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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Project Pop Up tenants ink long-term leases

Last week, two Project Pop Up: Downtown retailers signed long-term leases, shedding their temporary statuses and becoming permanent neighborhood fixtures.

Dream Cream Ice Cream, located at 539 Liberty Avenue, and Boutique 208, located at 208 6th Street, each signed multi-year leases with Stabile and Associates.

Additionally, Awesome Books, which also started as a Pop Up installation at 929 Liberty Avenue, has been sold and renamed Amazing Books.

Together, they mark the first instances of temporary Pop Up ventures leading directly to sustainable local businesses.

“We are very pleased that this program continues to have an impact on Downtown,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “It’s certainly playing a role in reshaping people’s ideas about Downtown.”

At Dream Cream, volunteers work a certain number of hours in the store in exchange for a portion of its proceeds going toward funding their dreams, which have included paying down debt and visiting family abroad.

Boutique 208 offers hand-crafted jewelry, art, needlecraft and repurposed furniture from more than 60 local artisans.

Since buying Amazing Books, Eric Ackland has doubled the store’s inventory and begun selling books at the Market Square Farmer’s Market every Thursday.

When it launched in November of 2011, Project Pop Up included 11 retail spaces, performance venues and installation art exhibits. Of the original 11, five remain in various forms.

Waldrup says that despite a tight real estate market, adding another round of Pop Up installations is something the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is pursuing.

“It’s definitely something we’re working on,” Waldrup says. “If there’s enough space, we’ll certainly do it.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

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

VIA Pittsburgh venue 6119 seeks new space

6119, the multi-purpose event space which serves as the hub for the VIA media collective and hosts the annual VIA Music & New Media Festival will leave its current space at the end of June and is searching for new space.

Despite spending just a year in the space at 6119 Penn Avenue, VIA has hosted more than 200 artists across a plethora of mediums and gained international renown for combining concepts of art galleries, clubs, music venues and technology studios into a single space.

VIA, which launched with the aid of a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund in 2010, is already searching for a new home, but doesn't want to go far, according to Co-Director Lauren Goshinski.

“Ideally, we’d like to be in the East End, Lawrenceville, Garfield or East Liberty,” Goshinski says.

That could be a tall order. VIA will require at least 7,000 square feet of space and help from investors if it is to relocate.

“To do it properly,” Goshinski says, “we need to go bigger.”

VIA is asking its supporters it to take a six-question survey and sign a petition stating their support for VIA’s mission.

“We’d love to get as many people as possible to sign,” Goshinski says. “At the end of the day, it’s not about 6119. It’s about asking people if they want this kind of venue.”

The final three events at 6119 will go on as planned, culminating with a closing party on June 28. VIA still intends to host its annual festival in October, which it usually does at an alternative space.

“What we’ve done at 6119 has brought a lot of great attention to Pittsburgh,” Goshinski says. “It’s not just a venue and a club. I really think that Pittsburgh could become known for something like that, and we’d like to give that to Pittsburgh.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lauren Goshinski

Program empowers residents to take over vacant properties

There are about 750 vacant properties in Wilkinsburg, and every year, the borough must prioritize which vacant or condemned buildings need to be demolished for safety reasons.

“Since we started tracking vacant properties in 2008, we’ve demolished 88, but had more than 150 added to the list,” says Tracey Evans, executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation.

Now, residents and business owners whose properties are adjacent to vacant or condemned lots can help the community begin to tackle the problem through the Vacant Property Recovery Program. Wilkinsburg is one of 33 communities taking advantage of the Allegheny County-run program.

Through the program, applicants may apply to recover vacant properties which are next to their own. Once the county reviews each application, appraises the property and removes all existing taxes and liens on it, applicants whose plans for the property are approved may purchase the lot at the appraised price and redevelop it as they’ve proposed.

In adding space the vacant spaces to their own properties, those who recover property help the community by assuming the cost of demolishing vacant structures and getting the land back onto tax rolls.

