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Aspinwall : Development News

11 Aspinwall Articles | Page:

Eat + Drink: Wigle's 92 Neighborhoods series, a beer dinner at the Frick and vegan food in Aspinwall

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Wigle launching neighborhoods series
It’s a busy time for the folks at Wigle Whiskey. Later this month, their aged rye will become the first Wigle product to hit shelves in Pennsylvania’s state stores. Though Wigle may be expanding their reach, the family-owned distillery hasn’t forgotten its mission to bring whiskey to Pittsburgh.

On Friday, March 21, Wigle will host the first installment of its 92 Neighborhoods Series with an evening focused on the history, food, art and culture of East Liberty.

“We have so many great partners in East Liberty. It’s a neighborhood ripe for celebration,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “Our goal is to have one of these every month with a different neighborhood with the goal of celebrating each neighborhood in the city.”

Kevin Sousa will be on-hand with food from his East Liberty restaurants, Station Street Food and Union Pig & Chicken, and will talk about his approach to starting fresh businesses in East Liberty.

“I’m going to give a short presentation and then it’ll be an open discussion,” he says.

Local merchants Olive & Marlowe, which recently moved from the old Pittsburgh Public Market into a new retail space in Indigo Square, will also attend, along with a plethora of East-Liberty-related organizations.

As for the fare he’ll be serving up, Sousa is holding off on planning a menu until he has a better idea of what the weather will be like.

“If it’s chillier, it will lean more toward the barbecue end,” he says.

Tickets to the East Liberty celebration at Wigle cost $20 and are available through the distillery’s website.

Café at the Frick holding craft beer dinner
The Café at the Frick, the on-site restaurant at the Frick Art & Historical Center and one of Pittsburgh’s hidden gems, will hold a craft beer dinner on Thursday, March 20.

The Café will stage one seating, at 7PM, and pair beers from Fat Head’s in North Olmstead, Ohio with a five-course tasting menu prepared by the Frick’s Executive Chef Seth Bailey.

“We will be pairing each course with a different Fat Head’s beer selection,” Bailey says, adding that among the courses, diners can expect a shrimp crème brûlée with a sweet onion sugar.

Tickets for the dinner are $70, which includes both tax and gratuity. You can purchase them by calling 412-371-0600.

Randita’s expanding to Aspinwall
Randita’s Grill, the Saxonburg-based vegan restaurant and catering service which has become immensely popular since its humble food-truck beginnings in May of 2012, will open a second location in Aspinwall this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Kevin Sousa, Seth Bailey

Aspinwall Riverfront Park debuts free skating rink

The first sections of Aspinwall Riverfront Park aren’t scheduled to open until later this year, but the community is still making the most of the land in the meantime.

The park’s development team and more than 150 volunteers have worked together to construct an ice rink on the former brownfield while construction on the first phases of the park is ongoing. The rink is 108 feet by 88 feet and free to the public.

“It’s going to be open as long as the weather is cold enough to accommodate us,” says park developer Susan Crookston. “If you have your own skates, you can skate beginning at 9 a.m. We’ll have food and skates available after 3:30 p.m.”

In addition to the rink, the park has a hut — staffed by Aspinwall Everyday Gourmet — offering snacks and hot cocoa during after-school hours and on weekends, and about 50 pairs of skates in both child and adult sizes which visitors can borrow for free.

Though they haven’t been able to spring for a Zamboni, park caretakers do have a device they’re using to smooth out the surface of the ice on a daily basis, and the maintenance of the rink has been something of a shared responsibility.

“The people who are using the rink help keep it clear,” Crookston says. “We bought a device to smooth the ice, but kids have had a lot of fun shoveling snow off the ice to keep it clean.

In addition to free ice skating and hot cocoa, the park’s winter facilities include a fire pit over which visitors can roast marshmallows. While visitors bringing their own skates are free to begin using the rink at 9 a.m. daily, free skate rental and snacks are available from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 12 to 7:30 p.m. on weekends.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

Eat + Drink: Ten Penny and Gus's open, Bella Christie branches out

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local epic nommz.

