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Eat + Drink: Blowfish BBQ, Butcher and the Rye and more

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

Finely. Smoked. Meats. 
Just because the Steelers are terrible doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a great game-day experience, food and all. And when it comes to Sunday barbecue, few do it better than Justin Blakey.

Blakey, who’s in charge of all things beer at D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Regent Square and is better known to Pittsburgh beer drinkers as “Hootie,” played off his longtime nickname in creating his new venture, Blowfish BBQ. Every Sunday, Blakey sets up shop at D’s around 1 p.m., selling pork ribs, chicken and beef brisket, along with a host of savory sides such as smoked mac-and-cheese, red potatoes and a vinegar-dressed slaw.

“This is the perfect outlet to start it out,” says Blakey, adding that  while he's fine working out of the D's kitchen for the time being, he's looking to expand and perhaps open up a commercial space offering restaurant and catering services.

Blowfish BBQ’s meats aren’t grilled, but slow-smoked, requiring Blakey to carefully maintain a steady fire at a specific temperature over several hours. Pork and poultry spend the preceding days in various rubs and brines. The brisket takes a different path.

“I really don’t believe beef needs any special treatment — just salt and pepper, and let the smoke do the work,” he says.

In addition to a Texas-style brisket, Carolina-style ribs and his own special recipe for chicken, Blakey is still developing various sauces to complement his offerings. He’s most adamant about perpetuating vinegar-based sauces.

“It accents the meat more than it covers it up. I think with true barbecue, that’s what you’re really looking to do,” he says.

And while you're in the neighborhood…
Unlike Christmas-themed ads or Halloween parties seeping between weekends, one seasonal pleasure limited to November is D’s Franksgiving dog — a turkey hot dog on a steamed, poppy seed bun, topped with mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing and gravy, served with a side of cranberry sauce.

Trust us on this one.

Butcher and the Rye now open Downtown
After a few small events and a soft opening, Butcher and the Rye, the long-awaited second venture from the team responsible for Meat & Potatoes, opened for business last week.

Located at 212 Sixth Street in the Cultural District, Butcher offers creative small plates and open seating to go with their veritable archive of more than 350 kinds of bourbon. Yes, really. There’s even a ladder, reminiscent of those you’ll find in high-ceilinged library stacks, and giving new meaning to the term, “top shelf.”

Whether you stop in to try one of Chef Richard DeShantz’s new offerings or just to have a drink, the view alone warrants a visit, and the big leather chairs near the second-floor bar are especially comfy.

A new Downtown eatery from the creators of Skybar
Ten Penny, an upscale-casual restaurant with a diverse menu, will open later this month at 960 Penn Avenue in Downtown. The latest from Adam DeSimone’s AMPD Group, Ten Penny will offer dinner seven days a week, lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on weekends and special happy hour and late-night menus.

In addition to a large bar with 24 craft beers on tap, the space will offer a variety of seating options including a private dining room which will seat up to 20 people and café-style outdoor dining starting next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey

Eat + Drink: tacos, pierogies and all kinds of beer!

Eat & Drink is Pop City's roundup of local epic nomz.

Casa Reyna opens taco stand
Here’s a new game to play with your friends: how far down any one stretch of Penn Avenue do you need to travel before finding a place to buy a great taco?

Whatever the answer was, the distance just got shorter. Casa Reyna, the restaurant sister of Nic DiCio’s Reyna Market in the Strip District opened up a taco stand outside its 2031 Penn Avenue space. The stand will be open daily from 10 a.m. to about 7 p.m., depending on business, year-round.

First annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival
A host of local restaurants will converge at South Shore Riverfront Park this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. to present the inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival. Vendors will include Bar Marco, BRGR, Franktuary, Marty’s Market and more. Admission to the event is free and all vendors will be cash-only.

To learn more about the first annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, check it out on Twitter or visit its Facebook page.

Pumking at D’s
For those in in the full swing of fall, D’s Six Pax and Dogz in Regent Square will fill its massive tap room with a vast selection of pumpkin beers starting Friday. In addition to pumpkin beers already on tap, D’s will roll out Southern Tier Pumpking not only from this year, but cellar-aged kegs from the previous three years.

“We’ll also have the Southern Tier Warlock, which is a stout made with Pumking. There’ll be a bunch of other pumpkin beers but it’s really about the Pumking,” says D’s Beer Czar Justin “Hootie” Blakey.

Penn Brewery wins at the Great American Beer Festival
Penn Brewery’s Chocolate Meltdown, a chocolate stout which the brewery plans to release this winter, took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this month.