“We’ve been fairly successful in getting folks to use it, and use it in different ways,” Evans says.

Some residents have added side yards to their homes, business owners have expanded their on-site parking and community organizations have planted gardens.

“We’ve also used it for affordable housing projects though the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and ACTION Housing,” Evans says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tracey Evans

Frick Art & Historical Center announces $15 million expansion project

A groundbreaking this Thursday will kick off a three-phase, $15 million expansion project at The Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze.

The family home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter, philanthropist Helen Clay Frick, will add several new buildings while restoring an old one as well.

Phase 1 will involve the construction of a new Orientation Center between the Frick’s café and Car and Carriage Museum. The entirety of the Frick’s facilities will remain open throughout the Orientation Center’s construction.

“We didn’t want to build a pseudo-historic building,” says Frick Director Bill Bodine. “We thought we ought to go with a contemporary style that uses elements found within the site.”

Those elements include slatted wooden roofs, tile floors and Pennsylvania sandstone. The Orientation Center, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, will also house a new museum gift shop.

That will free up the location of the current gift shop in the Frick children’s playhouse — an original structure from 1897 — to be restored as a resource for children during subsequent building phases.

Bodine says the playhouse, which contains a 19th century bowling alley, will eventually be used to engage children with the kinds of games and entertainment that were common during Helen Clay Frick’s childhood.

Phases 2 and 3 will include a new carriage gallery, an education center in the area currently serving as the carriage gallery, a community center and additional collection storage facilities. The Frick has engaged the architechtural teams of Schwartz/Silver and Associates of Boston and Pittsburgh-based Loysen + Kreuthmeier to design the expansions and renovations. 

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Bill Bodine

Eat + Drink: Carnegie Coffee, Casa Reyna, the return of Vincent's Pizza and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nom noms.

-  The Carnegie Coffee Company, a new coffee shop combined with an existing pharmacy in an old post office in Carnegie, will open to the public on June 15, and hold its grand opening on June 22.

Husband-and-wife-team Ashley Comer and Greg Romeo, who own The Medicine Shoppe in Carnegie, will move that business into the old Carnegie post office at 132 East Main Street.

“We really wanted to model our business after a European–style coffeehouse,” Comer says. “We want it to be a destination, and we wanted to give the people in Carnegie their own place.”

The 2,500-square-foot shop, which will be the first in western Pennsylvania to offer Illy Italian coffee, will also serve pastries from local bakeries and food from Sausalido in Bloomfield.

-  Casa Reyna, the product of three years’ effort from Reyna Foods owner Nicola DiCio, held its soft opening last Friday. The 72-seat Strip District restaurant next door to Reyna Foods on Penn Avenue offers authentic Mexican cuisine, focusing on dishes specifically paired with a variety of house-made tortillas. Casa Reyna also offers a vast selection of tequilas and Mexican beers.

-  Vincent’s Pizza Park in North Braddock, which closed in May of 2012 after more than 50 years in business, will reopen on June 16. Toni Zollner, the daughter of restaurant founder Vincent Chianese, has spent the last year updating and renovating the building, which includes the installation of a new neon sign that closely resembles the original.

-  Franktuary’s Lawrenceville location is now serving brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu, which will change weekly, includes locally farmed breakfast sausages served in buns made from waffle batter, a breakfast take on poutine and pancakes made with a gluten-free brownie batter, as well as a selection of breakfast cocktails.

On several Sundays throughout the summer, 15 percent of the restaurant’s sales will go to one of several local community organizations.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ashley Comer

Bayardstown Social Club offers shared space for grilling and get togethers in the Strip District

Do you wish you had a backyard? A space for summer grilling? Maybe just good outdoor party to go to? Not only does the Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District offer all those things, it aims to change the way Pittsburghers socialize.

The brainchild of Pittsburgh innovation firm Deeplocal, the combination shared outdoor space and social club offers members a place to grill, drink and talk in atmosphere that’s open, yet intimate.

The idea grew out of Deeplocal’s weekly office cocktail hour.

