Pyro’s Pastrami, an Oakland-based sandwich pop-up, will soon purvey pastramis on rye for Berkeley residents’ procurement in a new, permanent deli.
The twee pop-up has revolutionary overtones on its website and affectionately calls its supporters “pyromaniacs.” Currently located in the Jack London District on Broadway Avenue and Embarcadero West, Pyro’s originally started as “pure destiny that manifested during a last minute trip” that spanned the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its website.
“It’s the best thing in the world to put on a sandwich,” said Cash Caris, chef and co-founder. “Pastrami is unlike any other cured meat.”
Pyro’s Pastrami serves the Black Angus Beef from Cream Co. Meats in Oakland, along with locally sourced vegan pastrami made of celeriac, according to its website. The restaurant also buys its spices from Oaktown Spice Shop and bakes its own rye bread made with flour from Central Milling in Petaluma.
Caris said he has been working on pastrami recipes for six and a half years.
Co-founder Anahita Cann said she and Caris, while doing initial research and development, found there is a significant population of East Coast and New York transplants in the East Bay. This insight further inspired their plan to serve pastrami.
Neither Caris nor Cann are originally from the East Coast — in fact, they were raised in San Jose.
“A lot of people are puzzled that we cherish this food so much, but when they taste it, they see we are serious,” Cann said. “The East Coast is really close to our heart, but we’re not from there.”
Cann said she and Caris started Pyro’s Pastrami as a pop-up to initially reduce overhead costs. Fulfilling demand, she added, was one of their biggest challenges — she and Caris usually worked 16 hours to make 100 sandwiches.
Caris and Cann felt “privileged” to work at the pop-up during the pandemic despite risking contracting the coronavirus because he would see “people’s eyes light up” for having had human connection, he said.
“I’ve been in this industry for 22 years, and I’ve wanted to have my own establishment forever,” Caris said. “This brand deserves its own space.”
Pyro’s Pastrami is LGBTQ+, people of color and ally-owned, according to its website. The restaurant also hopes to serve like-minded, self identified “revolutionaries,” according to its website.
Caris said, first and foremost, Pyro’s Pastrami aligns itself with safe space advocacy. Pyro’s Pastrami stands for underrepresented people in the trans, Black and LGBTQ+ communities, he added.
“We are a safe space,” Cann said. “We stand by and align ourselves with these communities. When our deli location opens, we are going to do more campaigns for these communities — with the brick and mortar, we can raise our platform and raise awareness.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Anahita Cann is a chef at Pyro’s Pastrami. In fact, she works in front of the house.