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American Natural brings a modernized energy center to Station Square

American Natural, a subsidiary of New York-based energy company Cleopatra Resources LLC, will open what it calls the region’s first "energy center" at 73 East Carson Street in Station Square on July 25th.

In addition to offering standard gasoline and diesel fuels, the station will be the first in the region to sell compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative automobile fuel source.

“Natural gas is an abundant and attractively price commodity and we are extremely excited to bring this affordable, reliable and responsible product to the Pittsburgh market at a price just below two dollars per gallon,” says Jennifer Pomerantz, CEO of Cleopatra Resources.

In order to run on natural gas, most cars would need to be retro-fitted — a process which can cost up to several thousand dollars. American Natural's installation will be the second facility in Pittsburgh to offer CNG. Downtown-based EQT Corp. operates a CNG filling station in the Strip District.

According to Pomerantz, the fueling station, American Natural Retail’s first endeavor, will create around 20 permanent jobs in the Pittsburgh area.

In addition to its automotive fueling options, the center will contain the American Natural Eatery, offering customers a full menu of salads and sandwiches, a coffee bar featuring coffee from Buffalo, NY-based roaster SPoT, and baked goods from local establishments Allegro Hearth, Gluuteny and Sinful Sweets.

“Our food offerings are going to include full meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Pomerantz.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jennifer Pomerantz

Eat + Drink: Klavon's reopens with PSU ice cream, Hello Bistro expands, Nakama food truck and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly exploration of the best in local food news.

Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor reopening
Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, a Strip District mainstay, will hold a soft open on Sunday in celebration of National Ice Cream Day.

New owners Jacob and Desiree Hanchar won't make many changes to the place, but one will be notable: they've switched to ice cream from the Penn State Creamery, making Klavon's the only establishment in Pittsburgh to serve the internationally reknowned treat from State College.

“We’re keeping the menu as close to the same as possible,” Jacob Hanchar says. "We’re going to try to keep the phosphates, but they won’t be available during the soft open."

It will be the first day of business since former owner Raymond J. Klavon died of cancer in January. His family sold the building to the Hanchars in late June.

"We gave the place a fresh coat of paint. Other than that, we haven’t done a lot to the shop," Hanchar says. "We’re going to promote companies that are from Pittsburgh, local confectionary makers. We really want to keep the roots and the karma as authentic as possible.”

Hello Bistro expands to the South Side
Eat’n Park Hospitality Group’s Hello Bistro opened its second Pittsburgh location last week, this one at 1922 East Carson Street on the South Side.

The menu emphasizes fresh specialty burgers and salads, includes a variety of bottled beers, and offers a few of Eat’n Park’s mainstays, such as its potato soup and Smiley cookies.

The first Hello Bistro location opened last summer in Oakland, and Eat’n Park is planning a third location for Downtown.

Nakama to debut food truck
Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, which has already expanded across the city with express locations in each of the city’s major sporting venues and Carnegie Mellon University, is launching its first food truck.

The truck, custom-painted by South Side artist Danny Gardner, will feature traditional Japanese hibachi, seasonal sushi rolls, noodle dishes, fried rice and fresh salads, as well as daily specials.

The truck will debut Thursday in Schenley Park as part of the festivities surrounding the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

To find the Nakama food truck around town or check its daily specials, you can follow the truck on Facebook or Twitter (@nakamafoodtruck).

Planet Goodness brings organic options to the Alle-Kiski Valley
For more than a year, Stephanie Riedel, Jake Roach and Sue Ziegenfus have been working to revive the former grocery store at 1012 First Street in North Vandergrift, and turn it into an organic grocery store.

On July 27th, Planet Goodness will open to the public, bringing healthy and organic food to the suburbs northeast of Pittsburgh.

“Always good for the earth in the end is our main concept,” Riedel says. “We really are excited to be bringing the organic and natural food supply to the valley. There’s a lot of folks here who need and want better food choices.”

Planet Goodness will start off relatively small, occupying just 1,560 square feet of the building’s 2,500 square-foot first floor. But Riedel says that plans to keep expanding immediately after opening include a classroom and a recycled garden area.

“We want it to be something of a community hub,” Riedel says. “The thing about rural folks is they want a place to congregate.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Jacob Hanchar, Stephanie Riedel

Mon Wharf Switchback ramp meets funding goal

When Riverlife announced two weeks ago that it was launching an internet crowdfunding campaign to raise the last $4,454 needed to fund the Mon Wharf Switchback, it allowed a window of 60 days to raise the money.

