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Eat + Drink: Dishcrawl Pittsburgh, Summer Winter Warmer and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly guide to local epic nommz.

Dishcrawl takes off
Dishcrawl, the neighborhood restaurant tour which takes diners to four different neighborhood restaurants in one evening, will hold its first event of 2014 on February 19th.

There are just two catches:
1)      Diners won’t know the restaurants until 48 hours before the event.
2)      February’s incarnation is already sold out.

Dishcrawl, which takes place in about 100 cities across the United States and Canada, first game to Pittsburgh last year with stops in Lawrenceville and Shadyside. But new director Colleen Coll has her sights set on giving the event a more distinctly local flavor than it’s had in the past.

“Sometimes people don’t know a certain neighborhood, then they get to go to four restaurants in one night. It’s great to get to that experience all at once,” Coll says.

February’s edition will take participants to four different restaurants in Downtown Pittsburgh. And because it’s already sold out, Coll has started planning March’s excursion. Her destination? The Strip District.

“One of the things we like to focus on is having an area with at least 20 restaurants,” she says. “Between Downtown and the Strip, those neighborhoods are perfect. One event’s not enough for Downtown. I was surprised they weren’t picked in the first place.”

For updates, follow Dishcrawl Pittsburgh on Facebook and Twitter.

Summer Winter Warmer back on tap at Roundabout
Consider this a public service announcement: Summer Winter Warmer is back on tap at Roundabout Brewery. This brew, which starts out smelling like a floral West Coast IPA and seamlessly transitions into a rich, full-bodied English-style warmer full of roasted malts, is a delightful little journey of flavor. It’s like seeing the sun for the first time in six weeks.

Markets need friends too
The Pittsburgh Public Market would like to be your friend, and it doesn’t mean on Facebook.

Fresh off its move into the new space at 2401 Penn Avenue in the Strip, the Public Market is debuting its “Friends of the Market” program. In exchange for pledging your charitable support at one of the four levels between $25 and $250, the market is doling out perks ranging from stickers and tote bags to free use of its meeting space.

One way to join is by attending the market’s first annual tasting event this Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include samples from the markets various vendors. The price of the ticket covers your first year-long membership in the program and gets your name on the wall under the list of founding members.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Colleen Coll

Downtown's Night Market returns for a 7th edition

You might remember the last time the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership held a Night Market — it took place on a bridge and happened to coincide with the arrival of a particularly beloved specimen of water fowl.

Granted, Night Market VII won’t clog the Clemente Bridge, nor will it occur simultaneously with the arrival of the bird that spurred a million Facebook photos. But it will be warm, intimate and tailored to the season when it runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 131 7th Street this Friday.

“Were going to have about 20 different vendors in the space,” says the PDP’s Leigh White. “We’ve kind of curated it to include some people’s favorite vendors. It feels like each night market takes on its own special vibe.”

This incarnation of Nigh Market will be a stop on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s first gallery crawl of 2014. Accordingly, the Toonseum is decorating the building’s front windows with comic-themed art.

In addition to vendors offering art, jewelry, crafts, food (Burgh Bites will be on hand with Cuban sandwiches) and warm drinks (including teas from Healcrest Urban Farms and coffee from Zeke's), the market will include music from local singer-songwriter Tori Plack. Oh, and there’ll be soup.

“Last year, we did it in the same space, and that’s one ofd the things we like about the night market — we can adapt it to the seasons,” White says.

For a complete list of vendors, see the event’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Eat + Drink: Bluebird Kitchen expands, Kevin Sousa celebrates, winter restaurant week details

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Bluebird Kitchen opens second Downtown location
Bluebird Kitchen, the popular Downtown breakfast and lunch spot, opened a second location Monday on the lower level of the First Niagra Building at 11 Stanwix Street.

Like the original, the new installation will offer made-to-order breakfast, salads, sandwiches and pastries. The new Bluebird will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the rest of this week, with breakfast service scheduled to debut next week.

