by Carole Verona
One night in the spring of 2013, long-time friends and neighbors Jack Craig, 26, and Patrick Doyle, 24, were hanging out, shooting pool and drinking beer. “We both got really hungry and went upstairs to check what was in the fridge. There was a rotisserie chicken and some wonton wrappers, so we broke apart the chicken, made a sauce, formed up the wontons and pan-fried them … and they were really good,” Jack said.
The duo had been kicking around the idea of starting a business. “Neither one of us wanted to go into the workforce and work our way up. We wanted to build something for ourselves. That thought process and the idea of dumplings all came together at the right time for us,” he said. “We started messing around in the kitchen and began catering our dumplings, just for friends and friends of friends.”
The result: Humpty’s Dumplings, a restaurant they opened this past summer at 277 N. Keswick Ave. in Glenside. The restaurant, which serves gourmet, homemade Asian-style dumplings and noodles — with an American twist — does a brisk take-out business, for which it is primarily geared. There is a small dining area inside and a counter where you can eat, and catering is also available. It’s a great place to grab a bite for lunch or before a show, but it’s not a destination for a sit-down dinner.
A neighbor came up with the name, Humpty’s Dumplings. At first, Pat disliked it. “I thought it was too fanciful and not the right fit, but it stuck, and I’m glad it did,” he said, noting that people comment on the name almost as much as they do on the flavors of the dumplings.
Jack and Pat both grew up in Glenside, with their yards backing up to each other.
Jack went to Cheltenham High School and after spending some time at Montgomery County Community College, he went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, with the goal of becoming a pilot. “It wasn’t a great fit for me and was very expensive,” he said. “I came back, tried to regroup and ended up going in this direction.” Pat went to Bishop McDevitt High School and then Penn State, where he received a B.S. degree in 2013 in kinesiology, the study of movement.
Both of their families are part of a bi-monthly dinner club. “Cooking has always been ingrained in our families,” said Jack. “We both learned how to cook at a young age. I worked for about 10 years at Glenside Pizza Shop across the street, and that’s where I got my restaurant experience.” With no formal restaurant experience, Pat prefers to work behind the scenes.
Chef Joe Ermigiotti, 24, a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales Culinary School, handles most of the day-to-day kitchen tasks as well as researching and developing ideas. Joe is part of the Rizzo family, who owned and operated the iconic Rizzo’s pizza restaurant in Glenside for several decades.
Reviewing the menu, Jack explained, “We consider ourselves American fusion with Asian-style construction. The homemade dumplings are shaped like shumai, a traditional Chinese dumpling, and are filled with Americanized flavors that people in this area are familiar with, like cheesesteak, Buffalo chicken and roast pork.”
Humpty’s Dumplings is located in a block of restaurants anchored by the Keswick Theatre. “Our back door leads directly into the theatre’s green room,” said Pat, “so we get a glimpse of and have met several performers, including comedians Sinbad and Bo Burnham. We’re thrilled to have this spot. It’s a cool place to be.”
With the holidays coming up, Jack and Pat are looking forward to a busy catering season. “You can buy our dumplings frozen and reheat them in your oven at your convenience,” said Pat, “or we’ll deliver them hot in chafing dishes. They reheat surprisingly well.”
Humpty Dumplings also offers noodle bowls. “It’s the same idea, the same concept,” said Jack. “Asian-style construction, a homemade lo mein style noodle with some stretch and snap to it. Americanized flavors include cheese steak with peppers, onions, steak and a Cheez Whiz sauce … ”
The majority of online reviews about Humpty’s Dumplings have been overwhelming positive. One person wrote, “You can truly feel/taste the love, care and great quality in them!” Another wrote, “Nothing was less than scrumptious!” This seven-word review summed it up best: “You need these dumplings in your life!”
Dumplings cost $7 for five, except on Wednesdays, when specials are $5 for five. Noodle bowls are $9.43 plus tax.
Humpty’s Dumplings is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
More information at humptysdumplings.com or 215-935-6180.