Ten Penny to open this weekend
Ten Penny, the latest and most dining-focused restaurant and bar from AMPd Group — which earlier this year opened Skybar on the South Side — will open at the corner of Tenth Street and Penn Avenue in Downtown this weekend, according to AMPd Managing Partner Adam DeSimone.

Executive Chef Scott DeLuca, formerly of BOhem Bistro in Seven Fields and the South Side’s Truth Lounge, has designed a menu which explores new takes on classic American comfort food. The restaurant will sport 24 taps of craft beer to go with an extensive wine and cocktail menu.

Gus’s open in Lawrenceville
Gus’s Cafe, the long-awaited Lawrenceville venture from George Haritos, held its soft opening last week and is now operating full-time from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the kitchen closing at 11 p.m.
In addition to a generous beer selection, the café offers wine, cocktails and a variety of gluten-free dining options, including french fries, crepes and doughnuts.

Located at 4717 Butler Street, Gus’s takes its name from Konstantinos “Gus” Haritos, who opened Shadyside’s Harris Grill back in 1951. George Haritos, who sold Harris in 2003, also plans to open another restaurant at 5416 Butler.

Bella Christie coming to Lawrenceville
Bella Christie & Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique, the dessert-centric bakery known for making extravagant cakes for every occasion you could think of (and even a few you probably wouldn't), will open a new spot in February. The Aspinwall-based bakery will take over the former Dozen Bake Shop space at 3511 Butler Street.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Adam DeSimone

Aspinwall breaks ground on new riverfront park

When planning the groundbreaking for the new Aspinwall Riverfront Park, park developer Susan Crookston wasn’t aiming to create a corporate photo opportunity. She wanted to involve all the locals who’d volunteered their time and donated their money.

So when area residents gathered at the site of the future park on Saturday, anyone who wanted to help break ground had the chance.

“We didn’t want to have guys in suits standing around with shovels,” Crookston says. “Everyone got a shovel we’d painted gold and we planted 2,000 bulbs. It was great to see the kids running around, throwing dirt and eating cookies.”

It’s that kind of joy, Crookston says, which has helped get this park project moving so quickly. After finalizing designs in May, construction on the park’s west side, which will include walking trails and quiet recreation areas, will go on throughout the winter.

“We’ve had people really give in sacrificial ways. So many people have been involved in making this happen,” she says. “It takes most communities ten years to build a park, and we’re on two and well under way.”

While the first phase of construction is taking place, park leaders plan to erect a temporary ice skating rink next month and hope to have it ready for use by January. Right now, they’re seeking donations of ice skates. The park’s second phase, an active recreation space, could even begin concurrent to its first — something Crookston says is a matter of obtaining permits and the final 30 percent of the funding required.

If the local eagerness to get the park up and running is any indication, it won’t be long. At the groundbreaking, a child handed Crookston a bag containing $3.27.

“He knew he was building the park,” Crookston says. “When you think about somebody giving you what they’ve saved, that’s an important gift.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

Eat + Drink: Peet's Coffee in Pittsburgh, Cocktail Week, America's largest native fruit

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly glance at the finest in local epic nomz.

Peet’s Coffee coming to Pittsburgh
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the San Francisco Bay area-based coffee roaster and retailer whose coffee has a near-religious following on the west coast, is set to open its first Pittsburgh stores.

Peet’s will take over the locations of the former Caribou Coffee shops in Oakland, the South Side, Brentwood and the Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall.

According to Gary Wilson, a principal with the development firm of Langholz Wilson Ellis, which owns the site of the recently closed Caribou Coffee in Oakland, the developers are in the process of approving plans now. Wilson did not give a timetable for the Oakland location’s opening.

Peet’s products aren’t entirely new to the region. Giant Eagle has carried various Peet’s blends for several years.