Liz Moore opened the first Bluebird Kitchen at 221 Forbes Avenue, just outside of Market Square, in the spring of 2012.

Crowdfunding pays off for Superior Motors
Kevin Sousa’s crowdfunding campaign for a new farm-to-table restaurant in Braddock reached its goal and then some on Monday.

The Kickstarter campaign for Superior Motors, which sought to raise $250,000 in 33 days, wound up crossing that threshold some 18 hours before time ran out. By the time the clock hit all zeros, Sousa had raised $310,225 from 2,026 different backers, most of whom gave pleged $100 or less.

At the end of last week, the campaign was in serious danger of not hitting its goal. Sousa says that over the weekend, he and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman were staring down the possibility of what to do if they hadn’t met their goal.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” Sousa says.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Winter 2014
The winter edition of 2014 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week starts next Monday and runs through the following Sunday. More than 75 local restaurants will participate, offering everything from specials for $20.14 to prix-fixe menus and other specials.

The kickoff and preview party will take place tomorrow at Bill Chisnell Productions, located at 1111 Penn Avenue in Downtown. Tickets, which may be purchased through ShowClix, are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Sousa

Eat + Drink: Ten Penny and Gus's open, Bella Christie branches out

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local epic nommz.

Ten Penny to open this weekend
Ten Penny, the latest and most dining-focused restaurant and bar from AMPd Group — which earlier this year opened Skybar on the South Side — will open at the corner of Tenth Street and Penn Avenue in Downtown this weekend, according to AMPd Managing Partner Adam DeSimone.

Executive Chef Scott DeLuca, formerly of BOhem Bistro in Seven Fields and the South Side’s Truth Lounge, has designed a menu which explores new takes on classic American comfort food. The restaurant will sport 24 taps of craft beer to go with an extensive wine and cocktail menu.

Gus’s open in Lawrenceville
Gus’s Cafe, the long-awaited Lawrenceville venture from George Haritos, held its soft opening last week and is now operating full-time from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the kitchen closing at 11 p.m.
In addition to a generous beer selection, the café offers wine, cocktails and a variety of gluten-free dining options, including french fries, crepes and doughnuts.

Located at 4717 Butler Street, Gus’s takes its name from Konstantinos “Gus” Haritos, who opened Shadyside’s Harris Grill back in 1951. George Haritos, who sold Harris in 2003, also plans to open another restaurant at 5416 Butler.

Bella Christie coming to Lawrenceville
Bella Christie & Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique, the dessert-centric bakery known for making extravagant cakes for every occasion you could think of (and even a few you probably wouldn't), will open a new spot in February. The Aspinwall-based bakery will take over the former Dozen Bake Shop space at 3511 Butler Street.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Adam DeSimone

Giant Eagle looks to open grocery store Downtown

On the heels of developer Ralph Falbo’s plan to open a boutique food market and wine bar in Market Square, Giant Eagle is exploring the notion of opening a full-service grocery somewhere in Downtown Pittsburgh.

While Giant Eagle hasn’t yet chosen a site for a Downtown location, there are several it is considering.

“We have been collaborating with Giant Eagle on a feasibility study to see if Downtown is a location that would be suitable for them, and the indicators are positive,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “They’re looking at a number of sites but haven’t settled on anything.”

Downtown Pittsburgh hasn’t had a full-service grocery store since Rosebud Fine Food Market and Deli, which was located at the corner of Seventh Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, closed in 2010 after just two years of operation. Prior to Rosebud, Downtown’s last grocery store was The Market on Market Square, which occupied the former G.C. Murphy building on Forbes Avenue and closed its doors in 1994.

Demand for a grocery store in Downtown Pittsburgh has steadily grown over the last several years as the area’s residential population has increased. According to a report the PDP released earlier this year, about 8,000 people live in the Greater Downtown area. The same report stated that in answering an open-ended question about retail needed in Downtown, 33 percent of residents identified a grocery store as their top priority.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Award-winning Holiday Market returns, bigger and better

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market, which earlier this year won a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association, is back up and running in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

“Last year, we had 12 to 15 vendors. This year, we have more than 25,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We have six vendors who came in from overseas and from across the country.”

