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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

GoBurgh hosts Pittsburgh's first-ever Transit Day

GoBurgh, a coalition of organizations with a shared mission to promote vibrant and sustainably funded transportation infrastructure in Pittsburgh, hosted the city’s first-ever Transit Day last Thursday.

“Transit is big here,” says Chris Sandvig of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, which manages GoBurgh.
“Transit Day’s point is to call attention to the fact that there are a lot of people who rely on the system. We don’t generate tax revenue without transit, and it’s costing us employers.”

Transit Day arose out of PCRG’s efforts toward advocacy fundraising. The proposed 35 percent transit service cuts that were narrowly averted last year thanks to state assistance would have cost more than $300 million to Allegheny County taxpayers.

“We’re starting a conversation locally about what sort of transit system we want,” Sandvig says. “We’ve had no vision of a transit system of the future since Skybus. We have all these great ideas about light rail and commuter rail, but what comes first? That’s the conversation we need to have.”

The Transit Day celebration, which took place in Market Square, offered attendees free Eat’n Park smiley cookies and entertainment from comedian Gab Bonesso and Meeting of Important People’s Josh Verbanets.  

Additionally, commuters who used the Carnegie, Wilkinsburg and Showcase Cinema Park and Ride installations were treated to free coffee and Transit YES! buttons.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Sandvig

City debuts first green bike lane in Bloomfield

Last week, Pittsburgh joined the growing number of cities with green lanes — dedicated bike lanes separate from the rest of the street and easily identifiable by color.

A 200-foot stretch of road on Liberty Avenue near the Bloomfield Bridge is the first color-coded, dedicated bike lane the city has installed since painting blue lanes on the Birmingham Bridge in 2007.

The project was made possible with a $23,000 grant from Bikes Belong, a national cycling advocacy organization of retailers and suppliers. Pittsburgh became eligible to apply for the grant after sending a delegation which included city and county officials to a conference in Minneapolis.

“Minneapolis wanted to have us learn more from them,” says Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker. “Against all odds, we have a great bike community here.”

Color-coded bike lanes in areas which see high car and bike traffic help make drivers, cyclists and pedestrians more aware of the spaces they occupy, and reduce the chance of conflict in areas that might otherwise be confusing to motorists — such as where Liberty Avenue turns from two lanes to four near Main Street and the Bloomfield Bridge.

The lane coloration isn’t standard road striping paint, but a mixture of thermoplastic and epoxy, designed to be slip-resistant and last between three and five years — significantly longer than standard road paint.
Bricker says he hopes the city will soon adopt color uniformity for more bike lanes so that there is even less confusion.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Bricker

Gateway at Summerset accepting applications

The Gateway at Summerset, a new rental community overlooking Homestead and the Monongahela River from the southern end of Squirrel Hill, already has residents living in its first completed building, and more scheduled to move into its second building later this month.

Co-developed by Ralph A. Falbo, Inc. and Pennrose, The Gateway, which is located inside the Summerset at Frick Park development, has already pre-leased many apartments in as-yet-unfinished buildings. The six-building rental complex is “pretty full through mid-July, though we do still have some available in the first building,” says Pennrose’s Stephanie Fuchs.

Though its initial target demographic was young professionals, Fuchs says that the community's close proximity to the rest of the East End, South Side and Waterfront, as well as a host of on-site amenities, has drawn a wide array of tenants.

“We have some people who are downsizing and looking toward retirement, and we have a handful of people who are relocating for residency opportunities,” Fuchs says. “It’s so close to the city, but when you pull in, it has that traditional neighborhood feel.”

In addition to one-bedroom units, the community has two different styles of two-bedroom units, each of which are customizable and contain multiple amenities, including private laundry facilities in each unit.

The community also offers a plethora of shared spaces, including a community center, pool, fitness center, basketball court and playground.

To learn more about The Gateway at Summerset, visit its website or call 412-422-1144

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Stephanie Fuchs

Indigo Square inks tenants, seeks more local businesses

The commercial space in East Liberty’s Broad Street business district continues to grow. The area, known as Indigo Square after the hotel soon to occupy it, will include a holistic medicine center, an oil and vinegar retailer, a kitchen and bath design showroom and a pair of independent fashion boutiques. 

Peace, Love & Zen Wellness Center will occupy a space at 6023 Broad Street that was formerly a bakery. Among its services, the center will offer acupuncture, a Himalayan salt cave and an Aquascape Zen bed.

