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Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour now bigger and better and ending in a party

For the second straight year, Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) will host a BikeFest event highlighting neighborhood efforts to make Pittsburgh greener.

The Lots of Green Bike + Bus Tour, which will take place on August 10th, offer participants bike tours of seven and 32 miles, as well as the option of a 90-minute bus tour for those less inclined to ride.

To expand upon last year’s bike tour of new and innovative community green space, GTECH has partnered with Grow Pittsburgh to make the event even bigger.

“Most of the projects that will be highlighted are former vacant lots — spaces that have been transformed into community green spaces,” says GTECH’s Sara Innamorato.

The tours will begin at 9 a.m., and leave from GTECH’s offices at 6587 Hamilton Avenue.

“If you look at the route, a lot of the gardens are in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy,” Innamorato says. “There are these green efforts happening in the community and there are people who really care about them and want to make them better.”

The tours include stops at community gardens and parks in city neighborhoods such as Garfield, Greenfield, the South Side, East Liberty, Homewood and Larimer, and areas just outside the city, including Braddock, Wilkinsburg, Homestead and Millvale.

When the tours conclude, participants will meet back up at GTECH’s offices for a party, featuring food from local vendors such as Marty’s Market, My Goodies Bakery and Rob’s Awesome Italian Ice, drinks from Commonplace Coffee, and beer donated by East End Brewing Company.

The Tech Shop will be on hand with a bike-themed demo, and Carnegie Library of Braddock’s Print Shop will be doing custom screen printing.

Tickets for Lots of Green are $10 and may be purchased through Showclix. For more on 2013 BikeFest, visit its website and check out Pop City’s expanded coverage.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sara Innamorato

Eat + Drink: Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room gearing up for August opening

Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room set to open in late August
The space that generations of Pittsburghers knew as Tambellini Seventh Street Ristorante will re-open its doors late next month as Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room.

“We completely gutted the space,” says Suzanne Hrach, owner of the new venture. “All substantial construction is complete.

In addition to 30 craft beers on tap, 20-plus wines by the glass, house cocktails and signature snacks, Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room will feature thin-crust, artisan-style pizzas with house-made mozzarella and seasonal toppings.

Proper’s pizza dough, a sourdough-based starter that rests for three days after it’s made, comes from a recipe which Hrach’s boyfriend has worked to refine for more than a year.

Hrach has enlisted Lynette “LBEE” Bushey, formerly of Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina,  as Proper’s executive chef.

The menu is designed to emphasize the quality of the ingredients.

“Less is more,” says Hrach.

Tambellini’s, a Pittsburgh institution for more than 60 years, closed its doors in February.

Roundabout Brewery opens with a bang
Steve Sloan’s Roundabout Brewery on Butler Street in Lawrenceville had a hectic first two weeks in business.

When it initially opened its doors on the afternoon of Friday, July 12, lines to get growlers of beer filled the brewery’s foyer, extended out the door and wrapped around the building.

“That first week was really nuts,” Sloan says.

Sloan said that when he opened, he estimated that he had enough beer brewed to last a few weeks. By the end of last weekend, his supply of HyPA and Ginga Wheat were all but depleted.

Sloan anticipates having both beers available again within the week, but didn’t imagine he’d have any trouble keeping up with demand.

“If we have to go out and get another fermenter, we can do that,” Sloan says. “That’s where the bottleneck in the process is.”

Social plucks Kuhn away from Bar Marco
Mixologist Chris Kuhn has left Bar Marco to become the bar manager for Social at Bakery Square.

Kuhn’s cocktails include new takes on old favorites, such as the Brooklyn Bridge (Manhattan) and new concoctions, such as the Bourbon Blast (bourbon, grapefruit, maple syrup, bitters).

In addition to 16 beers on tap and 28 canned beers, Social will also offer fresh, house-made sangria which Kuhn will rotate weekly.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Suzanne Hrach, Steve Sloan, Chris Kuhn

Schenley Park to get two new water management systems

In an effort to reduce runoff and pollution and restore the ecosystem in Panther Hollow, two new rainwater management systems will be built in portions of Schenley Park.

