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Mt. Washington's Saddle Trail will hold grand opening Sunday

The Saddle Trail Head, a small but beautiful segment of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation’s grand plan to develop the 257-acre Emerald View Park, is complete, and the MWCDC will hold a grand opening on Sunday.

The trail head, which starts halfway down the perilously steep and windy Sycamore Street, will have limited parking on the right side of the road, and, crossing William Street, will connect to trails which lead into Grandview Park.

“In the fall, there are going to be beautiful views of Downtown and the rivers from further east along the ridge,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, the MWCDC’s director of park development and conservation, who is overseeing the redevelopment of Mt. Washington’s trail system with the help of the Emerald Trail Corps. “The whole thing is less than a mile, but it’s a hike.”

Sunday’s festivities will start at 2:45 p.m. in Grandview Park, located at 499 Bailey Avenue. From there, hikers will be shuttled over to the trail head on Sycamore Street for a guided tour, which will lead back to Grandview Park.

Timbeleza, a Brazilian drum troupe, will play along the guided hike, and refreshments will be available at 4 p.m. in Grandview Park when the hike ends.

The trails in the Mt. Washington Park section of the Emerald View Park, which the MWCDC and Trail Corps previewed to the media and local leaders two weeks ago, will wrap around the mountain from the heart of Mt. Washington to Grandview Park in Allentown.

Manspeizer says that volunteers have removed nearly 100,000 pounds of garbage from these trails over the last six years, and that they’ll be ready for their own grand opening at some point in October.

In the meantime, all of the trails remain open to the public.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ilyssa Manspeizer

Eat + Drink: Spirits in the Strip and a Party at the Pier

Eat + Drink is...well, this week, it's just about drinks.

Wigle Whiskey will introduce organic bitters

After just a year of hand-crafting small-batch spirits, Wigle Whiskey will launch its first line of bitters next month with a September 13th release party at their distillery in the Strip District.

Chris Kuhn of Social at Bakery Square and Wes Shonk of Meat & Potatoes outgrowth Butcher and The Rye have each created specialty cocktails designed to showcase Wigle’s first two varieties of bitters, Aromatic and Rosemary Lavender. Both will be available at the party, along with small plates and a very particular kind of art exhibit.

“The Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society has illustrated all of the botanicals that we used in the bitters,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. The society’s works will be on display, as will some of the actual plants Wigle used to craft the bitters, thanks to the Phipps Conservancy.

Grelli says that because the federal government treats bitters as a category apart from other alcohol products, an entirely different set of “nice, easy standards” applies. While bitters typically include certain chemicals, such as dyes or acids, Wigle’s bitters are entirely organic.

“Since we’re using whole, real botanicals, it’s been a six-month process of their lab doing tests to certify that people wouldn’t be able to drink it on its own,” Grelli says.

Wigle plans to release two new varieties of bitters in the Spring of 2014.

Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery coming to the Strip District
Between whiskey makers, wineries and breweries large and small, what more could Pittsburgh possibly want from its alcohol culture?

“There’s nobody making rum or brandy here right now,” says Tim Russell. “I don’t think there are any good American-made rums available to people in Pennsylvania. The state stores have the Caribbean products, and that’s about it.”

Russell is aiming to change that. His company, Allegheny Distilling, LLC, is set to begin making Maggie’s Farm Rum within the next month in his distillery at 3212A Smallman Street.

“Right now, the equipment is in place. I need to get a small ventilation system for my still,” says Russell, who’s already been approved for state and federal permits. “Other than that, we should be able to start production in a couple of weeks.”

Russell says production at Maggie’s Farm will start with white rum, but that he hopes to also produce a few varieties of brandy. He also says that within the next few months, he hopes to add a cocktail bar and a tasting room to the distillery.

Riverlife's Party at the Pier
Looking for something fun to do next Friday? Riverlife is hosting its annual Party at the Pier at the North Shore Riverfront Ampitheater.

The evening of dining, drinking and dancing features fresh local food, signature cocktails and music from DJ Espy. There will be 20-minute boat rides aboard the Gateway Clipper at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., as well as firedancing performances. 

If you're looking to get to one more great party on the water before summer's over, we heartily suggest checking this out.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Tim Russell

Concert and community picnic add a neighborhood feel to McKees Rocks 5k race

McKees Rocks is always looking to improve its annual Run Your Rox Off 5K.

“The 5K is our signature event,” says Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation. “Most of our runners come from outside the community, so we’ve had a nice reach in attracting people from all over the region. Each year we try to have something new and different.”

