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Casual dining options come to Lawrenceville with The Vandal, Smoke BBQ Taqueria and more

Joey Hilty, formerly of Bar Marco, and Emily Slagel, owner of Lawrenceville boutique Mid-Atlantic Mercantile, are bringing casual dining and approachable fare to Central Lawrenceville with The Vandal, opening in May at 4306 Butler St.
 
The duo explained that they were inspired by their dining experiences in cities throughout Iceland and Europe. They wanted to create a neighborhood dining experience on the Butler corridor.
 
“Amidst the evolving dining culture in Pittsburgh, we saw a real need for an affordable, convivial eatery,” Hilty said. “Our intent is for The Vandal to be an everyday neighborhood spot where you can grab dinner with your friends or a lunch alone with a book and your laptop.” 
 
The Vandal isn’t the only casual dining experience coming to Lawrenceville -- Smoke BBQ Taqueria opened this week at 4115 Butler St. While the soft opening boasts irregular hours, the smoked meats, migas and breakfast tacos are being met with a warm welcome. Owners Jeff Petruso and Nelda Carranco are from Austin, making it a bona fide Texas joint. Feb. 16 will mark the first Smoke Monday, where customers can can bring Smoke tacos to Row House Cinema next door to enjoy with a movie. Atlas Bottle Works, within Row House, is also conveniently adjacent to Smoke to fit the restaurant's BYOB policy.
 
Allegro Hearth Bakery’s owner Omar Abuhejleh also has plans to open a vegan and Mediterranean café, bakery and coffee shop at 5202 Butler St. in May. And, Morcilla, the second Lawrenceville venture from chef Justin Severino of Cure, will open this summer at 3519 Butler St. In a previous interview with Pop City, Severino said the new restaurant will be a casual, neighborhood restaurant with shareable snacks and tapas.
 
Open for lunch and dinner, The Vandal plans to offer an ingredient-driven menu six days a week. Sandwiches and snacks will be available all day with larger offerings, like steak frites, available for dinner only. Hilty plans on building the menu using what is fresh and seasonally available. The result will be menu items like a lamb sausage sandwich with tahini-spiked potato salad. Sandwiches will start at $8 while larger portioned dinners will start at $14.

For beverages, the restaurant will have a range of soft drinks from house-made lavender-hibiscus soda to Korean apple soda as well as a BYOB policy. Hilty said he hopes to eventually have a liquor license for the venue and to collaborate with Lawrenceville breweries and bottle shops.
 
While the name The Vandal has a strong, almost aggressive, sound to it, Hilty explained that the atmosphere will be far from threatening. Conversely, he said the design will be soft, cozy and minimalist.
 
“It’s important for us to design a warm, community-focused space,” Slagel said. “Through the union of food and design, we are able to cultivate the experiences that we want to have in our city.” 
 
Slagel’s vision and attention to detail will displayed throughout the intimate 30-seat space, from the custom bench seating to the menu design. Future plans include updating the rear outdoor patio into a beer garden or al fresco space with a wood-fired pizza oven.
  
While The Vandal is not slated to open until May, Hilty will host a menu preview at Bar Marco’s no-menu Monday on March 2.  For more information, visit www.thevandalpgh.com.
 
 
Source: The Vandal, Joey Hilty

Supporting Pittsburgh's homeless in powerful, creative ways

With temperatures dropping to dangerous digits, homeless shelter options are making the news this winter. Pittsburgh students and officials have presented lifesaving ideas, technology and housing. Now, via an Indiegogo.com campaign, any Pittsburgher can take action.
 
Carnegie Mellon University students recently made headlines for their heated pop-up homeless shelters, which use aerospace technology to convert a portable sleeping bag into a durable winter shelter. Last week, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $15.5 million Continuum of Care grant to Allegheny County. The grant will go toward the county's Department of Human Services and its efforts to reduce homelessness.
 
The Department of Human Services will administer the grant funds to 25 agencies that provide housing and vital services to the homeless. The county department will contribute fiscal and operational support, and monitor service through regular site visits.