“It was an old homebrew recipe of mine. I brought it in and we scaled it up,” says Nick Rosich, one of Penn’s brewers. “We get all our chocolate from Besty Ann over here in West View. We use that in the kettle, and we use quite a bit of lactose to bring out that milky creaminess. It’s a chocolate milk stout.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey, Nick Rosich

Eat + Drink: The 61B Cafe, Smorgasburgh, an end-of-summer dinner

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly news roundup on the food scene.

61B Café opens in Regent Square
The long-awaited sister store of Squirrel Hill’s popular 61C Café opened in Regent Square last Wednesday. The 61B Café, which sits on the bus line of the same name, is located at 1108 South Braddock Avenue in the space which formerly held Katerbean, which closed last November.

The 61B Café’s opening, which was supposed to occur last spring, was delayed due to a prolonged remodeling process. The café is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Smorgasburgh: Pittsburgh's first food-exclusive flea market
A plethora of coffee shops, restaurants, markets and specialty grocers will take part in Smorgasburgh, a pop-up food market in the Strip District on September 21st.

Organized by Michael McAllister and Kit Mueller and based on the food-exclusive Brooklyn flea market (minus the "h"), Smorgasburgh will take place in the parking lot across from Marty’s Market at 2301 Smallman Street, and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We do kind of see it as something that we can do every four to six weeks,” McAllister says, adding that he thinks there will be another one organized before Thanksgiving.

Participants include: The Crested Duck, Meat & Potatoes, Marty’s Market, Olive & Marlowe, Klayvon’s Ice Cream, Wild Purveyors, Bluebird Kitchen, The Pop Stop, Bedillion Honey Farm, Good L’Oven Bakery, Tamari, The Livermore, Pastitsio, Drew’s Pie Supply, Franktuary, Fukuda, Espresso a Mano and Zeke’s Coffee. The event is BYOB, but PortaKeg will be on-hand with beer from Full Pint.

Low Country Boil at Bayardstown tonight!
Urbanist Guide is teaming up Chef Kate Romane of Highland Park’s e2 for an old-fashioned Lowcountry shrimp boil tonight at Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District. The traditional southern summer sendoff will include shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage and Old Bay, along with salad, tomatoes, green beans, bread and a house-made hot sauce. The event is BYOB. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Showclix.

Oktoberfest at Penn Brewery
The Penn Brewery, located in Troy Hill, will host its annual Oktoberfest celebration both this and next weekend. 

It will run from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit the brewery's website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Michael McAllister

Eat + Drink: The Beer Market, dog-friendly dining and more

Pop City's weekly update on Pittsburgh's food-related goings-on.

- The Beer Market, which opened over the weekend at 110 Federal Street near PNC Park, invites customers to try a selection of over 500 beers, 50 to 60 of which are available on draft. Customers are invited to bring whatever food wish to enjoy with their beers. In addition to offering live music three to four nights a week, the Beer Market will provide menus from nearby restaurants which offer delivery.

- The Double Wide Grill on East Carson Street has sectioned off a portion of its outdoor seating and opened a new dog patio. Customers may bring their dogs to their tables through a special entrance, then order and pick up food at a service counter. Owners must keep their dogs on leashes no longer than six feet, and the dogs are invited to dine from a special canine menu.

“We have hamburgers, chicken, dog biscuits and tofu for the vegetarian dogs,” says Steve Zumoff, one of Double Wide’s owners. “If people want to book doggie showers or birthdays, we can do that, too. We’ve had a few requests already.”

- The Market Square Farmer’s Market opens its 2013 season tomorrow and will run every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of October. The market will host a core group of regular and specialty vendors offering fresh produce and small-batch foods including wines, salsas, dips and baked goods. To celebrate its 2013 opening, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will give away 6,500 recycled tulip bulbs from planters around the city, asking only a suggested donation of one cent per bulb.

- The Rumfish Grille, which opened in Bridgeville last month, is adding an outdoor seating area called Rumfish Beach. The area will include a lounge, fire pits, sand and water. It will be available for private events and will have its grand opening shortly after Memorial Day according to restaurant spokesperson Dixie Smith. Rumfish Grille, co-owned by Clint Pohl and Chef Chet Garland, focuses on serving fresh seafood in a relaxed, upscale atmosphere.