This year’s incarnation will take place Friday evening at the Miles Bryan School at 1125 Wayne Avenue in McKees Rocks, and include a community picnic and a concert in the large green space next to the school.

“It’s all outdoors, which is great because you have these beautiful, immense trees and this fantastic view,” Vrcek says. “It’s a really special setting for an event like this — just a really neat place.”

The race, which winds its way through several McKees Rocks-area residential neighborhoods, is unlike any other in the area.

“This is a challenging course because of some of the hills we have here,” Vrcek says. “A lot of the folks who live in the area will come out and cheer on the runners, and that’s not something you get with a lot of 5Ks.”

In keeping with the neighborhood’s theme, top finishers receive rocks emblazoned with plaques in lieu of medals.

The picnic, which will begin at 6 p.m., will feature food from local restaurants -- including Pierogies Plus, Mancini's Bakery, Silverstar Meats, 5 Generation Bakers and Mama Lena Pizza -- music and family-oriented entertainment.

The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a set by hip-hop artist and McKees Rocks native Terence Austin. Country artist Dawn Savage will perform at 7 p.m., and following the race awards ceremony, local jazz outfit George Heid III Trio will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.

Runners may register for the race on the event’s website or in-person prior to the event on Friday.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tavis Vrcek

Juice Up 412 expands its mission to democratize healthy food

“How do you make it something that someone would want to drink if they weren’t already interested in health?”

That’s what Majestic Lane and his partners at Juice Up 412 —self-described “juice evangelists” — ask themselves nearly every day.

“Our goal is to get folks to be more conscious about what they’re eating,” Lane says. “We’re interested in bringing juices to populations where health and wellness are not seen as priorities.”

So far, that ambition has taken Juice Up 412 from a stand in the Strip District into a series of partnerships with community organizations and non-profits. They were awarded an Awesome Pittsburgh grant last year, and have since partnered with Bar Marco’s new East Liberty venture, The Livermore, to establish a permanent presence.

Just as Bar Marco is democratizing food, Lane says, he and his partners are looking to do the same for health and wellness.

“We’re looking to get into different neighborhoods,” says Lane, who likes the idea of having pop-up juice bars in underserved communities, not only to expose underserved populations to healthy options which taste good, but to get kids interested in taking their health seriously. “We want to be on the cutting edge of social innovation and enterprise, especially in communities that don’t have things like that happen.”

On September 14th and 15th, Juice Up 412 will take its operation to the Thelma Lovette YMCA in the Hill District, where they’ll serve up fresh juice as a part of State Representative Jake Wheatley’s Health and Wellness Weekend.

To learn more about Juice Up 412, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Majestic Lane

New storm water garden will help reduce runoff, beautify Larimer

It rids a community of a blighted brownfield. It redistributes rainwater to help prevent flooding. And to boot, it’s a squarely beautiful sight.

Sunday afternoon saw local leaders cut the ribbon on a storm water management garden — a new addition to the Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center, at the corner of East Liberty Boulevard and Larimer Avenue in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh.

“I wanted to have a show-and-tell place — somewhere where people could see these materials,” says state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park. “You’ll see storyboards explaining why the storm water garden is important.”

The Penn State Center’s Lisa Vavro designed the park, and the Pittsburgh department of public works handled the construction. The park’s opening coincided with the second annual Larimer Green Street Fair.

The EECO Center, which opened last June on property which previously held an abandoned gas station, offers the community classes, workshops and services designed to help low-income residents in the East End not only be more energy efficient, but save money in the process.

“One of our goals is to build a greener, smarter and sustainable future, and this is a place that people can come and learn about these issues,” Ferlo says.

Storm water runoff is one of the bigger environmental problems facing Pittsburgh, as evidenced by the tragic flash flooding deaths which occurred on Washington Boulevard last year — flooding to which runoff from Larimer contributed.

“Building one garden is not going to mitigate that issue, but as we keep building with public dollars, we need to build smarter,” Ferlo says. “I want this to be a launching pad.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sen. Jim Ferlo

Eat + Drink: Two long-awaited openings and the return of a local brunch favorite

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at all the news that's fit to eat.

The Livermore opens today!
Following a soft opening last Friday that co-owner Bobby Fry described as “madness,” The Livermore, a long-awaited cocktail-café spot from the forces behind Bar Marco, will officially open its doors to the public today.

On top of a selection of craft cocktails that Fry says will always differ from the ones on the menu at Bar Marco, The Livermore will offer a variety of traditional cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages at lower price points.