But one Pittsburgh resident is working to create a local homeless shelter at the community level via an Indiegogo campaign, The Pittsburgh Home.
 
“In second grade, my class was asked to draw a picture of how we envisioned our lives when we were older. I drew a picture of a big house with tons of strangers living in it and lots of hearts all over,” Jon Potter says on the Indiegogo page about his inspiration for The Pittsburgh Home. In a follow-up interview, he joked, “I guess it was a second grader’s version of what a co-op would be.”
 
Potter said he thought he had accomplished this dream with his Lawrenceville hostel, which has hosted 3,000 people in its three years in operation. But, Potter says he realized that he wanted to do more and create a safe and free place for the homeless men and women of Pittsburgh.
 
Last month, Potter took to Reddit, r/Pittsburgh, and asked the community for support on his journey to opening a homeless shelter. The response was huge. Through the post, he connected with a real estate agent, several contractors, local restaurants and food pantries and a nonprofit that is helping him secure 501c3 status.
 
“Most of the big things that we needed, Reddit came through with,” Potter said.
 
He added that The Pittsburgh Home is looking to help people who are actively working toward a goal to better themselves. Through his hostel, Potter said he has encountered many people who have been through a fire or another event that leads them to needing longer term housing than most homeless shelters allow.
 
He said The Pittsburgh Home would also provide the “most important thing” someone needs to make a change: an address. Potter explained that you can’t vote or apply for a job without an address.
 
The Pittsburgh Home page on Indiegogo is now active and working toward a $50,000 goal to buy a house. Donors are eligible for prizes including a personal hakiu written by Potter or a paragliding lesson from Potter, who is also a professional paraglider. These prizes were offered in the past, when Potter created an Indiegogo campaign that helped The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop get back on its feet. 
 
From the hostel to the sandwich shop to the homeless shelter, why does Potter give so much to the city?
 
His answer was simple, “Pittsburgh is just the friendliest city on the planet.”
 
 
Source: Jon Potter, Office of the County Executive, The Pittsburgh Home

God rest ye merry, gentlemen: Hit up Manta Claus for a night of manly holiday shopping

When it comes to holiday shopping, are you man enough?
 
Manta Claus is back on Butler Street this year to prove to men --  and women -- that holiday shopping doesn’t have to be about braving the mall or fighting crowds. In fact, it can be a fun, local experience.
 
In 2011, a group of Lawrenceville businesses started Manta Claus, a last-minute holiday shopping extravaganza for men (and, let’s face it, anyone) who put off holiday gift purchasing. The last last-minute shopping event returns to Lawrenceville from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.
 
“[It’s] more or less a way to coerce men to come out and shop local,” said Pageboy Salon & Boutique owner Dana Bannon about the holiday event.
 
She added that Manta Claus started as a solution for men who shop impersonally online, grab a gift card or avoid the mall.  Bannon added that Lawrenceville businesses participating in Manta Claus also promise to help shoppers find the perfect gift.
 
And, just as Butler Street has grown, so has the holiday shopping event. Businesses up and down Butler Street will be offering free drinks, snacks, no-cost gift-wrapping and lots of great gift guidance.
 
Additionally, food trucks will be parked near 45th Street. Hitchhiker Brewing will be on hand at Pageboy Salon & Boutique to offer tastings of winter beers. And Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches will also be handing out treats at Pageboy.
 