Olive & Marlowe, which currently deals in specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegars out of a space in the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Public Market, will also move to the new East End district in a space at 215 North Highland Avenue.

Luxe Home & Design, also on North Highland, is a new venture from Splash owners John Nicklas and Brent Hugas, who already have showrooms in Cranberry and Murrysville.  

One of the independent fashion boutiques is owned by Kiya Tomlin, wife of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

The businesses will consume about 8,500 square feet of commercial property out of the four-block, Wedgwood Group-owned space.

Michelle Stewart of leasing agent Colliers International says that they hope to fill out the remaining space with as many local businesses as possible. She says Colliers is looking to attract a coffee shop and a microbrewery, and is also looking into yoga studios, florists and high-end furniture dealers.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Michelle Stewart

Eat + Drink: Outdoor dining spots and more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gita McCutcheon, Leigh White

New grocery store Downtown? One developer has a plan

Residents of Downtown Pittsburgh haven’t had a grocery store since Seventh Avenue’s Rosebud Fine Food Market and Deli closed in 2010. If all goes according to developer Ralph Falbo’s plan, that could soon change.

Falbo is in talks with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation about opening a grocery in the Thompson Building at 435 Market Street in Market Square.

“One of the things that’s missing in Market Square is a place to buy groceries,” Falbo says.

The tentative plan, a joint-venture with the owners of Vallozzi’s restaurant, would offer high-end produce, fresh bread, fine meats, cheeses and wines, among other basic grocery items. His plan also includes a bar, a multi-purpose area that could be used for events such as wine tastings, and a basement kitchen for cooking prepared foods.

The grocery would occupy about 4,600 square feet of real estate, and Falbo says he hopes to draw a women’s fashion boutique into one of the building’s upper floors.

Earlier this month, the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation filed an application with Allegheny County for a $250,000 Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant in support of opening a Downtown grocery store.

Falbo initially pursued the establishment of a Downtown grocery in 2005, when he sought to bring an upscale market into the former G.C. Murphy’s building, also near Market Square.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ralph Falbo

Zip line course opens in North Park

Those with the urge to strap themselves into harnesses and fly between trees hundreds of feet above ground may now satisfy that urge in North Park.

On Saturday, Go Ape Treetop Adventures held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its latest outdoor adventure course, nestled in the pine forests of Allegheny County’s largest park.

After about 30 minutes of safety training and instruction, participants traverse across the course’s five sections, comprised by a myriad of rope ladders, bridges, swings and cargo nets that link its five zip lines. The lines — which stretch more than 1,400 feet around the canopy — move between platforms. Participants complete the entire course in two to three hours without ever touching the ground.

“There are tons of things to do in North Park, which is very attractive for us,” said Chris Swallow, Go Ape’s business development director. “We knew Pittsburgh was a market that appreciates outdoor activity.”

Admission runs $55 for adults and $35 for children ages 10-17. Children must be at least 10 years old to attempt the course, and participants must weigh less than 285 pounds.

Swallow said that Maryland-based Go Ape, which installs courses exclusively in public parks, expects the course to draw between 12,000 and 15,000 people in its first year. The North Park installment is the company’s fourth in the United States.

For more information or to book reservations, visit the course’s page on Go Ape’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Chris Swallow

Mackey Lofts nearing completion in Uptown

The Mackey Lofts, a new housing complex situated in a former Uptown bakery at 1819 Forbes Avenue, is nearing completion, with tenants expected to move in by June.

The lofts are the latest project from ACTION-Housing, a local organization which designs and builds sustainable, accessible housing for working-class residents and people with physical disabilities.

“What we’re trying to do with the Mackey Lofts is shift how we integrate supportive housing into a community,” says Andrew Schull, ACTION’s communications coordinator. “One of the reasons we were attracted to Uptown is its proximity to Downtown and Oakland.”

The lofts will contain 43 total housing units. Eighteen units are designed with special accessibility features, and 10 of those units will cater specifically to the needs of deaf and deaf-blind residents.

Schull said that ACTION-Housing has been accepting applications for the lofts since January and 20 applicants have already been approved. While the lofts are ACTION’s first installation in Uptown, the organization has bigger plans for the area.

“We just received an allocation of tax credits for two properties up the road on Fifth [Avenue],” he says.

The two buildings, which will contain 23 and 24 units, respectively, will house residents of the MyPlace program, which helps house young people who are transitioning out of foster care.

Those  interested in the Mackey Lofts should contact Carol Kelly of Supportive Housing Management Services at 1-800-238-7555.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Andrew Schull
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