“We blew through the goal in about 24 hours,” says Riverlife’s Stephan Bontrager. “This is one of those stories that shows how enthusiastic the Pittsburgh community can be.”

Redeveloped a few years ago, the Mon Wharf Landing still lacks a direct connection to Point State Park. The Mon Wharf Switchback will connect the Great Allegheny Passage and the Smithfield Street Bridge to Point State Park through the Mon Wharf Landing, creating access across a 40-foot elevation difference where there hasn’t been for generations.

With the initial funding goal met so quickly, Bontrager says that money raised above the initial goal will go toward improving trail signage in the area, making it easy for cyclists and pedestrians to identify the entrances and paths to the switchback. Riverlife refers to the project as “shovel-ready.”

“There’s a lot of site prep that’s going on. All of the engineering and permit design has been completed. We’re moving forward as quickly as humanly possible,” Bontrager says.

Riverlife hopes to have the Mon Wharf Switchback completed in time for the 2014 outdoor recreation season.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephan Bontrager

Eat + Drink: Skybar, Taverna 19, digging on vegan food

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly glance at the lastest happenings in the food scene in Pittsburgh.

A new bar on Carson Street? This one has a twist.

Skybar
, a new rooftop bar and lounge space located at 1601 East Carson Street, opened last week.

The seventh venture from Adam DiSimone’s AMPD Group, Skybar boasts Pittsburgh’s first-ever rooftop bar and swimming pool, four private rentable cabanas, and food delivery from sister restaurant Local.

The rooftop pool is open during the bar’s daylight hours, and at night, is covered by a transparent platform, making it part of the lounge area.

Skybar is open to the public, but requires either a ticket or reservation on weekends. Ticket prices for varying degrees of access at Skybar range between $10 and $1,000. DeSimone says there won't be a cover on weekdays, but there's only one way to skip any possible lines.

"A membership guarantees you access any time you want," DeSimone says. 

Taverna 19 set for mid-July opening
Pittsburgh will get a monstrous addition to its outdoor dining scene next month when Taverna 19, a Greek restaurant and bar, opens at 108 19th Street in the Strip District.

Specializing in Greek and Mediterranean fare, the 20,000-square foot spot will feature belly dancers on Wednesday through Saturday evenings and a nightclub space on its upper level, bottle service in VIP areas and walls lined with flowers and herbs grown for use in house cocktails.

Taverna 19 will also offer brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.

Stroll the Strip offers a little bit of everything
From a food standpoint, Pittsburgh has no more eclectic neighborhood than the Strip District. Tomorrow night, the second annual Stroll the Strip event will turn the district into a neighborhood party, offering participants a chance to sample nearly all of it.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Stroll the Strip invites participants to wander between the event’s 20 host locations — from Wholey Seafood to the Society for Contemporary Craft — and experience all the Strip has to offer in food, drink and art. 

Participants may walk between locations or take advantage of the Pittsburgh Tour Company’s double-decker bus, which will be circulating around the area and stopping at various locations.

The evening will conclude with an after part at Cruze Bar. Tickets to Stroll the Strip are available through ShowClix for $45, or may be purchased at the door for $55.

Randita’s Grill brings vegan fare to Saxonburg and beyond
Last May, Randy Cinski started Randita’s Grill — a food truck specializing in vegan cuisine that popped up everywhere from Washington’s Landing to outlying towns such as Cranberry and Butler.  When a storefront came open in Saxonburg earlier this year, she jumped at the opportunity to establish a permanent location.

“People were asking us to open a restaurant,” Cinski says. “It’s been jumping ever since."

Randita’s Grill, located at 210 West Main Street in Saxonburg, offers lunch and dinner service on Tuesday and Thursday, and lunch exclusively the rest of the week.  When she’s not in the restaurant, Cinski is likely out with her truck, spreading the word that eating well and eating healthy are not mutually exclusive.

“I want to help people figure out how to eat healthy,” Cinski says, adding that her clientele ranges from strict vegans and organic food enthusiasts to people looking to make significant changes in their diets and lifestyles. “Sometimes, I don’t think people even realize what they’re eating is vegan,” she says.

Cinski points to BBQ seitan wraps, African peanut stew and vegan meatball sandwiches as being among her most popular items, and says that she uses local ingredients and materials wherever possible.