Pageboy (3613 Butler St.) will also offer 10% off men's and women's grooming products, $25 gift certificates for $20 and free beard trims by a student barber. Divertido (3609 Butler St.) will offer 10% off all purchases, free snacks and beer. Jules (4502 Butler St.) will feature 10% off all menswear, plus $25 credit for every $100 spent. Jupe (3703 Butler St.) will be offering $10 off every $40 spent. Mid-Atlantic Mercantile (4415 Butler St.) will also give 10% off all purchases. Mister Grooming & Goods (4504 Butler St.) will offer 10% off grooming products. Atlas Bottle Works (4115 Butler St.) will host a holiday beer tasting. Pavement (3629 Butler St.) will provide snacks, free gift-wrapping and specials. And, Matthew Buchholz will be signing his book "Alternate Histories of the World” at Wildcard
 
Garbella Studio (5202 Carnegie St., one block off Butler and 52nd streets) will be open to the public, providing refreshments and complimentary gift-wrapping. An open house studio at Perry And Co. (5212 Butler St.) will feature FareFeathers Jewelry and 25% off -- shoppers are also welcome to enjoy their fireplace overlooking Butler with free drinks.
 
“This is the first year that we’ve had more than two or three of us … and it’s amazing the amount of camaraderie we have between businesses,” Bannon said. 
 
She added that as Butler Street has expanded, she has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of community that she still feels. Instead of competing salons and retailers, she says, Lawrenceville remains a friendly network of small businesses.
 
 
Source: Matthew Buchholz, Dana Bannon 

Cure chef and owner to open second Lawrenceville restaurant

The social experience of shared, small-plates dining will shape the aesthetic and the cuisine at Morcilla, the second restaurant from Justin Severino, award-winning chef and owner of Cure

Severino recently announced plans to open Morcilla, his second Lawrenceville venture, in summer 2015.
 
Located at 3519 Butler St., Spanish tapas spot Morcilla will be just a few blocks from Cure, Severino’s critically lauded urban Mediterranean restaurant. Hilary Prescott Severino, Justin’s wife and business partner, will co-own Morcilla and oversee the wine program, similar to her role at Cure. Spain will dominate the beverage options with a wide variety of wines and sherries as well as hard-to-find Spanish cider.
 
“I love Spanish food, and coming up in the industry I cooked under serious Spanish-trained chefs like Manresa’s David Kinch,” Severino said. “Spanish cooking has been a major influence on what I do at Cure, and I’m thrilled to be bringing a complete Spanish dining experience to Pittsburgh. One of my favorite aspects of Spanish cuisine is the social experience of shared, small plates dining. Morcilla is going to be a true neighborhood spot, a place to relax with a glass of wine and a quick bite at the bar after work, or a family-style dinner with friends.”
 
The 3,800-square-foot restaurant will boast a 54-seat dining room, 10-seat bar, 6-seat chef’s counter and 40-seat private dining room, making Morcilla larger and more casual than Cure. The menu will foster a convivial environment with a focus on sharable small plates and larger dishes served family-style. Severino said he envisions Morcilla as a neighborhood spot where one could stop on their way home from work for a full-blown meal or snacks with a cocktail.
 
The menu, like Cure, will focus on meats and charcuterie and will be driven, according to Severino, by a charbroiler, a smoker and la plancha (a flattop grill). The name Morcilla actually means blood sausage, though the definition can vary regionally.  
 
The tapas will include traditional mariscos tapa, consisting largely of raw, pickled and smoked shellfish. Mason jars will be both the preservation and serving vessels for the Escabeche y Conservas, which will include duck with fruit jam, marinated cheeses and grilled tomato and zucchini, all served with grilled bread. Pintxos, skewered bites traditionally served in bars, will feature octopus, pork belly and, of course, morcilla.
 
Severino also noted that the larger site of Morcilla will allow for dishes he can’t currently try at Cure, like more canning and a larger space to butcher whole animals. The kitchen will include a dedicated curing station, where executive sous chef Nate Hobart will create both Spanish and Italian-style charcuterie for Morcilla and Cure, respectively.
 
Similar to Cure, Severino will dictate Morcilla's design, sourcing counters, cabinets, tables and chairs from Pittsburgh’s Kramer Customs. Polished old-wood floors and ceilings and exposed brick walls accented by woodblock art prints by the nearby Tugboat Print Shop will give the space a lived-in, neighborhood vibe. 
 
Severino grew up in a small town in Ohio and has worked in fine dining establishments in several cities, but said the atmosphere of Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville specifically, feels like home. “It’s a blue-collar town,” he said, “and [my wife and I] really relate to it.”
 