Eat + Drink heartily recommends giving the House Blend a shot. Fans of darker roasts are likely to enjoy the full-bodied Major Dickason’s Blend.

Pittsburgh Cocktail Week
A cadre of bars and restaurants will participate in the first annual Pittsburgh Cocktail Week, which will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

Cocktail Week will include everything from tequila classes at Verde to ice-carving sessions at The Livermore, will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

A list of Cocktail Week events, still being updated, is available on the event’s website.

Paw paw tasting
The paw paw is often described as a cross between a banana and a mango. It’s the largest edible fruit native to the United States, yet most people have never even heard of it. Andy Moore is looking to change that.

“It’s native to 25 or 26 states in the eastern United States, and it’s virtually unheard of,” Moore says. “How does something that’s this ubiquitous get overlooked?”

Moore, a former Pop City staffer, is looking to answer that question and others, as he travels around the country to research the history of the paw paw for a book he’s working on. To help raise money to finance his research and travels, Moore will host a paw paw tasting event Thursday, September 19th at 7:30 p.m. at Buena Vista Coffee on the North Side.

Attendees will learn about the paw paw, and have the opportunity to sample a variety of paw paw-inclusive foods, including ice cream, cupcakes, and the raw flesh of the fruit itself.

Those attending will also receive paw paw seeds from which to grown their own paw paw trees, and Moore plans to raffle off a pair of paw paw trees to one lucky participant.

Tickets for the event are $40 and may be reserved by calling 407-967-3519, or e-mailing Moore.

You can follow his paw paw adventures on Twitter @thepawpawbook.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gary Wilson, Andrew Moore

Eat + Drink: TAPPED pop up beer garden, pop up dinners and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at seasonal deliciousness.

TAPPED pop up beer gardens return for second year
TAPPED, the pop up beer garden project from Epic Development that launched last summer, will return this year with three installments. "Each one is going to take on its own kind of persona," Epic Development's Michael McAllister says.

The first TAPPED event will take place in East Liberty on June 22, and is designed to be a celebration of that neighborhood's revitalization."All of us are passionate about the area and excited about the trajectory of East Liberty," McAllister says.

Joining last year's participants Full Pint Brewing and Bar Marco will be Table Magazine and Braddock's The Brew Gentlemen. A host of food trucks will also be on hand, including FranktuaryBRGR, the PGH Taco TruckThe Pierogi Truck and Lomito, a new venture from the owners of Fukuda.

July's TAPPED event will take place Downtown and highlight the area's arts and culture scene."We will have some fun little twists we're going to keep under wraps until a couple weeks before," McAllister says.

The August event will occur in Upper Lawrenceville and feature local bands and DJs. "It'll be a really fun cap to the summer season," McAllister says.

Pittsburgh Public Market to host monthly Around the World pop up dinners
Chef Mya Zeronis
 will prepare and host the first in a series of Around the World Pop Up Dinners on Friday, August 9 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Market. The evening, which will open with Zeronis teaching guests quick lessons on how to make fresh juices, vegetable summer rolls and homemade pickles, will conclude with a vegan-friendly five-course meal.

Zeronis, who sells some of her prepared foods at Lean Chef En Route in the public market, says that she’s always enjoyed pop up dinners. “Even if I were to own a restaurant, I’d want to do this monthly,” she says.

Tickets for the dinner are $35 and available through the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Former Eleven pastry chef starts anew as a chocolatier
Pastry chef Shelby Ortz, who previously spent six years in kitchens at Big Burrito establishments Soba and Eleven, has struck out on her own and started Lux Artisan Chocolates.

Her confections consist of four different bars, including a black fig and pistachio bar, and 12 kinds of bon bons, all with fillings made from scratch — her favorite contains almond, cherry, coconut and caramel.

For Ortz, it’s a career change that arose out of necessity. After she and her husband, also a chef, had a baby last year, Ortz needed to cut her schedule down from the 50-plus hours a week she’d been working.

Lux Artisan Chocolates are available at Mon Amiee Chocolat in the Strip District, Bryant Street Market in Highland Park and Feast on Brilliant in Aspinwall.