Additionally, Juice UP 412, which creates special fruit and vegetable juice blends on weekends at Bar Marco, will expand its operation into the new space.

The Livermore will also offer small plates and lunch service, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a variety of house-made crostini, with no item priced higher than seven dollars.

The bar, crafted from a repurposed bowling alley the owners hauled to Pittsburgh from Ashtabula, Ohio, provides both customers and workers with ample space, and may be one of the best-designed in the city.

The Livermore will be open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Also opening today? Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room
The artisan pizza and beer joint held its soft opening party on Monday evening, and the Proper Brick Oven’s pizza proved worth the wait.

You can never go wrong with a classic Margherita — Proper does theirs with house-made mozzarella, fresh basil and San Marzano tomatoes — but the real surprise was the Black & Gold pizza, topped with crispy Yukon gold potatoes, roasted gold beets, roasted garlic spread, cracked black pepper, olive oil and Pecorino-Romano.

Proper’s selection of 30 American craft beers — 19 of which are from Pennsylvania-based breweries — offer enough variety to please everyone from casual pilsner drinkers to hopheads and Belgian fans (development news was delighted to find North Coast’s Brother Thelonious on tap, while the boss stuck to her IPAs).

Salt of the Earth revives ramen brunch
Kevin Sousa’s Salt of the Earth in Garfield will revive its popular ramen brunch on the third Sunday of each month.

“We’d had a decent run with it, and in the vein of everything else we do here, we wanted to keep things fresh,” says Salt chef Chad Townsend. “We wanted to explore some other options.”

Still, Townsend says that public demand for the ramen brunch contributed to its return.

“Now that it’s starting to get to get to the end of the summer and we’re going to be getting into some cold months, it seemed like a good cold-weather dish,” Townsend says.

Salt will offer a pork ramen for $18 and a seitan option for $16.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Bobby Fry, Chad Townsend

Local artist James Simon will unveil new mosaic mural in Uptown on Friday

In an ongoing effort to help remake Uptown, local sculptor James Simon has installed numerous pieces of public art as a part of his Art on Gist Street project. But when his latest mural, a tile mosaic, is unveiled on Friday, his won’t have been the only hand in the work.

Simon collaborated on the project with ACH Clear Pathways, a Hill District non-profit which offers summer camps and after-school programs with foundations in the arts.

“They approached me about a program that kids could help with in the summer,” says Simon. “When I work with kids or young adults, my goal is always to make a high-quality piece of public art.”

This particular piece, which will be displayed on the side of a house at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Gist Street, saw Simon work with a group of about 30 children from the Hill, all between the ages of 5 and 12.

“Rose Reilly, the woman who lives in the house, she loves what we're doing in the neighborhood, and she told me that if we ever wanted to do something on her wall then we could,” says Simon.

“He’s just awesome,” says ACH Clear Pathways Founder and Executive Director Tyian Battle of Simon. “He’s patient, he’s respectful, and he worked with our kids to teach them how to make and display mosaic art.”

Battle’s campers worked with Simon at his Gist Street studio two days a week for seven weeks over the summer.

“He told me this was his first time working with young kids and said he was impressed,” says Battle, who founded ACH Clear Pathways in 2009 following the sudden death of her 7-year-old son, Amon Harris.

The kids will see the fruits of their and Simon’s labor on Friday afternoon, when Clear Pathways hosts a small block party on Gist Street, between Forbes Avenue and Watson Street to unveil the mural.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: James Simon, Tyian Battle

Remaking Cities Congress will convene in Pittsburgh this October

Twenty-five years ago, urban planners, architects and civil engineers from around the country and the world convened in Pittsburgh with the specific aim of addressing the problems facing historically industrial cities in a post-industrial world.

The gathering, called the Remaking Cities Institute, involved days of closed-door meetings, idea exchanges and ultimately, a set of recommendations and principles for industrial cities around the world to set about pulling themselves out of their post-industrial funk.

From October 15th to 18th, the organization, now called the Remaking Cities Congress, will gather 300 of the world’s leading urbanists here once again to review what worked, what didn’t and to issue a new list of recommendations which will inform and guide the next generation of urban planning policy for post-industrial cities from Pittsburgh to Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

“There were policy recommendations, and people walked away from [those sessions] and said, ‘we’re going to see how these affect our urban centers,’” says Pam Wigley, the director of media relations for Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts, who is helping to organize the congress. “The delegates have closed-door sessions on urban planning. They vote, they make decisions on policy, research and economic impact, among other things.”