Morcilla will be open summer 2015 for dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with lunch and dinner served on Saturdays and Sundays.
 
 
Source: Cure, Justin Severino

Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey expand distribution throughout Pittsburgh

The popularity of craft beer in Pittsburgh means there's always a market for a new kid on the block. This time, it's the seasonal and core brews from California-based Port Brewing getting ready to expand distribution throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Already a fixture in Philadephia, Port Brewing will kick off its expansion in the Pittsburgh area with events around the city starting Nov. 17.  
 
Per an agreement with Wilson-McGinley, Port Brewing, which is headquartered out of San Marcos, Calif., will begin selling core and seasonal products from its Port Brewing and Lost Abbey labels in the newly added market this year. The company’s full portfolio of offerings will be available next fall.
 
Adam Martinez, media and marketing director for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, said the Port Brewing side offers American reds and hoppy beers, while The Lost Abbey brand produces the brewery’s Belgian-style and sour beers. Some of the first seasonal favorites to hit the Pittsburgh market will be the High Tide, which boasts a hoppy flavor, and Santa’s Little Helper, an imperial stout.
 
“We certainly did our homework and due diligence to find the right wholesaler partner to represent our brands in the western PA region,” said Brian Sauls, national sales manager for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. “We feel Wilson-McGinley represents the same core values as Lost Abbey/Port Brewing. And, that contagious passion and enthusiasm for great craft beer, shared with our current amazing group of distributors, makes this a partnership we are looking forward to.”
 
Fritz Wilson and Jack McGinley opened Wilson-McGinley, Inc. in Lawrenceville in 1949. They currently represent 12 counties in western Pennsylvania and handle more than 150 brands.
 
To help serve the market, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey have hired their first East Coast sales representative, Matt Pushinsky -- who has previously worked in Pennsylvania with Belukus Importing and in California with Sovereign Brands.
 
“Pittsburgh is an exciting and enthusiastic market to work in,” Pushinsky said. “I look forward to opening the new territory and working with Wilson-McGinley to bring Port and Lost Abbey to western PA.”
 
Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey Chief Operating Owner Tomme Arthur said the Pittsburgh expansion was attractive because of the beer’s success in Philadelphia. 
 
“The people in the great state of Pennsylvania have embraced our beer,” Arthur said.
 
Founded in 2006, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey produce an extensive line-up of continental and American-inspired ales and lagers. The company’s beers, many of which are aged in oak barrels for 12 months or longer, are recognized for their complexity, unique flavors and bold styles.  
 
To celebrate the new partnership, Arthur will travel to Pittsburgh for a week of events at bars, six-pack shops, grocery stores and restaurants. The schedule can be found at lostabbey.com/pittsburgh/.
 
 
Source: Brewbound.com, Tomme Arthur, Adam Martinez

Local chocolatier plans $2.5 million expansion in Lawrenceville, creating 51 jobs

Continuing to advance his JOBS1st PA initiative, Gov. Tom Corbett announced last week that Edward Marc Brands, Inc., a manufacturer of gourmet chocolates, will expand operations in Allegheny County and create 51 jobs in the City of Pittsburgh.
 
Edward Marc Brands, operator of The Milk Shake Factory in South Side, has entered into a lease of a 50,000-square-foot space in Lawrenceville on 38th Street at the former Geyer printing site near the Allegheny River and 40th Street Bridge. The company plans to invest more than $2.5 million at the new facility, and has also committed to creating at least 51 new jobs and retaining 36 positions during the next three years.
 
“Pennsylvania is the keystone of American manufacturing, and by partnering with companies like Edward Marc Brands, we are promoting the growth of this job-sustaining industry,” Gov. Corbett said. “I am pleased that we are helping fourth-generation chocolate manufacturers grow where the family tradition started: right here in Pennsylvania.”
 