“These are pilot projects and they’re part of a larger effort to restore the Panther Hollow Watershed,” says Erin Copeland, a restoration ecologist for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

One system will consist of French drains along Bartlett and Beacon Streets in Squirrel Hill, near the park’s perimeter.

The drains are designed to collect surface water and groundwater into special piping which will redistribute the water.

The other system, which will be installed along Schenley Drive through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, involves a process called retentive grading.

Utilizing strategically chosen areas of the golf course, the conservancy will construct 20 to 25 earthen mounds perpendicular to water flow and made of soil mixtures designed to effectively soak in the most water.

Copeland says that together, the two systems will absorb about 1.9 million gallons of water each year, all of which will be redistributed to the Panther Hollow Watershed.

The systems, both of which qualify as pieces of green infrastructure, are part of the conservancy’s larger plan to restore the streams, woodlands and lake in Panther Hollow.

“Right now, the lake drains back to the sewer system,” Coleman says. “We’d like to change that. We want to get that water back out of the lake and create a stream in Junction Hollow.”

The upgrades, which the conservancy has been planning since 2010, will be completed next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Erin Copeland

Lunch patio pops up on Downtown's Strawberry Way

Most Pittsburghers know Strawberry Way as a Downtown alley used for deliveries, and as a popular shortcut for lunchtime pedestrians.

But for the next month, the block of Strawberry Way between Smithfield Street and Montour Way will be sectioned off and turned into a patio during lunch on weekdays.

“Our idea was to provide downtown office workers and residents with more access to public seating,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “You can go to the Steel Tower on a nice day and the place is completely jam-packed with people eating their lunches. We’re going to try this out for 30 days and see how it goes.”

The patio, which debuted on Monday, will be set up and open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Waldrup says that it will seat between 50 and 60 people, and that its location — safely in the shade during those hours — makes it an ideal getaway for Downtown workers.

“We hope it will stick around for the rest of the season,” Waldrup says. “It could be something that stays open spring, summer and fall if everyone agrees it’s a good idea.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

Office of Public Art releases new guide with Downtown launch party

You know that one Downtown mural or interesting building you love, but don’t know much about?

The Pittsburgh Office of Public Art does, and its new guide, published last month, Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Downtown, offers a comprehensive look at more than 100 works of public art in Downtown and on the North Side.

The guide will be the subject of a second release party tomorrow evening at the Wood Street Galleries at 601 Wood Street, Downtown, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“All of the living artists who have work represented in the guide are invited, and many are attending,” says Renee Piechocki, director of the Office of Public Art.

The event will include cake, champagne, music from DJ Tara George and a slideshow of the art featured in the guide. There will also be an autograph table where guests can have their copies of the guide signed by all of the artists in attendance.

The event is free and open to the public, though RSVPs are encouraged.

“Pittsburgh has a world-class public art collection,” Piechocki says. “Public art has been an essential component of Pittsburgh's revitalization, and new projects will continue to add value and meaning to our public spaces.”

Copies of the guide will available for free at the party, and are downloadable as a PDF from the office’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Renee Piechocki

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

Pittsburgh Brewing Company names Brian Walsh new CEO

Uni-World Capital, the private equity firm that owns the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and all of the Iron City Brands, has tapped career beverage executive Brian Walsh to run the iconic local operation.

He succeeds interim CEO Rob Matteucci, who had served in the role since May.

“Brian was the ideal candidate,” Scott Porter of Uni-World says. “He has a strong beer-specific background, a strong background in understanding and working in local markets, and he has a lot of experience in the Pittsburgh area specifically.”

Walsh spent the past six years as president and CEO of the Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vt. During Walsh’s tenure at Long Trail, the microbrewery increased its shipment volume by 123 percent and more than doubled its revenue. Walsh also oversaw Long Trail’s acquisition of the Otter Creek Brewing Company and its Wolaver’s Certified Organic brands in 2010.

\Walsh is no stranger to the Pittsburgh beer market. Prior to taking over Otter Creek, he served as a regional vice president with Labatt USA, during which he managed Rolling Rock’s relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh was also part of his territory while working as a regional sales manager for Guinness.