Marty's Market expands hours
Marty’s Market in the Strip District has expanded its hours and introduced breakfast service. On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the market’s cafe will offer breakfast sandwiches, brioche French toast and gluten-free sweet polenta among other offerings. The market itself is has extended its weekday service by two hours and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

Burger 21 coming to Pittsburgh in 2014
Burger 21, a gourmet burger franchise from the owners of The Melting Pot, will expand into Pennsylvania next year with a restaurant in Cranberry. Chad Brooks, owner of eight Qdoba restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, will operate the franchise.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Michael McAllister, Mya Zeronis, Shelby Ortz

Aspinwall Riverfront Park gets new design

Nearly a year after soliciting input from the community as to what its new park should include, the proposed Aspinwall Riverfront Park has a design in place.

“The community has really embraced it and made it their own. We have hundreds of volunteers,” says Susan Crookston of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Inc.

The design is the work of Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning and Design. Called Raindrops to Rivers, its unifying theme is a celebration of water.

“There’s the east park, where people can have picnics, throw Frisbees and enjoy the playground,” Crookston says. “The west park has walking trails and more nature-oriented things.”

Crookston says that given its proximity to the Allegheny River and nearby railroad tracks, the eventual plan is to connect the park to an extension of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The park will also include a barge on the river from which people will be able to rent kayaks and canoes.

The real innovation behind Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Crookston says, is the idea of integrating a public park with a for-profit business in the form of the marina that exists on the premises. The marina was going to be sold for commercial development in 2010, but Crookston led a grassroots fundraising effort that allowed Friends of the Riverfront to buy the land — marina and all.

According to Crookston, the western half of the 10-acre park could open by the end of this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

What does a community want in a park? Aspinwall speaks up.

Last year, the Allegheny River community of Aspinwall led a successful grassroots campaign to buy a private marina and turn it over to the public.  Now, in anticipation of the new Aspinwall Riverfront Park, project directors have turned to the community once again to find out exactly what area residents want in a park.

Top activities include walking, running, bicycling, playground areas, and nature appreciation.  According to Friends of the Riverfront (FOR), who facilitated the survey,17 percent of respondents expressed a desire to create a natural park that focuses on the river with fishing, rowing, and canoeing or kayaking.

"What was important to us is that we create something that is really valuable to the public, and that meets their needs," says Susan Crookston, of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Inc.  "And by doing this survey we wanted to incorporate people's ideas and their own dreams for the park too."

But residents want the park to be enjoyed by non-humans as well.  Crookston's organization was delighted to find a river otter on the property last week, an animal which has only recently been reintroduced to the Allegheny.  Bald eagles and hummingbirds have also been spotted in the park.

"There's a really unique ecosystem…that we'd like to protect and cherish," Crookston says.  "We really want to get people back to the river and interacting with the river, so that's an exciting possibility for us."

FOR purchased the marina on behalf of the Aspinwall community last October from David Kushon, who retired after more than 40 years on the river.  The purchase was made possible through the community's grassroots fundraising, an effort which Crookston spearheaded in 2010, raising over $2.3 million.

FOR has also announced the local design team that will create a Master Plan for the park, which includes Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning & Design (EPD) as team leader and landscape architect of record.

EPD is joined by NIPpaysage of Montreal, Quebec; studio d’ARC architects of Pittsburgh; Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering of Coraopolis; blue tomato design of Pittsburgh; and 360 Intelligent Marketing.

Crookston says there is also an interest in having canoe and kayak rentals at the site, among other amenities, but that the specifics are still being developed.

"It's an enormous task that we're trying to undertake here, to not only run a  business that generates several million dollars a year and has several employees," she says, "but what we hope will be a treasure for our community for years to come."

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Susan Crookston

Aspinwall Marina purchased by community, Friends of the Riverfront, to become park

The Aspinwall Marina was officially purchased by Friends of the Riverfront last week, and will become a community riverfront park and trail extension.  Since last November, the non-profit organization has been working on behalf of community residents who spearheaded the effort, raising $2.3 million to purchase the marina.

Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront, says this entire process has been a community effort, and he looks forward to moving “aggressively forward with fundraising for the development and build-out” of the new park.

“And as part of that process we're going to be reaching out to not just Aspinwall community, but all the surrounding community to talk about what can be and what will be part of the park,” Baxter says. “There will be a lot of opportunity for public involvement.”

The marina will be converted into a mixed-use parcel, and will feature an extension of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. 
Susan Crookston, who created the initial business plan last year, says the Aspinwall marina will now become “the community treasure that it was intended to be.”  She says the rapid rate of fundraising, done in just over six months, has been an incredible experience. 

“It's just been a kind of miracle, and just a testimony to the power of an idea and the power of the generosity of our community,” Crookston says.

Friends of the Riverfront signed an agreement of sale on the marina in January, and fundraising for the purchase began immediately after. Those efforts included t-shirt sales, parades, various parties, and major gifts from private donors. Two young Boy Scouts collected over $15,000 by mowing lawns, and a young girl delivered $144 after a month of lemonade stands.

“This would have never ever happened without all the people taking the ownership and making it happen,” Crookston says.
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Thomas Baxter; Susan Crookston

Friends of the Riverfront to purchase Aspinwall Marina and build new park

Friends of the Riverfront has entered into a sales agreement to purchase the Aspinwall Marina. In addition to preserving this important community asset, the 20-year-old river advocacy organization plans to develop a new park on or near the 8-acre marina site.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to fulfill our mission of reconnecting people with their riverfronts. The community of Aspinwall and the neighboring communities have been very active and supportive, and we can't think of a better project," says Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront.

The family who currently owns the marina at 285 River Avenue has worked diligently to find the right buyer who will preserve its legacy, and Baxter expects the sale to be finalized within the next few months. The sale price will not be disclosed until that time, though the property was last listed at $2.3 million. The Fox Chapel District Association has already committed $50,000 toward the project. Once the marina is purchased, Friends of the Riverfront intends to involve the community in deciding what kinds of renovations need to be made.

While the proposed park has yet to be designed, Baxter says that it will be used to better connect the community, and its creation will draw heavily from public input.

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Writer: John Farley
Source: Thomas Baxter, Friends of the Riverfront

Little Flea market buzzes on Butler Street

On the corner of 36th and Butler Streets in Lawrenceville, card tables are stacked high with costume jewelry and beaded handbags, little bits of porcelain and yarn and paper recycled into cards and magnets. Lamps without bulbs, toys, dresses in pretty prints, and bikes that could carry you up the hill, into Bloomfield, and then anywhere from there. People mill about, sipping coffee from the nearby shops and nibbling treats from the parked Goodie Truck. Dogs pull on leashes, and there's talk of where to go for brunch and what time the bowling alley opens.

The Little Flea, which started Sat., Aug. 8, is taking what's already so good about Lower Lawrenceville (the art, the people, the food), and bringing it to the streets.

The weekly flea market runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather-permitting, and is a project of Equita, a locally-owned, ethically-conscious gift shop at 3609 Butler St.

"We wanted to have another venue in the neighborhood where people could meet one another, and also make some extra money in what is a challenging economy," says Sara Parks with Equita, which operates a web shop in addition to its brick-and-mortar store.

The three-year-old company will be celebrating its one year anniversary in its street-front retail space at the end of September. Previously, the shop operated its online business from the Ice House Artist Studios, the redeveloped warehouse at 100 43rd St. in Lawrenceville.

Parks says the Little Flea could run year-round, depending on how successful it is within the coming months. She points to the Aspinwall flea market as inspiration for the Little Flea. That market runs 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday in the municipal parking lot along Freeport Road near Center Avenue.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Sara Parks, Equita

Photograph courtesy Little Flea
11 Aspinwall Articles | Page:
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