The Lawrenceville expansion will support the newly launched line of confections called Snappers, a gourmet sweet snack made with pretzels, caramel and chocolate. Edward Marc Brands, Inc. is a boutique-style chocolatier founded by the Edwards family in 1914. The Snappers line has received nationwide media attention on programs like The Today Show, Good Morning America and Fox Business TV.
 
Edward Marc received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $100,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant that facilitates investment and job creation, $51,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and $22,950 grant for WEDnetPA that will be used to train the expanding workforce. The company was approved to receive a $500,000 loan from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.
 
“Our family business is built upon innovation and the dedication of hardworking Americans. We are honored to be recognized as a leader in job creation and food manufacturing in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Chris Edwards, Edward Marc Brands, Inc. CEO.
 
The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the Governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.
 
Source: Office of Governor Tom Corbett

Lawrenceville's mini-milestone: Wildcard turns five

When owner Rebecca Morris opened Wildcard at 4209 Butler St. in October 2009, Lawrenceville was a different place. Since then, the neighborhood has transformed into one of the city’s most active communities. And Wildcard has been a key player in the neighborhood's retail revitalization.
 
Morris moved to Lawrenceville from Shaler Township in 2003 and said she wanted to open the shop in her own back yard. When she first opened the stationery, craft and gift shop, she said she had to invest in word of mouth and getting people to come to Lawrenceville. While there was some foot traffic, it was nothing like the bustling weekend shoppers the neighborhood sees today.
 
“So many businesses have opened, even in the last five years,” she said. “I really like that a lot of them are not chains … [they are] a lot of small businesses.”
 
On Saturday, Oct. 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wildcard will host its Fifth Anniversary Fantastic Festival of Fun, which will include free tote bags to the first 200 customers who spend $10 or more. The event will feature coffee from Espresso a Mano in the morning and an in-store scavenger hunt to win a Wildcard gift card or giant prize basket. And the store will also host an Artist & Small Business Owner Happy Hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
 
The happy hour will feature several of Wildcard’s artists and vendors, including Nick Caruso (MakeBelieveIt.com), Allison Glancey (strawberryluna.com), Becki Hollen & Chris Bencivenga (EverydayBalloonsShop.com), Amy Garbark (GarbellaDesign.com) and Matthew Buchholz (AlternateHistories.com).
 
The Fifth Anniversary Fantastic Festival of Fun will also celebrate the grand opening of Wildcard’s online store, set to launch on the same day. Morris said the online shop was created for customers wanting to send gifts outside of Pittsburgh. She noted that it may take some time for Wildcard’s entire collection to be featured online, but Pittsburgh-inspired items will be some of the first to premiere on the website.
 
Wildcard’s fifth anniversary is also part of Full Time Pittsburgh, a city-wide, open-source festival with events that center around art, design, small business, music and creativity. The festival will run at various locations throughout the city from Thursday, Oct. 16, to Sunday, Oct. 19. Learn more at fulltimepgh.com.
 
Morris thanked Lawrenceville and Pittsburgh for the past five years and invites Pittsburghers to come out and enjoy the free event on Saturday.


Source: Wildcard, Rebecca Morris 

Urban gardening shop opens in Lawrenceville

Lawrenceville welcomed an urban gardening store last week with the opening of City Grows, a new gardening and gift shop with an urban twist.

Located at 5208 Butler St. in Upper Lawrenceville, the organic garden shop specializes in container and vertical gardens for the city dweller. City Grows carries fresh herbs and vegetables, dry herbs, composters, rain barrels and educational gardening books. The store also offers an array of green gifts, from organic skincare products to candles. 
 
"Everything is made from recycled or reclaimed wood," said City Grows owner Patty Logan of her shop’s unique container materials. She described merchandise from vertical container gardens made from re-used mason jars to sustainable hangers for indoor herb gardens.
 
Logan said the opening was catered by neighboring Upper Lawrenceville shop 52nd Street Market and offered acoustic music and raffles. She said the opening was well-received in the neighborhood.
 