This year’s market boasts vendors selling holiday goods from Eastern European cultures familiar to Pittsburgh, all the way to special items from Ireland and Nepal. There’s a large tent offering traditional, handmade German decorations, a selection of trees and wreaths of various sizes and plenty to eat.

White added that in addition to adding some more international flavor to this year’s edition — which has turned Market Square into a miniature holiday village — the market has added some Pittsburgh-specific retailers to its repertoire.

Drew and Jeannine Hine’s South Side-based Vessel Studio Glass had a booth part-time at last year’s market, but is back again this year, occupying a full-time space, where they’re offering everything from intricately designed cheese knives to hand-blown tree ornaments —including a mock-up of the much-beloved rubber duck which spent three weeks in Pittsburgh waters earlier this year.

“We’re making more every night just to keep up with demand,” Jeannine Hine says.

White says the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is expecting more than 250,000 visitors to the holiday market, and that it anticipates a very positive effect on the Downtown economy. Last year, for every $100 consumers spent in the market, they spent an additional $500 in Downtown’s other businesses and restaurants.

“One of the biggest reasons we do this is that we want people to come Downtown and shop here, but also shop at the other stores and restaurants, and we’re really seeing the effects of that,” White says.

For a complete list of the market's vendors and operating hours, visit its website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Eat + Drink: A heavy dose of holiday spirits and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly look at epic local nomz.

Larkin leads the way on Allegheny River Libation Trail
It seems that craft breweries, distilleries and wineries just recently started popping up in Pittsburgh.

Well don’t look now, but there are 15 such independent producers along the Allegheny River corridor alone. That’s why Bill Larkin, who with his wife, Michelle, owns and operates Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville, is leading the charge in establishing the Allegheny River Libation Trail.

“I pulled everybody together from a certain geographical area and we just had a meeting,” Larkin said. “I think it’s remarkable that there are so many producers in such a small area. I think it’s something that should be exploited.”

The coalition’s first order of business will be to produce a brochure, highlighting all of its members and their proximity to one another. Larkin says that since a lot of the producers already support each other— many order their ingredients together in bulk to save on shipping costs — so this kind of cross-promotion makes sense.

Of the 15 breweries, distilleries and wineries in the neighborhoods along both sides of the Allegheny — from Millvale and Lawrenceville, all the way up through the Strip District and the North Side — 13 intend to participate in what Larkin views as a loose confederation of businesses.

“I don’t think anybody wants to make this an official organization,” he says. “We’re all pretty busy, and I don’t think anyone wants that kind of commitment.”
 
Stay Tuned Distillery opens in Munhall
One distillery you won’t find on the libation trail, simply by virtue of its location, is the Stay Tuned Distillery, which opened earlier this month.

Located at 810 Ravine Street in Munhall, Stay Tuned specializes in finishing whisky and gin made from spirits distilled at the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. The local operation houses their rectification facilities, a retail shop and a tasting bar.

“We finish their rye and their single malt, and we make our own gin,” says co-owner LeeAnn Sommerfeld.

Though not yet available for sale, Stay Tuned’s PathoGin is made from a barley base and contains more citrus and floral flavors than most mass-market gins. Its rye and single malt whiskys will both be ready in time for the holiday shopping season.

Music at Marty's Market
The folks at Marty's Market are forever finding new ways to make use of their outstanding space. This Friday will mark the first installment of the Music at Marty's series, which will feature local Latin musician Geña. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include music, freshly prepared Latin cuisine and a Q&A with the musician. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased on the market's website.
 