- Square Café, a breakfast and lunch mainstay in on Braddock Avenue in Regent Square, will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Sunday, May 19th. The planned celebration is open to the public and will include live music and family-oriented entertainment for customers to enjoy while waiting for tables.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dixie Smith, Steve Zumoff

Eat + Drink: Outdoor dining spots and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of restaurant and food news.

Cure, Chef Justin Severino’s Lawrenceville restaurant, has obtained a liquor license. While the restaurant will offer a full-service bar, its full menu of wines and specialty cocktails won’t be ready for another few weeks. “Right now, they’re just testing some stuff out,” says restaurant spokesperson Gita McCutcheon.

- A new addition to Pittsburgh’s food truck scene, the PGH Crepes cart sets up at the corner of Penn Avenue and 20th Street on weekends and makes its way around town during the week.

“We really like the carts in general. We think it speaks well the entrepreneurial spirit of Pittsburgh,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “It’s a new twist on things, and a nice compliment to the many restaurants downtown.”

To find the crepe cart, follow it on Twitter @pghcrepes.

Waffalonia, the Squirrel Hill-based makers of Belgian-style Liège waffles, will open a kiosk in Schenley Plaza in mid-May.

And now that the weather is good, it’s time to dine outdoors. Here are some of the latest openings:

Make Your Mark Artspace & Coffeehouse in Point Breeze opened its serene back patio last week.

The garden portion of Pusadee’s Garden in Lawrenceville is ethereal and lovely.

The partially re-done patio at Kelly’s Lounge in East Liberty is open, as is the spacious back patio at Lawrenceville’s Round Corner Cantina.

Marty’s Market in the Strip has tables around the outside of its corner location, as well as stools at its garage-door coffee counter.

Orange chairs adorn the patio at Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina.

The Porch in Oakland has some of Pittsburgh’s best outdoor seating, and plenty to go around with school out for the summer.

Biddle’s Escape, a coffee shop tucked away off the main drag in Regent Square, has a spacious and tree-shaded deck.

And Il Pizzaiolo, in both Market Square and Mt. Lebanon has outdoor spaces. In the Mt. Lebanon location, the charming terrace in the back just opened and in Market Square, you'll find tables outside the new location next to Starbucks.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gita McCutcheon, Leigh White

Biddle's Escape coffee shop opening in Wilkinsburg

Regent Square’s newest coffee shop is set to open just in time for warm weather, and is all about fresh air and open spaces.  Biddle's Escape, which will open in the coming weeks, features elevated sidewalk seating, over 25 windows, and a wall that opens completely to the avenue via a large, garage-style door.

The shop will serve a full list of coffee drinks, as well as Italian sodas, smoothies, and juice.  Baked goods and breakfast foods will be provided by Sweet Tammy’s bakery, and other local vendors. 

Common Place Coffee will roast the shop’s beans, but owner Joe Davis plans to purchase coffee directly from farmers himself.  Davis is well acquainted with direct and fair trade practices, as he had previously owned and curated an artisan bead shop in Oakland for the past 20 years.

An avid traveler since the age of 14, Davis has visited 86 different countries.  For many years he has purchased art and beads directly from artists, and artifacts from his travels will be for sale and on display throughout the shop, as well as a complete bead shop.

Located on a leafy, residential street, the coffee shop is just a few blocks from Braddock Avenue and Frick Park.

Although a bit removed from Wilkinsburg’s Penn Avenue, Wilkinsburg CDC Executive Director Tracey Evans says the shop’s opening is a good thing for the borough, and the only coffee shop of its kind in Wilkinsburg.

Evans says a neighborhood gathering spot like Biddle's Escape helps to further the cause of redeveloping Wilkinsburg.

Biddle’s Escape, 401 Biddle Avenue, Regent Square (Wilkinsburg), 15221.    

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Joe Davis; Tracey Evans

Cibo Restaurant opens contemporary Italian BYOB in Regent Square

Cibo Restaurant opened earlier this summer in Regent Square, serving contemporary Italian cuisine. Described as upscale-casual, the cozy, 36-seat BYOB showcases ingredients sourced from local vendors and area farmers markets.

Executive Chef Eric Schwarzmeier says although many items at Cibo are traditional Italian dishes, he enjoys being able to experiment with different flavors in the kitchen.

"If something's a little Greek nobody's going to slap me on my hand," Schwarzmeier says. "A lot of things are traditional [just like people's] grandmas probably did it, but then I also play on other things, and I'm not scared to mix-and-match."

Schwarzmeier, 26, trained for the past 10 years at La Cucina Flegrea in Squirrel Hill and now enjoys the freedom of creating his own menu, one that changes nearly every day.