“Lawrenceville, on its own, is growing as a young urban population,” she said, noting residents have an interest in gardens but lack the space. “People here get it …  I knew when I had the concept to do this shop this is exactly where I needed to be."
 
In the future, Logan hopes to offer chicken coops and beekeeping equipment. City Grows will also provide classes in organic gardening, beekeeping and backyard chickens.

The Urban Gardener on Brighton Road in the North Side sowed the seeds of the urban gardening trend when it opened in 1997 at the site of an abandoned gas station. The shop has been supplying city dwellers with gardening essentials ever since.

Source: City Grows, Patty Logan 
 

Pittsburgh PARK(ing) Day is back Friday with installations throughout the city

For one day only, parking spaces will transform across the city into small parks, green spaces and even a beach in an effort to get citizens talking about sustainability and transportation.

Tomorrow, Sept. 19, is PARK(ing) Day, an annual, international one-day event where artists, designers and citizens can transform parking spots into small parks and art installations.
 
This is PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh’s seventh year. The event began in San Francisco in 2005 and its message has travelled around the world. PARK(ing) Day is an opportunity to get communities talking about improvements, green space and transportation while thinking creatively.
 
This year, Pittsburgh’s pop-up parks stem from neighborhood improvement initiatives and fun. PARK(ing) Day Committee Member Thor Erickson said the Polish Hill Civic Association will use traffic cones to create a discussion about street traffic.  Erickson said the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, Pittsburgh Parking Authority, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Penn Future, Design Center and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership are collaborating in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue, downtown, to showcase urban improvement efforts.
 
Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council members will transform their parking spaces into a beach, according to Erickson.
 
The Lawrenceville Bike and Pedestrian Committee organized a mini golf course along Butler Street, between Doughboy Square and 39th Street, as part of the neighborhood’s PARK(ing) Day initiatives. Breakfast, lunch and dinner golfing sessions will be offered, with a party and music by DJ Duke to follow in the Iron City Bikes and Franktuary parking lot from 6 PM to 8 PM.
 
To find PARK(ing) Day events in your neighborhood, Parking Day Pittsburgh has provided a map with events and times listed throughout the city. 
 
 
Source: PARK(ing) Day, PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville Pittsburgh, Thor Erickson, Lawrenceville Bike and Pedestrian Committee 

Mobile boutique sets up shop in Lawrenceville

When Samantha Lugo was visiting family in New York in 2013, she frequented her first boutique on wheels. She says she was so inspired by the clothes-truck, that she said, “That’s it, I’m bringing this to Pittsburgh!”
 
In July 2013, Lugo did just that and launched Broke Little Rich Girl, Inc. mobile boutique. After one year on the road, Broke Little Rich Girl opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Lawrenceville on Saturday, Sept. 6.
 
Lugo says the 3816 Butler Street store features her signature selection of “urban” and “edgy” designs. She explains that by first launching the mobile shop, she was able to test the Pittsburgh market with styles and see what would sell at a permanent address.
 
“Lawrenceville is just such an up and coming neighborhood,” Lugo says about choosing a site for her store.“I love the vibe.”
 
The Lawrenceville location will offer a wider selection of clothing and sizes. Lugo notes that clothes will be at the same price point as the mobile unit. She said the truck will still roll around Pittsburgh and is available for private parties like “ladies nights,” where cupcakes and wine are included in her rental fee.
 
The store’s opening featured food and drink provided by local businesses, several from Lawrenceville neighbors, including Pittsburgh Winery, La Gourmandine and Coca Café.
 
Source: Samantha Lugo, Broke Little Rich Girl

Local architect's home featured in Dwell magazine

The Lawrenceville home of Andrew Moss, president of mossArchitects, and Michelle Yanefski, an electrical engineer, is featured in the July/August issue of Dwell magazine.
 
Moss says he and his wife Yanefski sent Dwell images of the home some time ago. They are being featured in the magazine for their “budget driven,” “modern” home.
 
Moss and Yanefski designed the space together.