“The parks are great, but they’re more about families. They’re not really for socialization,” says Deeplocal’s Nathan Martin. “If you live in the city and you don’t have a yard, you can go there and have a casual social experience and meet people.”

After just a month of planning and work on the 5,000-square-foot vacant lot, Deeplocal employees and volunteers transformed it into a space that’s distinctly young, but with an old-fashioned twist.

The club plans to designate certain hours as “adult swim” — cell-phone free time, which it will enforce with cell phone jamming equipment. Laptops are banned entirely.

Bayardstown will also schedule some of the popular local food trucks to come by and offer members dining options.

"We want to promote some of the local businesses," Martin says. "Franktuary has come down and sold kits for grilling."

Martin says this summer’s club activities will include live acoustic music, shared mix-tape sessions and urban camping.

Membership costs $10 per month and is limited to 250 members. At the end of every month, the club will clear its membership roster and reopen its rolls to the public. Non-members may attend with members for $5 per evening.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Nathan Martin

Eat + Drink: The Livermore, Pitaland and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly round-up of news you can consume with your mouth.

-  The creators of Bar Marco in the Strip District have secured the space at 126 Highland Avenue for The Livermore, a new coffee and cocktail joint. It will fill the space previously occupied by The Waffle Shop, an art space/restaurant/internet reality show which started as a Carnegie Mellon class project and lasted four years before closing in July 2012. Livermore is scheduled to open in late June.

-  Lucy Nguyen’s banh mi cart, a seasonal favorite in the Strip District, is back up and running in the parking lot next to Bar Marco. From spring to late fall, Nguyen, who spends winters in her native Vietnam, makes sandwiches of marinated and grilled chicken or pork topped with all manner of herbs and pickled vegetables.

-  Pitaland in Brookline, a Mediterranean bakery and caterer, recently finished renovations to its space and has added an on-site café. Open Monday through Saturday, the café offers breakfast until 11 a.m. and lunch and dinner options until 7 p.m.

-  The café at Sunny Bridge Natural Foods, a specialty grocery store in McMurray, recently unveiled a new catering menu. The café’s chef, Patty Caputo, designed the menu to include dishes made from local beef, chicken and eggs, as well as vegetarian and vegan items. The menu is augmented by selections from the store’s gluten-free bakery, says Sunny Bridge owner Gina Snyder.

-  For the fifth straight year, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host a farmers’ market. Farmers at Phipps, part of the conservatory’s healthy food and sustainability initiatives, will run every Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and offer customers a wide variety of locally grown organic produce from local farms.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Gina Snyder

WindStax opens new plant in the Strip District

When he started WindStax, a wind turbine manufacturing company, Pittsburgh native Ron Gdovic had a design idea and a two-garage space in Apollo.

As soon as it was time for his company to expand, he knew wanted to move back into the city — particularly into an old building.

The new ones “just don’t have any soul,” he says.

The roughly 4,000 square-foot former aluminum factory at 3220 Smallman Street in the Strip District did the trick. Now, Gdovic and his crew have finished setting up shop and started producing some of the most innovative wind turbines on the market.

“We like to promote craftsmanship,” Gdovic says, adding that his shop uses locally-sourced and environmentally-friendly materials in nearly all aspects of production.

The turbines come in columns of 20 and 40 feet and contain just three moving parts. They are made of okoume plywood and held in place with frames built almost entirely out of locally-produced PVC piping and nylon bolts. The batteries the turbines charge are regulated by electronic systems that are also made locally and powered through small solar panels on the tops of the columns.

What makes Gdovic's turbines special is their durability, extremely light weight, and low cost per watt of power. Because they're relatively inexpensive — some can be had for as little as $7,500 — they’re practical for both commercial and residential use.

“Most can power a house for days without wind,” Gdovic says.

While most of WindStax’s business has come from commercial clients such as energy companies, Gdovic says that his new factory has spurred local interest, and that he is talking to potential local clients about harnessing wind power in the city, especially along the rivers.