Cocktail viewing party
Hey Bartender,” Douglas Tirola’s documentary examining New York City’s craft cocktail culture through the eyes of two skilled mixologists, will screen tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Downtown’s Harris Theater as a part of the Three Rivers Film Festival.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Bill Larkin, LeeAnn Sommerfeld

Eat + Drink: A new Downtown spot from Spoon, bottles of rum and much more

Spoon chefs preview dishes for new Downtown restaurant
Grit & Grace, the new Downtown venture from Spoon Executive Chef Brian Pekarcik and Chef de Cuisine Curtis Gamble, previewed several new dishes during No Menu Monday this week at Bar Marco. We sampled the pickled dates with apple, pear and manchego cheese, the dim sum trio comprised of Hamachi sashimi, Ahi tuna crab rolls and soba noodles with shitake mushrooms and orange-chili vinaigrette, and a salmon entrée served with crispy pretzel bread pudding, braised cabbage and pickled mustard seeds.

The pork larb and curried goat also went over extremely well. Grit & Grace, which will occupy the space at 535 Liberty Avenue formerly held by Taste of Dahntahn, plans to open next month.

The perfect gift for your favorite rum drinker
As we hinted at in an item last week, Maggie’s Farm Rum, Pittsburgh’s newest hand-crafted spirit, will be available to the public for bottle sales only the day after Thanksgiving. Made from Turbinado sugar cane, the French West Indies-style white rum will retail for $28 per bottle.

After Black Friday, Maggie’s Farm will go back to dealing exclusively with local bars and restaurants until owner Tim Russell finishes construction on the distillery’s tasting area and cocktail bar.

Oysters all over
Oysters are all the rage right now and there’s no shortage of places to get them:

Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle
in the Strip District will host the 10th annual Guinness Oyster Festival on Saturday starting at noon. In addition to fresh oysters on the half-shell, the menu will feature fried oysters and oyster stew.

Salt of the Earth
, Kevin Sousa’s flagship eatery in Garfield, has been serving different varieties of oysters on the half-shell as a part of its Tuesday late-night menu since May. The best part? They’re only a dollar apiece.

Recently opened in East Liberty, Bar Marco offshoot The Livermore is now offering an oyster happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Like Salt’s, they’re only a dollar each.

Yiddish food? Where else?!
Nu, the modern Jewish bistro from the owners of Pamela’s, is now open for lunch and dinner service at 1711 Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. We stopped by for lunch last week and found an absolute revelation in the smoked brisket chili, served with sour cream, shredded cheese and pickled red onions.

The Jewbano — a sandwich featuring thick-cut corned beef, brisket and fried pickles among other things, was delicious, as was our half of the salmon burger topped with lox and capers.

The matzo ball soup was a little on the salty side, but be warned: Nu has taken a side in the light and fluffy versus heavy and dense knaidlach debate, entrenching itself firmly on the side of matzo balls which will sink right to the bottom.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tim Russell

Eat + Drink: Blowfish BBQ, Butcher and the Rye and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of epic local nomz.

Finely. Smoked. Meats. 
Just because the Steelers are terrible doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a great game-day experience, food and all. And when it comes to Sunday barbecue, few do it better than Justin Blakey.

Blakey, who’s in charge of all things beer at D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Regent Square and is better known to Pittsburgh beer drinkers as “Hootie,” played off his longtime nickname in creating his new venture, Blowfish BBQ. Every Sunday, Blakey sets up shop at D’s around 1 p.m., selling pork ribs, chicken and beef brisket, along with a host of savory sides such as smoked mac-and-cheese, red potatoes and a vinegar-dressed slaw.

“This is the perfect outlet to start it out,” says Blakey, adding that  while he's fine working out of the D's kitchen for the time being, he's looking to expand and perhaps open up a commercial space offering restaurant and catering services.

Blowfish BBQ’s meats aren’t grilled, but slow-smoked, requiring Blakey to carefully maintain a steady fire at a specific temperature over several hours. Pork and poultry spend the preceding days in various rubs and brines. The brisket takes a different path.

“I really don’t believe beef needs any special treatment — just salt and pepper, and let the smoke do the work,” he says.