“We worked to have a modern home,” Moss says. He adds that it is a unique experience to design a house based on one’s own lifestyle. “It’s a great opportunity to design your own home.”
 
He explains that the materials used to build the home were distinct and reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s industrial past — for example, the house’s metal siding. Another noteworthy aspect of the Lawrenceville abode is how it’s sited, according to Moss. The house is not part of a series of row houses, like much of the neighborhood.
 
“It’s an honor,” Moss says about being featured in Dwell. “I also think it’s a great thing for Pittsburgh.”
 
In conjunction with Moss’s mention, Dwell is running a Pittsburgh City Guide online with tips from Moss. Butler Street businesses Cure and Who New? in Lawrenceville are on the list alongside Pittsburgh institutions such as the Andy Warhol Museum.  
 
 
Source: mossArchitects, Andrew Moss 

Throwback Thursday: The Church Brew Works

For more than 17 years, The Church Brew Works has been a Lawrenceville watering hole that attracts Pittsburghers from near and far. It’s obvious that the building was not always a brewery — in fact, that is a part of the Brew Works’ namesake and its charm and appeal.
 
St. John the Baptist Church on Liberty Avenue was built in 1902 by twin brothers Louis and Michael Beezer with John Comes as lead architect, according to Sean Casey, The Church Brew Works owner.  Beezer, Beezer and Comes were employed to design the church, rectory, school and convent.
 
“Catholics would build [the] church first,” Casey said. “Pay [the] debt, and raise funds and build a school and convent next.”
 
He added that the rectory would be built last, St. John’s was constructed in 1923.

This team of architects were known as some of the period’s best craftsmen. They produced the church’s most loved details like the hand-painted cypress beams on the high vaulted ceiling, the intricate glass windows and the campanile.
 
St. John the Baptist survived a fire in 1915, both World Wars and the Depression. When the Diocese of Pittsburgh underwent a major reorganization in 1993, after years of declining congregations and financial constraints, the Lawrenceville church had to close its doors.
 
In 1996, The Church Brew Works revitalized the site after three years of dormancy. Casey said he was inspired to open a brewery in the space out of appreciation for its architecture and “experience having been in some legacy brewpubs in Germany that have been around for two hundred years.”
 
The legacy of St. John was considered during its transition into The Church Brew Works. Their website details the “painstaking effort” that was taken to preserve the church’s glory.
 
Mini pews were constructed from the church’s original benches for guest seating, and the excess oak from shortening the pews was used to build the bar. The original Douglas Fir floors were uncovered and restored after being hidden under plywood for decades. And, the blue apse is perhaps The Church Brew Work’s most iconic detail.  This classic altar is now the heart of the Brew Works as it houses its steel and copper tanks.

This post is part of a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings.

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source:  Sean Casey, Patty Goyke, The Church Brew Works

Food & Wine magazine spotlights Pittsburgh twice

Last week, Food & Wine magazine named Justin Severino, chef and owner at Cure in Lawrenceville, the People’s 2014 Best New Chef, Mid-Atlantic region.
 
“We're obviously thrilled,” Severino said. “It's always great to be recognized for your hard work, and it feels really good to win as a Pittsburgh chef going up against some of the big names from Philly and DC.”
 
Severino and Cure have won a myriad of honors. Severino was a 2014 James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic and he was awarded Pittsburgh Magazine Star Chef 2013. In 2012, Cure was named one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine. The restaurant was also selected as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 25 Best Restaurants in 2012.  
 
This time, patrons were the judge. Foodies were invited to vote for their favorite chefs on Food & Wine’s website. Severino was selected by popular vote.
 
“The Pittsburgh community has been wonderful, and this win would have been impossible without them,” he said. “It's very gratifying to see Pittsburgh start to get some national recognition as a real food city. It's deserved it for a while — we couldn't do what we do at Cure, or any of the city's other great restaurants, without a strong community of sophisticated diners.”
 