Pittsburgh has benefitted from several of the recommendations put forth by the last gathering, including making substantial efforts to reclaim riverfronts and redevelop brownfields. Other involved areas, such as Detroit, have had substantially less success.

The congress’s honorary chair, Charles, the Prince of Wales, attended the 1988 conference in Pittsburgh, but this time will send a delegate in his stead and deliver his address via a videotaped message.

“Prince Charles has always had an interest in urban development and community planning,” Wigley says.

In addition to a series of invitation-only sessions, the congress will include several speakers such as Richard Florida and The Brookings Institute's Bruce Katz, as well as a host of tours and mobile workshops which will showcase various aspects of Pittsburgh's resurgence as case studies in post-industrial redevelopment.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Pam Wigley

Mattress Factory to open new gallery space on Sampsonia Way

Pittsburgh’s installation art scene will get another boost next month when the Mattress Factory, the museum in the Mexican War Streets section of the city’s North Side, opens a new satellite gallery in a repurposed house down the street from its main facility.

“The Mattress Factory has a history of repurposing older buildings,” says Abby Vanim, membership coordinator and development associate for the museum, which has owned the property for several years. “516 was really just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.”

After mildly rehabilitating the 2,500-square-foot space at 516 Sampsonia Way, the space is currently being outfitted with a large installation project by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.

Shiota, who has worked out of Berlin since 1996, came to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August and has been covering the interior of the building with more than a million feet of yarn.

“She’d never had that big of a space to work with before,” Vanim says. “It’s nice to work in a space that has a little more character and a little more history to it. She’s used to working with plain, white gallery space.”

Shiota’s exhibit, which will be on display for a year, will open as part of a large event on September 12th, and will include brand new exhibits in the Mattress Factory’s main space at 500 Sampsonia Way, as well as in its multi-gallery facility at 1414 Monterey Street.

The evening will include live music from local band Lungs Face Feet.

Admission will be $15 at the door, and student discounts will be available. As always, Vanim says, museum members may attend free of charge.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Abby Vanim

Eat + Drink: A French patisserie in Squirrel Hill, an outdoor dinner in Downtown and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly romp through news which makes your mouth water.

Gaby et Jules brings fine French pastries to Squirrel Hill
Fred Rongier and David Piquard’s grandfathers shared the dream of opening bakeries in France. Neither ever did, but their grandsons are living out those dreams in Pittsburgh.

Gaby et Jules, a French patisserie from Paris 66 owner Rongier and Piquard, his master pastry chef, will hold its soft open at the end of August with a grand opening to take place in September. The shop is located at 5837 Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which formerly held the Oliver Flower Shop.

“In France, a bakery is a boulangerie.” says Rongier. “That’s not what we’re doing. This is a patisserie. Everything looks better and tastes better.”

Rongier says that in addition to Piquard’s famous French macarons, the shop will offer all manner of French baked goods which have helped make Paris 66 the city’s premiere spot for authentic French cuisine.

“He likes to make things,” Rongier says of Piqurad. “He’s going to wake up like an artist in the morning and he’s going to create a dessert. He doesn’t want to copy someone else’s. He does his own. He’s the one with the golden fingers.”

In addition to retail business, Rongier says he expects Gaby et Jules to develop a solid wholesale business, as Paris 66 already sells a lot of baked goods in larger quantities to local restaurants.

“We’ll do a lot of wedding cakes, for sure. If you go to someone else’s house and you want to bring a tart, you’ll have it,” Rongier says. “You won’t even want to eat it, it’s so nice.”

Bloggers will host outdoor dinner in Downtown
Local food blog eatPGH is teaming up with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to host what’s being called Pittsburgh’s first urban supper.

“It’s basically dinner outside,” said eatPGH’s Laura Zorch. “Everybody’s doing farm dinners, which are fantastic, but how about something between skyscrapers?”

The dinner, which will take place on September 14th in the lot at 919 Liberty Avenue in Downtown, will feature a seven-course meal designed and cooked by local chefs Richard DeShantz of Meat & Potatoes and Keith Fuller of Root 174.
Zorch says that final details will be announced later this week, but that tickets for the dinner will cost $125 and include both the meal and an open bar.

“We’re still working out right now how many people we can fit in the space. We’re hoping to have up to 100,” Zorch says.

Full Pint Brewing opens an in-house pub
Since its inception in 2009, Full Pint Brewing has become one of Pittsburgh’s most popular local breweries.

Now, the North Versailles-based craft beer maker has added a scaled-down brew pub to its facilities.