Menu items include grilled salmon with asparagus rissotto, zuppe de pesce; veal scaloppini with forest mushrooms in a white wine butter sauce; and Penne Pasta Cibo, sausage, fennel and onion in a parmesan cream sauce.

Cibo is owned by husband and wife duo, Cindy and Dino DeFlavio, also of the Regent Square institution D's Six Pax & Dogz.

"We wanted to serve [Regent Square]," Cindy DeFlavio says. "The neighborhood and surrounding areas, these are such wonderful communities with wonderful people, and everyone likes to have a local spot."

Cibo is open Monday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. BYOB. Reservations are not required, but recommended. 1103 South Braddock Avenue, Regent Square, 15218, 412-871-5923.

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Eric Schwarzmeier and Cindy DeFlavio, Cibo Restaurant

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen opens in Regent Square, creating links to Africa

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen wants to serve great food, mixed with a little history and culture. The restaurant opened last week in Regent Square, featuring dishes from throughout Latin America and a special emphasis on African-influenced items.

Owner James Wallace says Alma seeks to emphasize and pay homage to those contributions made by Africans in Latin cuisines and cultures.

"The plantain dishes, or these rice and bean dishes, they go all the way back to West Africa," Wallace says. Not every dish will have an overt African influence, he says, but the restaurant will embrace that link which these many different countries share.

The menu includes Colombian arepas, Puerto Rican braised oxtail, and Argentinean grilled skirt steak topped with chimichurri, among dishes from Peru, Cuba, Chile, and elsewhere. Wallace says Alma is also highlighting vegetarian dishes.

"Even though the cultures might be more of an animal based diet, the vegetarian stuff that's there is just phenomenal," Wallace says.

Chef Martin Lamarche is rooted in the Pan-Latin experience himself. Son of a Dominican father, and a Guatemalan mother, he spent several years of his youth in Guatemala City, and many summers in the Dominican Republic.

Lamarche has worked in kitchens throughout the country, including The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia and Restaurant Terra in Nappa Valley.

Alma is Wallace's second restaurant in Pittsburgh. In 2004, Wallace opened the city's first Ethiopian restaurant, Abay, in East Liberty. As with Abay, Wallace says he has opened Alma in part to contribute to the growth of a diverse cultural scene in Pittsburgh.

In July, Wallace plans to open a smaller cantina adjacent to Alma. The cantina will feature Latin American mixed drinks like mojitos and caipirinha, beers from throughout the region, and local brews on tap.

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen, 7600 and 7606 Forbes Ave, Regent Square, 412-727-6320

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: James Wallace

Nine Mile Run Watershed Association puts to work $50K grant

Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA) has received a $50,000 grant from Aquarius Spring, a Coca-Cola brand that is providing grants to community watershed organizations in 10 national markets.

This grant will aid in NMRWA's goal of restoring and protecting the Nine Mile Run Watershed through demonstration projects, advocacy and citizen engagement, including community clean-up events and the Rain Barrel Initiative, which is now about halfway to its goal of placing 4,000 rain barrels at homes around the watershed by the end of 2010.

The 6.5-square-mile watershed underwent a $7.7 million ecosystem restoration in 2006. It spans Edgewood and Wilkinsburg, portions of Swissvale and some areas in Pittsburgh, including parts of Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill and all of Frick Park, where NMRWA is holding events this week in partnership with Aquarius Spring.

On Saturday, volunteers did a "stream sweep" in Lower Frick Park, clearing away debris that's washed into the watershed as a result of recent storms.

"What people don't realize is that when you see litter in the stream, it's not necessarily because people are littering in the park," says Executive Director Brenda Smith. "Anything that's on the street anywhere near the watershed in heavy rain is going to be washed into the sewer and then directly into Nine Mile Run."

This Wednesday, NMRWA has organized a "restoration day" at Falls Ravine in Frick Park. Volunteers will be clearing sediment buildup that interferes with the natural draining process, and will be reinforcing the stream bank.

The Aquarius Spring grant is also going toward monitoring and building the Regent Square Gateway, an entrance to Frick Park that will clean stormwater and educate people about the watershed as well as stormwater problems in the region.

Writer: Caralyn Green

Source: Brenda Smith, executive director, NMRWA

Environmental groups collaborate on regional stewardship symposium

For Pittsburgh's environmental stewards, community and collaboration are key. In an effort to further partnerships and increase awareness of volunteer opportunities, seven instrumental groups are teaming up for the first-ever Pittsburgh Regional Environmental Stewardship Symposium. The symposium will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat., July 11 at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, in Regent Square.

