drama to Pittsburgh. The social media announcement from the Magwoods that all locations would be permanently closing caused an uproar among their followers and loyal customers. Citing an inability to pay for what would certainly be a financially draining legal battle or exorbitant rebranding expenses, the couple felt they had no other choice but to shutter the doors and focus on other businesses they own and operate.

However,  the Magwoods listened to the feedback of the community – some offering advice to change the name and rebrand, others outright begging the couple to keep the restaurants open. Ultimately, they decided to continue delivering the beef – after all, they are the proud creators of the famous “Big Poppa” burger, consisting of two half-pound patties, cheese, and bacon sandwiched between 3 glazed donuts.

In order to understand how they arrived at that decision, we must first go Back to the Foodture: founded in the small Pittsburgh suburb of Pitcairn in June 2019, the original Back to the Foodture location was the first restaurant for the Magwoods. Angel’s culinary expertise heated up the grill, offering a menu boasting 76 chicken wing flavors and 15  juicy, mouth-watering hamburgers. Her unique layering of flavors won over the hearts of patrons. Barnz’s artistic flair adorned the restaurant with vintage decor and photos, creating a charming and inviting atmosphere that appealed to all ages. Gaining a reputation as the best wings in town, they quickly outgrew the space in Pitcairn and decided to move.

In May 2021, Back to the Foodture relocated to the Southside Works, where they continued to delight customers with an expanded menu. Building off their early success in Pitcairn, the Southside Works location offered even more: topping out at 130 wing flavors, 30 burgers, a variety of grilled cheeses, fries, hot dogs, and combos. With items like the “Snoop Dogg,” a hot dog wrapped in bacon, grilled to perfection, and topped with 24K sauce, the new location pushed the limits of culinary creativity.

However, their culinary prowess was truly put to the test when they opened a full-service, 160-seat restaurant across from PPG Paints Arena in Uptown in January 2023. New challenges arose due to staffing shortages and the need for lightning-speed service for customers on their way to events at PPG. The Magwoods faced those challenges head-on, scaling back their menu to create shorter wait times and better customer experiences.

These successes gave the team the confidence to expand even further – this time through franchising. After meeting with attorneys, applying for and acquiring a trademark, and starting the necessary processes to create their franchise, the Magwoods were elated that their dreams were coming true and they were looking forward to the future. But it was this very process that garnered the attention of Universal’s legal team and pulled them back into the reality of the present.

The studio claimed that the restaurant’s name and graphics bore too much resemblance to their iconic Back to the Future franchise. In July, the Magwoods announced the permanent closure of both remaining locations and an end to their franchising dream.

And that was a wrap. Until it wasn’t.

After an outpouring of love and support from the community, Barnz and Angel Magwood knew they had to find a way to remain open in some capacity. So they went back in time – and back to the drawing board – to quickly rebrand. They decided to close the Southside Works location in order to focus solely on the Uptown spot. With a shortened name, The Foodture now features a space decidedly absent of Deloreans and a scaled back menu devoid of Hollywood inspiration (say goodbye to the McFly and Doc Brown burgers). However, these changes don’t mean you won’t get the same great flavors and experiences as before. The Foodture is still serving up some of the best food in town.

The Magwoods have put their franchising plans on hold for now and have set their sights on a new journey: opening a mobile food truck in the next year. No word yet on whether it will require a flux capacitor to run.

While we may no longer be able to exclaim “Great Scott!” in response to a delicious meal at The Foodture, Barnz and Angel Magwood deserve a “Great Job!” for continuing to follow their dreams.

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