“That sometimes dictates my menu,” she says. “We try really hard to buy from local people, right down to our eco-friendly disposable materials.”
 
Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Becky Rodgers, Randy Cinski, Adam DeSimone

South Side organization seeks to redevelop former Duquesne Brewery

The Brew House Association, a non-profit arts organization headquartered in the old Duquesne Brewery at 2100 Mary Street on the South Side, is looking for partners to assist in redeveloping the 114-year-old building.

The association, which provides housing and studio space to visiting artists, has owned the 104,000-square foot space since 2001 and occupied it since 1991, has hired South Side-based development consulting firm Civic Square to find development partners.

“The Brew House Association is seeking partners to to help tap the building’s potential and strengthen its organization,” says Civic Square’s Rick Belloli. “It will be a challenging but rewarding project to work on.”

Belloli speculates that the ultimate plan may involve a mix of ground-level retail space and office space on higher floors.

Civic Square and the Brew House Association will host a walking tour of the space for prospective investors on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and interested parties should e-mail Civil Square to RSVP.

The Duquesne Brewing Company opened the original building in 1899, and expanded the facility in 1950. In 1961, it purchased the now iconic giant clock and moved it from its location on Mount Washington to the top of its new facility, facing the Monongahela River.

Though the original Duquesne Brewing Company folded in 1972, the Duquesne Beer brand was resurrected in 2010.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rick Belloli

The Hardware Store brings a new cooperative, entrepreneurial space to South Pittsburgh

For a startup company or freelance media producer, office space can be an unaffordable luxury.

That’s why Josh Lucas, the founder of internet crowd-funding startup Crowdasaurus, had been looking to open a shared office space on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“It’s hard to run your company in a Google Hangout,” Lucas says, referring to Google's free videoconferecing tool.  

With help from with Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and developer RE 360, he found that space at 744 East Warrington Avenue in Allentown.

Dubbed The Hardware Store, the co-working office space is designed for entrepreneurs and freelance media producers to have access to fundamental, day-to-day business needs. Among its facilities, The Hardware Store will feature 30 desks, 20 glass markerboards, a podcasting studio, a full audio production suite and a 20-foot green screen.

Having access to the space and tools to create a product is only part of The Hardware Store’s appeal, says Lucas. “The benefit to a small company occupying this space is that they get to interact with the collaborative network of people coming through the doors. We’re using our network of entrepreneurs to get the space rolling.”

Anyone may apply to rent a desk in the space on a month-to-month basis, which includes access to all of The Hardware Store’s facilities. Day rates are also available for smaller project work.

The Hardware Store will be ready for tenants to begin occupying the shared space by July 1.

For more information on The Hardware Store, contact Crowdasaurus.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Josh Lucas

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: Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square; Aspara Cafe; The Steer and Wheel food truck

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- One of Pittsburgh’s newest food trucks is The Steer and Wheel, which serves antibiotic- and hormone-free beef burgers. All beef is sourced locally from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance, ground fresh daily on the truck, and served on Mediterra Bakehouse breads and rolls.

Burgers included the Chesapeake (Old Bay rub); The Bacon Squared (balsamic bacon jam, chive cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon on an onion roll); and the Andre (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, smoked gouda, grain mustard on an onion roll).

To find The Steer and Wheel food truck, look for them at The Coffee Buddha (often along with the PGH Taco Truck), or follow them on Twitter or Facebook. 412-230-7323.

- Apsara Cafe has opened in the South Side, a new restaurant offering Thai and Cambodian cuisine. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. 1703 East Carson Street. 412-251-0664.

- Il Pizzaiolo’s opened a second location in Market Square, serving its highly regarded and authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. Like the Mt. Lebanon original, the new restaurant’s pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning ovens, built by Italian artisans.

Il Pizzaiolo replaces the former Lubin and Smalley flower shop at 8 Market Square (between Starbucks and Moe’s Southwest Grill). The 40-seat restaurant includes a bar on each level of the storefront space. 412-575-5853.

- On Monday, April 22nd, Downtown’s Vallozzi’s will host a benefit dinner and film screening of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The event is a benefit for the Western Pennsylvania & West Virginia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online or at the door; for more information contact: rachealleelacek@gmail.com. 226 Fifth Avenue. Monday, April 22nd, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.


