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A chicken Parmesan sandwich from Hetchy’s Hots on a hoagie roll from Rize Up Bakery, topped with vodka sauce, mozzarella, and basil leaves.
The Vodka Parm sandwich from Hetchy’s Hots and Rize Up Bakery
Priya Kane

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Square Pie Guys Is Bringing Back Its Smash-Hit Hot Chicken Sandwiches for Three Days Only

The spicy chicken sandwiches return to SoMa thanks in part to a collab with up-and-coming bakery Rize Up

San Francisco-based Square Pie Guys made a name for itself based on the strength of its pizza, but for a time the Detroit-style pie shop was also known for another thing: hot chicken sandwiches. Under the Hetchy’s Hots name, the restaurant sold gloriously breaded and fried chicken on brioche buns, but in 2021, pulled the plug on the sandwich program and sent the brand into “hibernation.” Still, the plan was always to bring Hetchy’s Hots back in some capacity, Square Pie Guys owner Marc Schechter says.

So from May 15 to 17, an abbreviated version of Hetchy’s Hots returns to the Mission Street Square Pie Guys location for a limited run. It’s a comeback Schechter has been looking forward to since the restaurant took the sandwiches off the menu. “I love our pizza, it’s no knock on our pizza,” Schechter says. “I just am enamored with the sandwiches in probably a very unhealthy way.”

Marc Schechter of Square Pie Guys and Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery each hold a tray with a chicken parmesan sandwich.
From left, Marc Schechter of Square Pie Guys and Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery.
Priya Kane

Beyond Schechter wanting to bring back the sandwiches, an introduction to a new neighbor in SoMa, Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery also helped spur their return. Anderson’s bakery recently expanded to a new facility on Howard Street, which led to a discussion between Anderson and Schechter about a collaboration. Hetchy’s Hots sandwiches are typically served on a brioche bun, but for this run, Schechter wanted to serve them on hoagie rolls. Although Anderson’s bakery didn’t make a hoagie roll when the idea was initially brought up, he took it as an opportunity to deep dive into a new style of bread. Consulting with recipes and friends from the East and West coasts, Anderson found a bread recipe the team liked but wanted to give the roll a special Rize Up Bakery touch. “If I wasn’t trying to duplicate something, I was just trying to make something beautiful, what would it be?” Anderson says he asked himself. “And then I went from there, and that was the last bit that took me over the edge from decent to really good.”

After some trial bakes, Anderson landed on using oil from confited garlic in the bread, creating a garlic-infused roll. He then rolls the dough in sesame seeds to give it texture and a touch of nuttiness. The interior, meanwhile, has an open crumb that becomes a “carrier” for sauce, he says, while keeping the bread crisp on the outside. The bread will serve as the base for the two Hetchy’s Hots sandwiches available for a three-day pop-up: a vodka-sauced chicken Parmesan sandwich and the return of the Szetchy Hot. The Vodka Parm features a breaded and fried chicken cutlet smothered in vodka sauce, topped with fresh mozzarella, and rounded off with a Calabrian chile compound butter. The Szetchy Hot is a fried chicken cutlet sandwich made with a blend of Szechuan spices the restaurant uses on its wings. They then dunk it in spicy oil and serve it with pickled red onions and a house-made Kewpie-style mayo.

The sandwiches retail for $16.50 each, with just 50 sandwiches available each day of the pop-up. Diners can nab them via an Eventbrite ticket according to which day they prefer to come by; each $5 ticket is a deposit toward a sandwich available for dine-in only at 1077 Mission Street from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Both Anderson and Schechter are aware of the so-called “doom loop” narrative that’s been circling about downtown San Francisco, which is part of the reason they wanted the sandwiches to be available only for dine-in. As business owners in SoMa they wanted to do something to highlight the neighborhood in a positive way. “I feel like it takes a lot of people that really want to make something of their beautiful city in order to make it work,” Anderson says. “When you have more people that are talking about leaving and less people talking about making change, it does start to take a slant in one direction.’”

Schechter acknowledges there are issues in the SoMa district, but he doesn’t want to give up. Rather, he’s looking to be among those rebuilding and working with the community. “We want to bring people back into SoMa,” Schechter says, “even if it’s just to remind people there are businesses in SoMa that are thinking about you, we want to take care of you and give you good food.”

A chicken parmesan sandwich on a metal quarter-sheet tray. Priya Kane

Hetchy’s Hots (1077 Mission Street) returns May 15 to 17 for dine-in only between 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with pre-orders available via Eventbrite.

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