In addition to a Texas-style brisket, Carolina-style ribs and his own special recipe for chicken, Blakey is still developing various sauces to complement his offerings. He’s most adamant about perpetuating vinegar-based sauces.

“It accents the meat more than it covers it up. I think with true barbecue, that’s what you’re really looking to do,” he says.

And while you're in the neighborhood…
Unlike Christmas-themed ads or Halloween parties seeping between weekends, one seasonal pleasure limited to November is D’s Franksgiving dog — a turkey hot dog on a steamed, poppy seed bun, topped with mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing and gravy, served with a side of cranberry sauce.

Trust us on this one.

Butcher and the Rye now open Downtown
After a few small events and a soft opening, Butcher and the Rye, the long-awaited second venture from the team responsible for Meat & Potatoes, opened for business last week.

Located at 212 Sixth Street in the Cultural District, Butcher offers creative small plates and open seating to go with their veritable archive of more than 350 kinds of bourbon. Yes, really. There’s even a ladder, reminiscent of those you’ll find in high-ceilinged library stacks, and giving new meaning to the term, “top shelf.”

Whether you stop in to try one of Chef Richard DeShantz’s new offerings or just to have a drink, the view alone warrants a visit, and the big leather chairs near the second-floor bar are especially comfy.

A new Downtown eatery from the creators of Skybar
Ten Penny, an upscale-casual restaurant with a diverse menu, will open later this month at 960 Penn Avenue in Downtown. The latest from Adam DeSimone’s AMPD Group, Ten Penny will offer dinner seven days a week, lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on weekends and special happy hour and late-night menus.

In addition to a large bar with 24 craft beers on tap, the space will offer a variety of seating options including a private dining room which will seat up to 20 people and café-style outdoor dining starting next spring.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey

Eat + Drink: Constellation Coffee, Reverse Keg Ride, farmer markets wind down

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nomz.

Constellation Coffee arrives at Penn & Main
Amy Weiland worked as a barista at Tazza D’Oro in Highland Park for more than three years, all the while wanting to open her own shop. When she walked by the vacant space at 4059 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, she knew she’d found something special.

Serving coffee from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Weiland opened Constellation Coffee last week.

“I wanted to go with something from the east coast,” Weiland said of her roaster choice. “Whenever I was doing samplings from different roasters, Ceremony just blew every other roaster out of the water. All their coffees have nice balance and flavor, and all are light to medium roasts.”

Constellation will go for a diner-style vibe. In addition to serving up mainly espresso-based drinks, it serves up slices from the Pittsburgh Pie Guy.

Within the next few weeks, Constellation will have new painted signs and furniture designed to make the space more cozy. Weiland says she hopes to add more retail business and coffee classes in the coming months. Constellation Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

East End’s Reverse Keg Ride on for Saturday
The East End Brewery will hold its annual Reverse Keg Ride — a bike trek from the OTB Bicycle Café on the South Side to the Brewery’s home in Larimer — this Saturday.

The annual event celebrates the moving of an empty keg of East End’s Pedal Pale Ale from OTB back to the brewery, and ends in the ceremonial tapping of the first keg of its Snow Melt Ale. Registration is available through the event page on East End’s website and costs $20 per rider, with a $25 fee for late registration. The ride is limited to 300 participants and note:  there won’t be a day-of registration.

The convoy will depart OTB at 4 p.m. and arrive back at the brewery around 5:30.

Market Square will host final farmer’s market of the season tomorrow
A smattering of Halloween events will help mark the end of the season for the Market Square Farmer’s Market tomorrow.
Daycare centers will conduct trick-or-treating around the market, booths will be extra spooky and vendors will adorn their favorite Halloween costumes. DJ Soy Sos and local singer-songwriter Jess Sides will provide the daytime entertainment, and instructors from the Arthur Murray Dance School on Sixth Street will do three 10-minute performances during lunch hours.