Writer: Andrew Moore

Eat + Drink: Tender Bar + Kitchen; Notion now open; Redbeard's; The Pub Chip Shop

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.


- Tender Bar + Kitchen will celebrate a grand opening next Friday, April 5th. The restaurant features a “Gatsby-era atmosphere,” regional American cuisine, and a craft cocktail list.

Renovations to the restaurant’s historic building—the former Arsenal Bank—unearthed artifacts such as bank checks from the 1890’s, a pair of handmade stone dice, and a vault alarm system, whose 1930’s electronics will be on display in the restaurant.

Tender is the second concept from Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina proprietor Jeff Catalina.  The menu includes regional dishes such as lobster rolls, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits. Tender is located at 4300 Butler Street, Lawrenceville. 412-402-9522.

- Notion has reopened in East Liberty. Chef-owner David Racicot closed the original Oakmont eatery in late 2011 with plans to bring the restaurant to a more central location in Pittsburgh. The smaller, 28-seat space is located at 128 S. Highland Avenue, near the neighborhood's many popular dining destinations, including BRGR, Abay Ethiopian Cuisine, Paris 66, and more.

- Piper's Pub owner Drew Topping is opening a new United Kingdom-style fish-and-chip shop called The Pub Chip Shop. The menu will include pasties, a stuffed British pastry, and other U.K. take-out fare.  It will be located in the adjacent Victorian storefront to Piper's Pub, at 1830 E. Carson Street. 

- Redbeard's  on 6th Sports Bar and Grill is opening soon in Downtown Pittsburgh, at 144 6th Street. It is a second location of the original Redbeard’s, which has served Mount Washington for more than 20 years.

Redbeard’s replaces the former Palazzo Ristorante, and is adjacent to Six Penn Kitchen. The Roberto Clemente Bridge is just one block away, which connects pedestrians to PNC Park on Pirates game days.
 

Writer: Andrew Moore

Great Allegheny Passage on track for spring completion; celebration date set

Mark your calendars: the final segments of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) will soon be complete.

On June 15th, a celebration will be held to mark the opening of the new trail segments, currently under construction at Sandcastle Waterpark and Keystone Metals.

The event, titled Point Made!, will take place in West Homestead and at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The GAP trail is a 141 mile car-free route for cyclists and hikers running from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, Maryland.  In Cumberland the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which together creates a continuous, 325-mile long trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Allegheny Trail Alliance President Linda Boxx says the idea for the GAP trail was first discussed over 40 years ago in 1973. Since then, the project has chugged along with trail segments built over time, occasionally just a mile at a time.

And in the Mon Valley, the Alliance didn’t have access to railroad properties. “We were basically negotiating with individual property owners piece by piece to put that alignment together,” Boxx says.

The event will begin a ribbon-cutting near Sandcastle, followed by a bike ride to The Point, where the party will take place. Boxx says the ride will be a bicycle parade party.

Construction of the final segments, which began last October, will actually be completed ahead of the event, by late May.

Point Made! will be preceded by a week-long bicycle ride from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, as well as a 24-hour relay that will leave D.C. on Friday and arrive Pittsburgh on the 8th

“There will be a lot of opportunities for communities to jump in and help us celebrate this great accomplishment,” Boxx says. “So many hands over so many years.”
 
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source:  Linda Boxx

Eat + Drink: Casa Rasta, Pizzarita, Texas de Brazil, Egyptian in Brookline: Isis Cafe

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.

The popular Beechview restaurant Casa Rasta has reopened at a new space on Broadway Avenue, just two doors down from its original location. While patrons can still order tacos and burritos—like jerk chicken or citrus marinated pork—an expanded menu now includes appetizers, entrees, and desserts. 

Chef Antonio Fraga says these new menu items are an even better showcase of Casa Rasta’s fusion of Caribbean and Mexican flavors, including beef tongue with avocado or Isleño sauce, and a Caribbean salad with grilled pineapple, roasted corn, and spicy coconut.

The new space—at 2056 Broadway Avenue—also includes a full-service bar, though a liquor license is still pending. The restaurant seats up to 60, including a seasonal outdoor dining area. 

In the former Casa Rasta space—which sat only ten, and was primarily take-out—Fraga and his wife, Laura, plan to open a vegan and vegetarian restaurant serving Rastafarian Ital cuisine. They expect to open the new eatery within the next several months.

Casa Rasta first opened just over a year ago, in December 2011. Previously the couple had briefly operated a taco stand in the Strip District. 412-918-9683.