Food & Wine also recently recognized Café Phipps at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as one of the top museum resta urants in the country. Food & Wine noted the café’s green mission.The article states, “Chef Stephanie Gelberd often sources ingredients from the conservatory's edible garden.”
 
Richard Piacentini, Phipps Executive Director, said the café tries to stay as “green as possible” while also “serving great food.”
 
He said the restaurant composts, does not sell bottled water, uses real or compostable silverware and serves local (sometimes fresh from the garden) and organic food. The Café Phipps is a three star green certified restaurant — one of two certified green restaurants in Pittsburgh, according to Piacentini.  

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Justin Severino, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

52nd Street Market will open Saturday

The 52nd Street Market, a joint effort of Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley to bring a locally sourced corner grocery store to Lawrenceville, will open its doors on Saturday.

Located at 601 52nd Street in the space which years ago housed the Bloomfield Market, the 800-square-foot store will bring fresh, organic produce and other locally produced items to Lawrenceville. Its owners hope it will become hub in the community.

“Right in the very beginning, we’re just going to be a grocer,” says Kane, who first met Walmsley while volunteering in Lawrenceville’s community gardens. “We won’t be selling made-to-order sandwiches or coffee just yet, but we’ll have some pre-packaged items.”

Kane says she hopes the market will have its coffee and on-site kitchen services functioning for customers within the next month. The market passed its health inspection on Monday and will get its first inventory tomorrow. Much of its produce will come from Saxonburg-based Frankferd Farms, but Kane and Walmsley are also using other local vendors, such as Turner Dairy Farms, Zeke’s Coffee and the North Side’s Mueller’s Hardware for dry goods such as laundry detergent and cat food. Additionally, Kane and Walmsley have reached out to Greenfield Gardens, which both say makes some of Pittsburgh’s best local pickles.

“We’re going to do a really soft opening first. Once the weather clears, we’re going to have a big party,” Kane says. “It’s sort of amazing how it’s all coming together.”

Follow the 52nd Street Market on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deidre Kane

Eat + Drink: Quiet Storm, Ava Lounge returning and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at epic local nommz.

Quiet Storm re-launching at Ava Lounge’s new space
Last year saw three East End institutions — The Quiet Storm in Garfield and Justin Strong’s Ava Lounge and Shadow Lounge in East Liberty close rather suddenly. Now, they’ve joined forces and are storming back onto the scene at Ava’s new space at 304 N. Craig Street in Oakland.

“We are slowly getting the café operation up and running,” says Strong, who added that he expects health and plumbing inspections to be completed this week. “As soon as they give us the go ahead, we’re looking at a Monday opening.”

If not?

“I may have to go rogue and start slinging coffee,” Strong jokes.

Ava’s new incarnation will be called Ava Café + Lounge. The first-floor café will bring Jill MacDowell, who owned one of Pittsburgh’s most popular vegetarian cafes in The Quiet Storm, back onto Pittsburgh’s breakfast and lunch radar.

“She’s put together a really creative café menu. It’s a new element to Ava,” Strong says, adding that the café, which will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will serve grilled sandwiches, vegetarian and vegan fare. He also spoke glowingly of a turkey panini and a shake MacDowell has concocted with oats, bananas and almond milk.

There’s still work to be done on Ava’s lounge portion, which will be located on the building’s second floor. It will include its own kitchen and an entirely different menu for the bar. Between construction, acquiring permits and transferring Ava’s liquor license to the new location, Strong anticipates the lounge could be firing on all cylinders by April or May.

You can track Ava’s progress through its website and on Twitter.

Pittsburgh Juice Company opens in Lawrenceville
The Pittsburgh Juice Company, in development for the better part of a year, opened its doors Monday at 3418 Penn Avenue in Lower Lawrenceville.

The shop offers cold-pressed juices containing fruits and veggies from kale, cucumber and berries to apples, carrots and ginger.

In addition to an array of fresh, unprocessed juices, the brother-sister ownership team of Zeb and Naomi Homison will soon offer juice subscriptions.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Strong
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