In addition to growler sales and a bar, Full Pint now offers a menu of appetizers and sandwiches, served in an endearingly informal atmosphere in its warehouse brewery. The pub is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through  Wednesday, from 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Hours are subject to change if the pub is empty after 9 p.m.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Fred Rongier, Laura Zorch

Steel and moss mural and more for grand opening of first Millvale library

A hundred years ago, Millvale — which covers less than one square-mile across the Allegheny River from Lawrenceville — was home to nearly 8,000 people. It thrived and collapsed along with the industries of the region.

On Sunday, Millvale will take one giant step toward its revitalization when the doors open to the Millvale Community Library — the first public library in the borough’s 145-year history.

Millvale will celebrate with a day-long block party featuring food, live music, games and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  The festivities will also include the unveiling of a new mural — made entirely of steel and moss, and featuring the word “imagine” with a silhouette of the Millvale skyline — on the side of an adjacent building the library owns.

The library, which will include print materials, digital resources, computer access and a full slate of community class offerings, will be open 30 hours a week and occupy a 2,400-square-foot space at 213 Grant Avenue.

“It’s really been a local community effort with a lot of regional tie-ins and support,” says Brian Wolovich, president of the library’s board of trustees, who has worked on the project since its inception in 2007. “Hopefully, we can use this to further capitalize the development and redevelopment of the neighborhood itself.”

The product of over 50,000 hours from more than 1,000 volunteers, the library received four years of fiscal sponsorship from startup supporter New Sun Rising before striking out on its own.

“There’s no manual on how to just start a library,” Wolovich says, adding that the non-profit worked closely with the Shaler North Hills Library, Allegheny County and design and architecture firm Pfaffmann + Associates to make the facility a reality. “We view the space as a community center as much as we do a library,” Wolovich says. “It’s an agent for positive change.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Wolovich, Gianna Paniagua

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh expanding into old Allegheny Regional Library building

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is pursuing a plan to expand into the former Allegheny Regional branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as it looks to both extend its program offerings and alleviate overcrowding in its current space.

“Plans are not completely set in stone,” says Chris Siefert, the museum’s deputy director. “We’re working with the city and exploring the possibilities to get that building occupied.”

The former library’s proximity to the museum and the museum’s need for more space make the expansion a natural fit.
“We’ve had a significant growth in our attendance. We’re seeing over 250,000 people per year,” Siefert says. “Over the last two or three years, we’ve really noticed pressure on our physical space. This is sort of a continuation of our cultural campus and growing our space.”

According to Siefert, the museum has established an agreement with the city under which it will conduct an engineering assessment of the building to begin evaluating how to bring it up to code, make it more accessible and suitable for use. Constructed between 1886 and 1890, the building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

Siefert also says that the museum plans to hold events to “check in with the community” every 90 days to get feedback on what people want and how to best include it in the renovation. The first such event will be held today from 4:30 to 6:30 at the vacant building, and will include guided tours of the first and second floors, as well as opportunities for people to present feedback.

Siefert anticipates the first phase of the project will cost between $5.5 and $7 million, with another $10 to $15 million to insure the location’s financial stability. He says it’s conceivable the space could be ready for the museum to use by mid-2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Siefert

1135 Penn Condos offer significant tax credits to buyers

The space at 1135 Penn Avenue in Downtown, behind Eleven and vacant for the last five years, will soon house five  condominiums.

Designed and co-developed by Front Studio Architects in conjunction with construction firm MM Marra, 1135 Penn will feature five full-floor units, each consisting of at least 2,000 square feet.

According to Art Lubetz, a principal with Front Studio, buyers of units at 1135 Penn are eligible for tax credits under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act (LERTA), which offers 10-year abatements of up to $250,000 of the improved assessed value of a unit. This could save prospective buyers as much as $60,000.

Additionally, Allegheny County is also offering three-year abatements on the first $86,750 of each unit’s value.

The existing structure, which formerly housed a poultry slaughterhouse, dates to 1917 and will be outfitted with heating and cooling units in each condo, high-performance acoustic windows, bare brick walls and indoor parking spaces.

“The top floor has a large roof terrace, and the other two have terraces in the front of the building, which faces south,” says Lubetz.

Two of the units are already sold. Once Front Studio and Marra sell a third, they’ll begin construction, which they anticipate will take about five months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Art Lubetz

Eat + Drink: Toss't opening Downtown, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Alley Brewing tasting

Eat + Drink is Pop City's routine review of reporting on rations.