- Texas de Brazil has announced it will open a new, 7,500-square-foot restaurant in the South Side’s Station Square. It will be the Brazilian steakhouse’s 27th location. Seating over 200, the restaurant will include an interchangeable bar and patio space with river views.  Visit the restaurant's website to stay updated on an opening date.

- Isis Café, a new restaurant serving Egyptian cuisine, opened recently in Brookline.  Its menu features traditional Egyptian dishes—including okra tagen, duck with honey, samboussa, and fava bean falafel—with special entrees changing daily.

Isis is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and offers a Sunday brunch.  815 Brookline Boulevard. 412-207-2485.

- Pizzarita opened recently in Shaler Township, the third pizzeria owned by the Posteraro family.  It joins Bloomfield’s Angelo’s and Grazzino’s pizza shops.  Located off Route 8 (580 Burchfield Road), Pizzarita is open Tuesday through Sunday. 412-487-1112.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore

The Brix at 26 luxury apartments now leasing on South Side

A steel mill’s former company store has a new life as luxury apartments on the South Side.  The Brix at 26, a renovation of the former Goodwill building, will welcome its first residents on February 1st.

Located at the corner of East Carson and 26th Streets, near the South Side Works, the project brings 87  1-and 2-bedroom apartments to the 110-year-old building.  A project of Burns & Scalo, the seven-story historic structure is a certified Class-G renovation, a sustainability and energy-efficiency rating created by developer Jim Scalo in 2009.

The building features numerous lounge and entertainment spaces, including a garden patio and fireplace, a fifth-floor roof-top terrace, on-site storage and a catering kitchen.

One-bedroom apartments range from 601 to 1316 square feet, with monthly rents of $1450 to $2100; two-bedrooms from 850 to 1316 square feet, with rents from $1736 to $2200. 

Serena Kumar, of Amore Management Company, notes that due to top-rate location, amenities and views, the developers aren’t shy about asking for top-dollar rents. “It’s going to be one of the most dynamic places to live,” she says.

There are 45 different floor plans in the building, including two-level lofts. Ceiling heights range from 9 to 16 feet and a 24-hour emergency maintenance service will also be offered.  There are currently 20 leases signed.

Renovation work on the building began in January 2012.  A newly constructed on-site garage is available to tenants, behind and below the apartment building.  An additional surface lot is located across Sarah Street.

Built in the early 1900’s as the Pittsburgh Mercantile Company, the building was once the Jones & Laughlin company store.  The J&L steel mill was formerly located at the site of the present South Side Works. 

Brix at 26 is adjacent to the new ALDI grocery store, and is one block from LA Fitness.

A retail space is included in the building’s Carson Street storefront, though the developers are still seeking a tenant.  Kumar says her company is seeking input from future renters to secure a business that will be seen as an amenity to residents.
 

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Serena Kumar 

Eat + Drink: River City Java in Uptown, Acacia craft cocktails, Ramen Bar, Crux, and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's roundup of Pittsburgh's food scene.
 

- Squirrel Hill’s Ramen Bar celebrated a grand opening on January 2nd.  The restaurant is dedicated to the Japanese noodle dish that is its namesake, a concept popular throughout Asia and elsewhere.  5860 Forbes Avenue.   Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.  412-521-5138.

Also in Squirrel Hill, Tan Lac Vien, a Vietnamese bistro, opened recently at 2114 Murray Avenue.  412-521-8888.
 
- Uptown has a coffee shop once again.  River City Java held a soft opening recently in the space once occupied by Asylum Coffee Bar, which closed in 2010. 

For the past two years, owner Kelly Russell has worked with the nonprofit StartUptown to bring other businesses to the neighborhood.  Now, she hopes her coffee shop can provide a community gathering place for those new arrivals and longtime denizens, and will further rebuilding efforts in Uptown.  1919 Forbes Avenue.

- Acacia is one of East Carson Street's newest drinking establishments, but you'll have to look a little harder than normal to find it.  The bourbon and whiskey bar is marked only by the Masonic Acacia logo, and has no windows or other adornment.

The candle-lit “conversation bar” features 116 types of bourbon, whiskey, and scotch, draft beer, and craft cocktails.  And despite its clandestine appearance, membership is not required.  A small-plate menu is under development.