It will mark the final 2013 installment for the popular Downtown market, which this season, attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors each week.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Amy Weiland, Scott Smith

AIA recognizes local firms for design excellence

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced the winners of its 14th annual design awards competition Thursday during a gala at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education center in Downtown. Pittsburgh presumptive mayor Bill Peduto presented the awards, which were open to submissions from any members of AIA Pittsburgh or AIA members from across the country who worked on a project within AIA Pittsburgh’s 11-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For a refresher, here's our slideshow roundup of this year's nominees in Pittsburgh.

The winners are:

People’s Choice Award: IKM Incorporated for St. Clair Outpatient Center
Historic Preservation Award of Excellence: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Geotel, with Deborah Berke Partners for the 21C Museum Hotel; Strada Architecture for Fourth Avenue Dollar Bank Renovation
Design & Innovation Award of Excellence: Urban Design Build Studio for PURIFLUME
Architectural Detail & Craftsmanship Awards of Excellence: Astorino for St. Thomas A’Becket Church – East Wall; Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for Campus for a Global Entertainment Company – Glass Wall
Young Architects Studio Competition Honor Award: Drew Weinheimer for Light Trail
Interior Architecture Certificates of Merit: EDGE Studio/GBBN Architects for MAYA Design; WTW Architects and Gensler for Reed Smith LLP Office Interiors
Interior Architecture Honor Award: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Geotel, with Deborah Berke Partners for the 21C Museum Hotel
Green Design Citations: studio d’ARC Architects for SOTA Construction Services, Inc. Office Building; The Design Alliance Architects for Center for Sustainable Landscapes
Green Design Certificate of Merit: Pfaffmann + Associates for Café at the Point
Architecture Honor Awards: DRS Architects, with Sasaki Associates for the Robert M. Smith Student Center; Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for Saint Lespwa Center Of Hope

This year’s jury was comprised of New Orleans AIA members Steve Dumez, Anne Marie Decker and Maurice Cox. Decker was on hand to provide the jury’s comments on its selections.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: AIA Pittsburgh

Space at 1100 Smallman will be 59 new rental units

The Strip District is re-emerging as a residential neighborhood and developer Brian Schreiber is the latest to get in on the action.

Schreiber and his Shadyside-based Schreiber Real Estate will construct a 59-unit apartment building at 1100 Smallman Street, right where the Strip meets Downtown. The structure, which will stand six stories, will encompass a building Schreiber currently owns at the address in addition to an entirely new structure.

“It’s really within the central business district, so it’s well-suited to people who work there,” Schreiber says.

The complex Schreiber is currently calling 1100 Smallman will contain about 60,000 square feet. About two-thirds of the building will be one-bedroom units, and the other third will be comprised of two-bedroom apartments. Each unit will have one bathroom per bedroom. 1100 Smallman will include on-site parking, exercise facilities, a partial roof garden, community rooms and outdoor deck areas.

Art Lubetz’s Front Studio Architects will serve as the designing firm. The parties haven’t yet agreed on a contractor, and Schreiber says he’ll likely choose a leasing agent by the middle of next year. Schreiber says he anticipates rents at 1100 Smallman to range between $1,400 and $1,800 per month. Lubetz is also designing the condos at nearby 1135 Penn, which will be ready offer significant tax credits and will be ready in a few months.

1100 Smallman will not touch any part of Schreiber’s nearby properties, including the buildings housing popular restaurants Eleven and Lidia’s Pittsburgh

The apartment building is scheduled to be completed by either late winter or early spring of 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Schreiber

Two Downtown Pittsburgh programs garner international recognition

During its World Congress and annual conference in New York City last week, the International Downtown Association recognized a two of Downtown Pittsburgh’s innovative improvement programs.

The Paris to Pittsburgh Sidewalk Activation and Façade Improvement Program received a Downtown Pinnacle Award, and the Peoples Gas Holiday Market claimed a Merit Award. Both programs are the work of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“The façade program, we were told, was chosen because of its longevity. When you walk around Downtown, it’s easy to see the impact that this program has had,” says PDP spokesperson Leigh White. “In Market Square, there’s hardly a single restaurant which hasn’t taken advantage of Paris to Pittsburgh. It’s definitely changed the face of the city.”