Toss’t to open Downtown on August 13
Toss’t, the fast-casual salad concept spot from Julian Valozzi, will begin training staff tomorrow and plans to open its doors on August 13.

Located at 222 Fifth Avenue in Downtown, Toss’t will offer a variety of signature salads, customizable salads, wraps and Greek yogurt and will be open for lunch and dinner on weekdays.

Valozzi, owner of the Downtown Italian restaurant Valozzi’s right next door, says, “What I’m most excited about is getting back to working with some of the local, independent farmers as opposed to the larger food purveyors. It’s nice to talk with these guys and get to know and see exactly where our food is coming from.”

Toss’t will focus mainly on takeout business, but will offer minimal indoor seating, as well as some outdoor seating during warmer months.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week preview party will be tomorrow on the North Side
This year’s summer edition of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week will tantalize diners with a preview party, scheduled for tomorrow night at the North Side’s National Aviary.

Party-goers will be able to preview food, browse menus and make reservations from some of the 69 restaurants taking part in restaurant week.

Tickets may be purchased online through ShowClix for $50 prior to the event, or for $60 at the door. The party will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pittsburgh Restaurant week will run from August 12 to 18. A full list of participating restaurants and deals is available on the PRW’s website.

Alley Brewing will hold free tasting at Bocktown tonight
When Josh Hays and Eric Bedont used to sit on their friend Chris Leber’s porch and talk about starting a business, they weren’t sure what form it would take.

“We’ve always had a passion to come up with some kind of business,” Leber says.

Once the three friends discovered craft beer, they were hooked. Named after the Brick Alley red light district of McKeesport’s yesteryear, Alley Brewing has turned into one of Pittsburgh’s most popular under-the-radar, amateur craft beer operations.

“Right now, we’re still in the homebrew phase,” Leber says. “We’re brewing in Cranberry, in my garage. My garage is overrun with brewing equipment.”

Six of Alley Brewing’s offerings will be available tonight when the trio holds a free tasting at the Bocktown Beer and Grill in Robinson. The selection will include an imperial IPA, a session IPA, a white IPA aged on peaches and apricots, a Belgian-style tripel, a saison and a new, experimental IPA.

“Those are the ones we started with more so than anything, and we’re kind of expanding out from there,” Leber says.

The trio’s ultimate goal is to open up their own Pittsburgh area brewpub, but as with the brewing process, the men behind Alley are taking their time.

“Before we ever brewed our first recipe or did anything with home brewing, we did about eight or nine months of research and learned how to do it,” Leber says.

Since then, they’ve dabbled in 18-20 different kinds of beer, and said they feel that about 10 of their recipes are where they want them.

Still, they’re going to make sure they’re as thorough as possible before looking to open their own pub.

“It’s one of those things where it can start as your passion, but it can rub off on the entire community,” Leber says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Chris Leber, Josh Hays, Julian Valozzi

Grocery store with focus on local produce coming to Lawrenceville

Starting in October, a new joint venture between two neighborhood residents will bring organic, locally-sourced food to Upper Lawrenceville.

The 52nd Street Market will hearken back to the days of the neighborhood corner grocery while offering residents a local option for healthy food and produce.

“We really do want people to feel like it’s their corner store,” says Dora Walmsley, one of the market’s co-owners.

Walmsley, who works for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, met co-owner Deirdre Kane while working on Lawrenceville’s organic community gardens.

The market will occupy the first-floor space at 601 52nd Street, which years ago was a corner grocery called Bloomfield Market. Walmsley and Kane were looking for a location when they learned that the building had just been sold to real estate development firm PA Wealth Builders, which initially planned to use the space for its offices.

When Walmsley and Kane approached Jon Perry from the firm about using the first-floor space for a market, he was eager to help.

“He believed in our vision,” Kane says. “He believed in local food economy and remodeled the building for us at no extra charge.”

Walmsley and Kane hope to cull as much of their stock as possible from local farms and community gardens. Eventually they hope the market which is scheduled to open in mid-October, could be supplied by its own small farm.

“We hope to acquire land to have a little farmette,” Walmsley says. “The farmette will supply the market, which will hopefully sustain both the market and the farm.”

In addition to produce, the market plans to offer a selection of prepared foods, soups, salads and a coffee bar with a seating area.

“I decided Lawrenceville was not only going to be my home, but my future,” Kane says. “I really wanted to be a part of the neighborhood fabric.”

Kane and Walmsley plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon to help cover some of the costs of opening the market. For updates and information on how to get involved, visit the Facebook page.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Dora Walmsley, Deirdre Kane
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