Some people can look at a structure and know exactly how the builders made it. Others can listen to a song and mentally transcribe the notes they are hearing. When Oat Becker, Jonquil Place, tastes something new, she knows exactly what it’s made of.
“We go to restaurants, she’ll taste a sauce and then come back and recreate it. I don’t know what’s up with her palate, but she’s got talent and we’ve got to share it with the world,” said her husband, John Becker. Which is why, when they had the opportunity to buy the former Cocina Mendoza resztaurant in the Lebanon Shops, 300 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard, John left his career in banking to help Oat pursue her dream of owning a restaurant. They opened Time Out Time Eat in December.
John, who is originally from New Hampshire and worked at BNY Mellon for 25 years, was opening an office for them in India when a friend invited him to go to Thailand for the weekend. He met Oat on that trip, who is from a suburb outside Bangkok. They fell in love, got married, built a family and moved to Pittsburgh in 2015.
“We moved here on a lot of good recommendations and a two-week visit,” said John.
They have two daughters, Pear, who is 17 and goes to Mt. Lebanon High School, and Prim, a 6-year-old Howe Elementary School student. Pear learned English in Thailand, but one of the main reasons they chose to live in Mt. Lebanon was because of the reputation of the school district and its ESL (English as a Second Language) Program.
“You would never know that English is her second language now—that’s how good the school system is here,” said John.
Oat, whose real name is Aunchisa (which she says translates roughly to “Girl Power” in Thai), also speaks English. Growing up, her family owned several restaurants, and her time working in them helped fuel her passion for cooking as an adult. Since moving to Pittsburgh, she has eagerly pursued any opportunity to cook for friends and neighbors—from cookouts to birthday parties to holiday gatherings, but often it’s “just because.”
“’You guys need to open a restaurant’ is something we’ve heard over and over again,” said John. So they started the process in January 2020.
The pandemic slowed everything, but they were determined to see it through because the location is perfect for their family. Luckily, the space was in good shape when they were finally able to start working on it, so other than replacing some appliances and making small repairs, the Beckers did not have to do much to get it ready.
Now that the restaurant is open, they each spend a lot of time there. Oat is the chef, John is the host and server, and Pear helps out in the dining room.
“The feedback has been very good. I like to ask for feedback and suggestions,” said Oat. “I love hearing that people enjoy my food.”
The menu is an eclectic mix—Thai food, fried chicken, spicy spaghetti, Indian curry, burritos, pulled pork sandwiches, taco plates—but each item could be classified as “comfort food.” Oat often offers specials as well, including barbecued chicken and pork on the weekends.
“I cook for my customers just like I cook for my family—everything fresh, no processed foods, made exactly how they like it,” said Oat.
At the time this was written, they were open at 50 percent capacity and relying heavily on online pickup orders and delivery services, which has provided a lot of business for them so far. But they are looking forward to a time when their dining room can be full of people enjoying Oat’s cooking.
“We named it Time Out Time Eat because we wanted folks to take time out of their busy days and enjoy her delicious food,” said John. “We’re slow, we’re relaxed. We just want customers to come and stay as long as they want and enjoy the food and company with family and friends.”
For more information, visit www.timeouttimeeat.com.