“[Walsh] understands the importance of Iron City to the Pittsburgh community and how to translate that into profitable, sustainable growth,” Porter says. “The Pittsburgh community wants Iron City to succeed. We want this brand to succeed and we want to do it the right way.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Porter

American Mustache Institute relocating to Pittsburgh

Last October, the American Mustache Institute named Pittsburgh’s Adam Causgrove its Mustached American of the year. Last week, the organization announced it will move its headquarters from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, and that Causgrove will be its new CEO.

“We really want to put Pittsburgh on the map as being a mecca for mustached Americans,” Causgrove says. “It’s expected to be the greatest thing to happen in the history of the city. And I don’t believe in hyperbole.”

Causgrove’s journey to the top of mustached America began last year, when he met then-CEO Aaron Perlut at the institute’s annual ‘Stache Bash. Perlut, who had headed the organization since 1989, was looking to scale back his duties, and Causgrove expressed an interest in becoming more involved.

“It just made sense to move it into Pittsburgh,” says Causgrove. “As we expand the group, we’d like to make it a bigger force from a philanthropic standpoint.”

Accordingly, Causgrove’s first priority was to bring the institute under the umbrella of Side Project Inc., a non-profit and philanthropic start-up support organization he runs with his cousin. As of right now, the institute remains based out of Causgrove’s Mount Washington home, but he has big plans to go along with the relocation.

The AMI will hold its annual ‘Stache Bash in Pittsburgh this October. Causgrove says the organization expects to host attendees from all 50 states, and estimates the event’s economic benefit to the city will be about $250,000.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Adam Causgrove

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

Pitt approves $37 million upgrade to engineering school building

The University of Pittsburgh has approved a plan to spend $37 million to complete renovations on Benedum Hall, which houses the university’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“This final phase of Benedum Hall renovations will complete our building’s transformation into a leading-edge engineering education and research facility,” says Gerald Holder, dean of the Swanson Engineering School. 

The renovation will be the third and final phase of Benedum’s makeover, which began as part of Pitt’s 12-year Facilities Plan. It will focus on floors 9 through 12, as well as on the basement and subbasement.

The project will upgrade laboratories and classrooms, as well as support facilities such as conference rooms, lobbies and offices.

“Our undergraduate and graduate student population continues to grow in quality and quantity, and these projects will help us compete for the best engineering students,” Holder says. “In addition, our new and renovated lab spaces are helping us attract the best faculty candidates to Pittsburgh.”

In addition to the work on Benedum Hall, Pitt will upgrade about 900 feet of steam distribution lines between the corners of Terrace and Lothrop streets and DeSoto and O’Hara streets. The upgrade will aide steam flow from the Carrillo Street Steam Plant on Pitt’s upper campus and further ease campus growth in the future.  

The renovations are scheduled to be completed by 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Gerald Holder

ACTION-Housing completes Passive House-certified home in Heidelberg

A single-family home in Heidelberg developed by ACTION-Housing has been certified as Western Pennsylvania’s first “Passive House.”

The energy-efficient home, which was completed in October of 2012, uses 80 percent less energy than a standard single-family home and is only the 45th house in the United States to receive the designation.

“Passive House thinking is pretty simplistic,” says Linda Metropulos, ACTION’s senior housing development officer. “It’s about performance. We were concerned about meeting this very low number to heat and cool the building.”

Built without a furnace or any duct work, the Heidelberg Passive House uses its super-insulated envelope, 18-inch-thick walls and triple-glazed windows designed to maximize the value of passive solar heat gain in the winter, but not in the summer. Because the building is nearly airtight, a ventilation system which operates around the clock continuously brings in fresh air which can be heated and cooled.

It was designed by Thoughtful Balance Architects and built by TBI Contractors.

“What we were able to do was spend a lot of money on the envelope and no money on mechanical equipment,” says Metropulos. “ACTION-Housing has understood for a long time the connection between affordability and energy costs. It’s something we’ve been working on for years and this felt like an extension on those efforts.”

Metropulos says that ACTION has plans for three more passive buildings in the area, including facilities in McKeesport, Hazelwood and Uptown.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Linda Metropulos

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: Roundabout Brewery, Social at Bakery Square and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly exploration of new offerings in local gastronomy.