The symposium aims to educate and invigorate active area stewards, and introduce those with newfound interest or engagement to an array of ways to get involved. A keynote address that positions Pittsburgh's efforts in a national context will be given by Steven Handel, Ph.D., a professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University.

Event hosts include: Allegheny Land Trust, Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest, Frick Environmental Center, Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Among the hosting organizations, more than 2,500 volunteers have logged nearly 20,000 hours of volunteer time over the past two years. Environmental stewardship in Pittsburgh includes restoration, remediation and continued maintenance, and ranges from street tree planting to riverfront trail clean-up to hillside stabilization, says Jeffrey Bergman with Nine Mile Run.

Erin Copeland with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy adds, "Anyone who is doing any stewardship in the city is not only helping the environment but also the human population. You can't remove the people from the ecology of the city."

Registration and event details are available here.

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Jeffrey Bergman, program director, Nine Mile Run; Erin Copeland, restoration ecologist, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Image courtesy Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest

Pittsburgh Cares celebrates MLK Day with two unique community events

Pittsburgh Cares offers two unique ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Day this year. On Saturday, Jan. 17 from 11am-1pm for $20 per person, you can take part in one of seven Neighborhood Diversity Crawls. Crawls take place in the West End/Mt. Washington, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield/Friendship, South Side, Regent Square, Strip District, and Oakmont and include a narrated tour, sampling of various traditional foods and beverages, exploration of locally owned businesses, and fun facts like who Lawrenceville is named for and what Oakmont claims as the largest in the country.

“Last year we lead one tour to four different places throughout the city, but this year we wanted to highlight Pittsburgh’s diverse neighborhoods and help boost the local economy at the same time,” says Kristin Brown with Pittsburgh Cares.

In addition, Pittsburgh Cares has teamed up with Manchester Craftsmen's Guild to host their MLK: Celebrate the Dream event. On Monday, Jan. 19 from 10am-12pm, more than 350 youth and adult volunteers will design and construct upwards of 75 "diversity shelves." The wooden bookcases will be adorned with words and images from the Civil Rights Movement and will serve as a platform for initiating dialogue around race relations, community organizing, volunteerism, and diversity. From 12-1pm local performing artists will showcase their talents as the volunteers unite in celebration of Dr. King's dream for a community that respects and embraces diversity.

“After the event our volunteer groups will present the shelves filled with books to local schools so the discussion of diversity continues throughout the year.”

To receive Pop City free every week, click here.

Writer: Lauren Urbschat
Source: Kristin Brown, Pittsburgh Cares

$1M DCNR grant to support urban park, trail and tree projects in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s parks, trails and trees will get a major boost thanks to a $1 million grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Announced during this week’s 2008 Urban Parks conference—which drew 600 attendees from around the world—the funds will support the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Regional Trail Corporation and TreeVitalize.

“Green spaces make cities places where people want to live, and they really can be economic drivers,” says Christina Novak, with DCNR. “Our grant rounds are competitive. We always have more requests than funds available.”

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will use $250,000 to restore historic trails and bridges in Frick, Highland, Schenley, and Riverview parks. The funds will also support the installation of new signage designed to increase accessibility, identify key park features and enhance visitor experience in the four urban parks. Meg Cheever, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, says that the grant will allow the nonprofit to complete much-needed repairs, improve drainage infrastructure and reduce soil erosion along trails in the four urban parks.
The Regional Trail Corporation received $500,000 to help construct 1.3 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage. The project, part of a 30-year effort to complete the trail's last section through the Mon Valley, includes a new bridge that will cross over an active rail line. With a $250,000 grant, the City of Pittsburgh will partner with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Allegheny County to increase the region’s tree canopy via its TreeVitalize program.

To receive Pop City free every week, click here.

Writer: Jennifer Baron
Source: Christina Novak, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Photograph copyright Brian Cohen


Bike 'burgh: city-wide cycling, pedestrian initiatives get a boost

Pittsburgh is poised to become a lot more bike and pedestrian friendly.

On August 11, the city unveiled “the four e’s” of a new cycling and walking initiative—engineering, education, enforcement, and events—aimed at implementing a broad spectrum of traffic and infrastructure improvements that will help promote cycling and walking as viable, economical and safe modes of transportation and recreation.

Encouraging coalitions with advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh, the project also calls for enforcing traffic laws designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians and increasing bike/ped awareness.
The announcement coincided with the hiring of Stephen Patchen, who on August 4 began as Pittsburgh’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator—the first position of its kind in Pennsylvania.