Learn more about WindStax at their Open House at the factory on May 31.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ron Gdovic

Aspinwall Riverfront Park gets new design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston

City of Asylum wins $300,000 ArtPlace grant for a garden to garden project on the North Side

ArtPlace America awarded City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P) a $300,000 grant yesterday for the group's plans to build the Pittsburgh Central Northside Artway Connector.

Chosen among 54 national grants from 1,200 entrants as an exemplary plan of creative place making, the garden-to-garden Artway will connect two new COA/P projects — the Alphabet Reading Garden on Monterey Street and the Alphabet City literary center in the Garden Theater complex on North Avenue, which POP City profiled in January.

The Artway will feature a series of both temporary and permanent literary-themed installation art works.

“It’s coming from a very interesting and important coalition of funders,” says COA/P Communications Manager Elizabeth Baisley. “It’s an enormous privilege and pleasure to be receiving a grant from ArtPlace America, and we’re very excited about what it makes possible for us.”

ArtPlace America is a collaborative effort between 13 national foundations, six of the country’s biggest banks, the Domestic Policy Council and the White House Office of Management and Budget. It seeks to help facilitate the introduction of art into communities for the development of creative spaces.

The organization has awarded more than $42 million in 134 grants to 124 projects in 79 communities. Its grant to COA/P marks the first time a Pittsburgh project has received an ArtPlace America grant.

Among its many activities, COA/P renovates dilapidated houses to serve as both public works of art and residences for writers from other countries living in exile.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Elizabeth Baisley

Eberle Studios finds a new home in Homestead

When eminent domain claimed Ed Eberle’s ceramics studio as part of the Route 28 expansion in 2010, Eberle and his wife were determined not to open a new studio until they found the right space.

Two-and-a-half years later, Eberle Studios is back and almost fully operational at its new location in Homestead.

“We bought this building in September of 2011 and took 18 months to fix it up,” Eberle says. “It’s still not all done but it’s more than functional. I’ve been working here since last fall and my wife’s been working since December.”

The new studio takes up about 12,000 square feet between the two stories of an old Elks Lodge at 229 East 9th Avenue. It includes plenty of workspace on the first floor and a 5,400-square foot gallery on the second. Because the building is nearly fireproof, it’s ideally suited to an artist like Eberle, who works mainly in clay.

“There’s no wood. It’s all metal and brick exterior, and metal on the inside. It’s open. There are no pillars,” Eberle says.

While the studio isn’t officially open yet, Eberle says he expects to host a grand opening once all renovations are complete. In the meantime, he says that anyone is welcome to visit, and may do so by calling him at 412-401-3851 to schedule an appointment.

“We’ve had people in pretty much every week,” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ed Eberle

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

New report shows growth in Downtown Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership released its State of Downtown Pittsburgh 2013 report Monday and the results should come as no surprise: Downtown is growing.

The report boasts that in the last year, Downtown has seen increases in leased office space, transportation usage and, most notably, the residential market.  

“This confirms what we’ve been talking about for a couple years now,” says Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “It’s the same growth in Downtown Pittsburgh from all perspectives.”

Downtown has added 632 rental residential units since 2010, and by the end of 2012, 96 percent of all Downtown rental units were occupied. Nearly 2,400 units are in development, about 400 of which are currently under construction, per the report.

“We’re becoming more of a residential community,” Waldrup says. “That, to us, is really exciting and something we want to see more of.”

The 2000 U.S. Census showed there were fewer than 6,500 residents in the Greater Downtown area. In 2010, there were nearly 7,800. The report estimates that since 2010, Greater Downtown has added roughly 900 new residents.

Downtown and the Central Business District are home to more than 126,000 jobs and nearly half of Greater Pittsburgh’s market for office space.

Transit use has increased, too. The T has seen an 18 percent spike in use since the North Shore connector opened, and bus ridership rose 3 percent after three straight years of decline.

“It’s essential not just for our continued growth but to our continued existence,” says Waldrup. “We need to invest in what we currently have, but also look toward the future.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup
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