A new brewery in Lawrenceville
Roundabout Brewery, Pittsburgh’s newest creator of small-batch craft beers, will open its doors for the first time on Friday.

The brainchild of Steve and Dyana Sloan, Roundabout occupies the space at 4901 Butler Street in Lawrenceville, formerly a welding studio and tire store.

Steve, who holds a master’s degree in chemistry and has worked at more than a dozen breweries in the United States and Germany, was most recently the brewery manager at the Church Brew Works in Bloomfield.

His initial offerings will include Black Possum (a dark steam beer), Hy-PA (an IPA-pale hybrid session ale), Ferdl Weiss (a traditional German-style wheat beer), Ginga Wheat (an American-style wheat beer flavored with ginger, lemon and local honey) and The Commoner (a mild ale made from New Zealand hops, German malt and American yeast).

Sloan said that at first, Roundabout will only offer growlers of its craft beers, but that he soon hopes to expand the space to include a tasting area with seating.

Though the Sloans have been working entirely by themselves the last five months to finish the space, Steve said that he’s had a lot of help from other local craft breweries, such as the East End Brewery and the Arsenal Cider House, which have loaned him equipment.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Sloan says.

Roundabout will hold its soft opening Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Social brings gourmet pizza and beer to Bakery Square
Bakery Square will get its first sit-down restaurant and bar when Social, a new venture from Walnut Capital, opens Monday.

Social will offer a wide array of salads, appetizers and sandwiches, and will specialize in a variety of gourmet pizzas.

“We’re taking bar food to the next level,” says Edana Muldoon, Social’s general manager. “We’re trying to make it as much of a scratch kitchen as possible.”

Social’s bar will feature 32 taps and a selection of 28 more beers, and Muldoon says she hopes the restaurant can be a both a lunch and happy hour destination for employees and patrons in Bakery Square.

“There are about 1,000 employees here,” Muldoon says. “We went to offer them another alternative, and we want to offer them some alcohol."

In addition to its indoor space, Social will have an outdoor seating capacity of about 50 people.

Paris 66 to hold Bastille Day celebrations
East Liberty French bistro Paris 66 will celebrate Bastille Day with 12 full hours of food and festivities on Sunday.

In addition to its normal Sunday brunch service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a prix fixe dinner menu from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., the bistro will host an outdoor, all-you-can-eat buffet featuring mussels, frites and crepes from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

From 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., the outdoor area will be converted into a 1920s-style Parisian soiree, complete with music and dancing.

In addition to commemorating the 224th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the celebration will be the debut event for new Paris 66 chef Franck Lacaille.

While the outdoor activities will be open seating, reservations are recommended for both brunch and dinner.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Steve Sloan, Edana Muldoon

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

California Markets help inject new life and businesses into Brighton Heights

Brighton Heights resident Stephanie Stauffer says she loves the bevy of creative retail spaces and restaurants which has sprung up in the East End the last few years, but doesn’t see why her home turf should be any different.

That’s why Stauffer, who was one of the founders of the Downtown pop up Burgheoisie Boutique, launched the California Markets, a series of open-air market events in Brighton Heights’ California Avenue business corridor.

Backed by the Brighton Heights Citizens’ Association and a grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the markets — which occur on the second Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — started in June and will run through September. They feature local food, crafts vendors and all manner of community engagement activities.

Next month’s event, which will take place on July 13, will feature a barbecue and brew off, allowing participants to pit their grilling skills or homemade beer against those of their neighbors with winners determined via public vote. The Style Truck will also make an appearance.

Stauffer says that not only are the markets exposing the North Side to a taste of the pop up culture that’s become so prevalent in the East End and Downtown, but they’re also helping to reestablish the Brighton Heights business district.
The California Avenue corridor’s storefronts, Stauffer says, were about 50 percent vacant until a few months ago. Now, she says, they have close to 80 percent occupancy.

“It’s not a coincidence that businesses are moving in with what we’re doing here,” Stauffer says. “It’s a chance for startup businesses to show what they have going on.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephanie Stauffer
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