Co-owner Lynn Falk was manager at the Strip District’s former Embury and Firehouse Lounge.  Falk and Spencer Warner will soon be re-opening Embury in the second-floor space above Acacia, in the former Z-Lounge building.  2108 E Carson Street.  412-488-1800.

- In Mount Washington, The Micro Diner is now serving classic breakfast fare and lunch seven days a week, and is even open late on Friday and Saturday nights.  221 Shiloh Street.  412-381-1391.

- The next Crux dinner—a nomadic, pop-up project of Chef Brandon Baltzley—will take place at the South Side’s Stagioni.  The meal, a collaboration with Chef Stephen Felder, will feature a 7-course modern Italian menu.

Baltzley’s collaborative kitchen series has traveled through Boston, Chicago and New York, and since last October he has hosted occasional dinners in Pittsburgh.  The event at Stagioni will be held on Monday, January 14th, at 7 p.m.  For reservations and more information, call 412-586-4738.

 
 Writer:  Andrew Moore

Great Allegheny Passage near complete, final segments underway

The Great Allegheny Passage is almost complete, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held this weekend to celebrate the construction of the trail’s final two segments.

The trail is a 141 mile car-free route for cyclists and hikers running from Homestead, PA to Cumberland, Maryland.  In Cumberland the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, which together creates a continuous, 325-mile long trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Saturday’s ceremony was held at Sandcastle Waterpark, where a new segment will be built along the amusement park’s interior road, at the rear of the park.  The new segment will be separated from vehicular traffic.

The final segment will be built on a former railroad spur on land that had until recently belonged to Keystone Iron and Metal.  Friends of the Riverfront (FOR) had worked with Keystone to develop a land-swap deal that was necessary to fill this final void in the trail.

“They’ve been a great partner for a very long time and it was a pleasure working with them now and into the future,” says Thomas Baxter, FOR executive director.

Baxter expects the two segments to be complete sometime next year in late spring or early summer.  Once complete, a trail party will be held to commemorate the occasion.  Baxter says a date will be announced soon.

“It’s a monumental undertaking, but thankfully, through a lot of dedicated people it’s finally all coming together,” Baxter says.

The Great Allegheny Passage has been a work in progress for the past 30 years.  In 1995 the Allegheny Trail Alliance was formed, a coalition of regional trail organizations that includes the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Steel Valley Trail Council, Mountain Maryland Trails, and more.

 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source: Thomas Baxter

Pittsburgh Step Trek will celebrate unique step lighting project this weekend

At the annual Pittsburgh Step Trek this Saturday, October 6th, the South Side Slopes neighborhood is celebrating something new: the completion of a step-lighting project unlike any other in the city.

The neighborhood is covered in steps, which are necessary to navigate the hills that rise above the South Side Flats.  And many of these staircases are actual city streets where homes are accessible by foot only.  In many ways these steps define the neighborhood.

“It’s very unique and it speaks to the idea of how do you inhabit an urban hillside, and it’s a fascinating thing,” says architect and neighborhood resident Peter Kreuthmeier.  “I think they should be treasured, and they should be maintained, and they should be celebrated.”

So the fact that the neighborhood’s most prominent steps, rising above 18th Street, were in disrepair, unlit, and felt generally unsafe was a problem that needed a creative solution. 

As an Elm Street Community, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and the South Side Local Development Corporation developed a plan to light the steps, and use them as an inviting gateway to the neighborhood.

Now, five years later, the staircase lighting project is complete.  Each stair tread is illuminated by a linear LED fixture.  And projector fixtures, attached to cor-ten steel poles, carpet the steps in ambient lighting.

The lighting project was designed in collaboration with Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects, studio i architectural lighting, Klavon Design Associates, Watson Engineers and Baker Engineering.  It’s the latest of three gateway projects, all of which feature the steel alloy cor-ten, chosen for its durability and historical significance to the neighborhood.

“Cor-ten is just a very visceral material that resonates with the historic industrial lifeblood of the South Side,” Kreuthmeier says.  “It shouts steel.”

Duquesne Light funded the entire project’s lighting, over $120,000, through its Power of Light Grant Program.

The 12th annual Step Trek, a mapped hike through the neighborhood's numerous city steps, will take place this Saturday, October 6th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration is held at 21st and Josephine Streets at the South Side Park.  The Trek features two routes, Black and Gold, which are 3.6 and 2.1 miles respectively.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lisa Kahle; Peter Kreuthmeier
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