“This looks at everything through the lens of cycling and pedestrian activities, and also transit. It's about having that mix, and a series of networks aligned, so we can have a strategic direction,” says Councilman Dowd, who hopes to see high-visibility signage, commuter partnership programs and broad policy directives. “Education underscores the whole thing. This can help us reinvent the infrastructure of the city.”

Dowd says the city is already considering adding a bike lane to East Liberty Blvd. Specific measures include designated and marked bike routes, a stolen bike recovery program, and reinvestment in Pittsburgh’s steps and stairways. In 2010, Pittsburgh will apply for Bicycle Friendly Community Status from theLeague of American Bicyclists.

Among the initiative’s extensive list of possibilities are tax credits for businesses that provide cycling facilities, changes in driver’s manuals that emphasize bike/ped safety, showcase events that close city boulevards to vehicular traffic, and bike accommodations in Parking Authority lots.

Writer: Jennifer Baron
Source: Patrick Dowd, Pittsburgh City Council District 7

Photograph copyright Jonathan Greene

Pillow Project debuts The Space Upstairs, new arts venue in Pittsburgh's East End

With the opening of The Pillow Project’s new digs, Construction Junction—the region’s only recycled building supply retailer—has found a creative use for its second-floor and Point Breeze has gained a new arts venue.

Dubbed The Space Upstairs, the venue serves as The Pillow Project’s performance and rehearsal facility, and hosts Second Saturdays, the city’s latest monthly art happening.

Integrating the green-mindedness and supplies of partner organization Construction Junction—such as aluminum siding, floorboards and kitchen countertops—Pillow Project artistic director Pearlann Porter created a flexible venue. “The space can be completely transformed based on needs—it’s so versatile. We made it into an art gallery lounge,” says Porter, who established the multi-media dance company in 2004. “Our goal is to have ongoing open gallery time—more hanging out than going out.”

With refinished hardwood floors, lounge areas, a new bar for receptions, and newly painted movable walls, the space can be reconfigured to accommodate video and film projections, art exhibitions, meetings, and rental events. “I always wanted to start a dance company. Something provoked me to do it one day,” adds Porter, 31, who fell in love with Pittsburgh after relocating from New Jersey. “I want to do something that makes art more approachable and appealing. It’s a walkable community space. Wilkinsburg and Homewood need it.”

Porter hopes to continue making improvements to the space, including adding black box capabilities. On the second Saturday of every month through September, The Space Upstairs features performances, refreshments donated by the East End Food Co-op, independent works by company and outside artists, and networking and cross-collaboration opportunities for artists.
Writer: Jennifer Baron
Source: Pearlann Porter, The Pillow Project

Image courtesy Dave Garson/Pillow Project

D's Sweets and Treets Deli opens along Regent Square business district

D’s Sweets and Treets Deli is the newest business to join Regent Square’s S. Braddock Ave. commercial corridor. Owned and operated by the DeFlavio family—who have run the neighborhood's popular and recently expanded D’s SixPax & Dogz since 1999—D’s Sweets and Treets Deli opens today at 1103 S. Braddock Ave.

The 1,000-square-foot deli and bakery—which specializes in fresh breakfast sandwiches—also carries a variety of baked goods, including macaroons, cookies, muffins, and croissants. D’s Sweets and Treets also sells juices, Boylan sodas and Turner Dairy Farms beverages.
“There hasn’t been a deli in this area in nine years—there’s a need
for this. It’s mutually beneficial to the other business,” says shop manager Danielle Sgro, who sees the deli as a complement to the eclectic mix of restaurants and boutiques that lines the thriving S. Braddock business district. “Everyone is really excited. People have been stopping in over the past few days as we’re doing the work.”

D’s Sweets and Treets also serves Kaleidoscope ice cream, shakes and sundaes, items from the Donut Connection co-operative and products from Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill. Decorated with murals by Pittsburgh-based painter Jeff Lucas—who created D’s SixPax’s signature wall art, Sweets and Treets features a Boars Head deli and bar and outdoor seating.

Contractor Mike Wood worked with the DeFlavio’s to renovate the shop. “We’re directly in front of the bus stop. It’s going to be great,” adds Sgro, a Regent Square resident. “It’s a great little neighborhood. I love living here.”

Writer: Jennifer Baron
Source: Danielle Sgro, D’s Sweets and Treets Deli

Photograph copyright Brian Cohen
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