As a Pinnacle Award recipient, the PDP is responsible for producing a webinar on its winning project, and spreading its methods of downtown revival to other cities making to look improvements. That’s nothing new for the PDP, whose staffers are regularly asked to make presentations on Project Pop Up to other downtown associations looking to innovate.

The holiday market, on the other hand, is a relatively new program.

“It was just introduced last winter, and we’re really excited to bring it back this year,” White says. “The whole reason for doing it is that we felt there was a need to have something anchored for the season in Downtown Pittsburgh.”

The holiday market, which serves as a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, raised $25,000 last year. White anticipates eclipsing that mark this year. The market will open the day after Light Up Night and run an extra week. The PDP plans to more than double the number of participating vendors and make Market Square “feel more like a village,” according to White.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Transit Tales will bring locals' stories from the bus to the stage

Just like the subway in New York City, the metro in Washington, D.C. or the EL in Chicago, if you’ve ever ridden a bus to get from place to place in Pittsburgh, chances are you have a story.

Now, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and Pittsburghers for Public Transit are teaming up with Bricolage Production Company to collect and deliver those stories with Transit Tales — a creative project which aims to both entertain and raise awareness about Pittsburgh’s transportation issues.

“There really is a community out there of transit riders. They might not be a close-knit community, but they are a community, and their voices need to be heard because transit is so important to the well-being of our region,” says Chris Sandvig, regional policy director for the PCRG.

Husband-and-wife team Tami Dixon and Jeffrey Carpenter, who run Bricolage, have been collecting stories since the spring. They plan to integrate them into a number of different productions, including their popular Wordplay series, which mixes live storytelling with music mash-ups, and Fifth Wall, which blurs the line between scripted storytelling and current events.

“We always say the bus is the great equalizer,” Dixon says. “You could be sandwiched between a CEO and a homeless person and we’re all travelling together — we can see how we’re all connected."

Carpenter added that Transit Tales won’t be limited to theatrical production. There will be photography exhibits, audiovisual art and collaborations to broadcast transit riders’ stories on local radio.

“In doing a project like this, you have to let the material dictate what the result is,” he says.

“We don’t really think of it this way,” Sandvig added, “but transportation is a human service, and delivery of it is crucial to how we live our lives.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Chris Sandvig, Tami Dixon, Jeffrey Carpenter

Eat + Drink: A harvest dinner at Six Penn, a new sub shop Downtown and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local food news.

Downtown gets new sub shop
Penn Station East Coast Subs, which offers hot and cold sandwiches in a fast-casual atmosphere, will open its third Pittsburgh location at 808 Liberty Avenue in Downtown.

The new shop is the latest franchise installment from father-son team Denny and Jon Keidel and partner John Adams. They also own locations on Centre Avenue in Shadyside and William Penn Highway in Monroeville.

Lawrenceville juice bar opening new location
Embody Natural Health, the Upper Lawrenceville juice and smoothie spot from Aimee Woods, will open a second location in Wexford later this month.

In addition to juices and smoothies, the new location will offer nutrition and lifestyle counseling services as well as yoga and fitness classes and acupuncture workshops.

“It’s really been developing and we’re adding on,” says Embody’s Rachel Miller.

Juice Up 412 to hold free tasting
Juice Up 412, the East Liberty-based juice bar which operates out of The Livermore, will hold a free tasting on Monday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eat + Drink profiled Juice Up 412 back in August, and highly recommends trying them out if you haven't already.

Six Penn hosts harvest dinner
To celebrate eight years in business, Six Penn Kitchen will host a special five-course harvest dinner tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m.

The menu, which will include appetizers, cheese and dessert courses, is headlined with entrees of buttered scallops and mussels served with a local corn broth, as well as a short rib course with popcorn grits, grilled squash and port demi-glace.

The dinner is $75, or $50 without wine pairings. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 412-566-7366.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rachel Miller
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