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Eat + Drink: Wigle's 92 Neighborhoods series, a beer dinner at the Frick and vegan food in Aspinwall

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

Wigle launching neighborhoods series
It’s a busy time for the folks at Wigle Whiskey. Later this month, their aged rye will become the first Wigle product to hit shelves in Pennsylvania’s state stores. Though Wigle may be expanding their reach, the family-owned distillery hasn’t forgotten its mission to bring whiskey to Pittsburgh.

On Friday, March 21, Wigle will host the first installment of its 92 Neighborhoods Series with an evening focused on the history, food, art and culture of East Liberty.

“We have so many great partners in East Liberty. It’s a neighborhood ripe for celebration,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “Our goal is to have one of these every month with a different neighborhood with the goal of celebrating each neighborhood in the city.”

Kevin Sousa will be on-hand with food from his East Liberty restaurants, Station Street Food and Union Pig & Chicken, and will talk about his approach to starting fresh businesses in East Liberty.

“I’m going to give a short presentation and then it’ll be an open discussion,” he says.

Local merchants Olive & Marlowe, which recently moved from the old Pittsburgh Public Market into a new retail space in Indigo Square, will also attend, along with a plethora of East-Liberty-related organizations.

As for the fare he’ll be serving up, Sousa is holding off on planning a menu until he has a better idea of what the weather will be like.

“If it’s chillier, it will lean more toward the barbecue end,” he says.

Tickets to the East Liberty celebration at Wigle cost $20 and are available through the distillery’s website.

Café at the Frick holding craft beer dinner
The Café at the Frick, the on-site restaurant at the Frick Art & Historical Center and one of Pittsburgh’s hidden gems, will hold a craft beer dinner on Thursday, March 20.

The Café will stage one seating, at 7PM, and pair beers from Fat Head’s in North Olmstead, Ohio with a five-course tasting menu prepared by the Frick’s Executive Chef Seth Bailey.

“We will be pairing each course with a different Fat Head’s beer selection,” Bailey says, adding that among the courses, diners can expect a shrimp crème brûlée with a sweet onion sugar.

Tickets for the dinner are $70, which includes both tax and gratuity. You can purchase them by calling 412-371-0600.

Randita’s expanding to Aspinwall
Randita’s Grill, the Saxonburg-based vegan restaurant and catering service which has become immensely popular since its humble food-truck beginnings in May of 2012, will open a second location in Aspinwall this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Kevin Sousa, Seth Bailey

Green Lane Project bringing five miles of bike lanes to Pittsburgh

After getting its first real green lanes in Bloomfield last summer, Pittsburgh is one of six American cities that will receive funding and assistance toward establishing safer, dedicated bicycle lanes under the cycling advocacy group PeopleForBikesGreen Lane Project.

Over the next two years, the project will help Pittsburgh establish five miles of protected bicycle lanes on city streets.

“It means we’re one step closer to making our vision a reality,” says Bike PGH Executive Director Scott Bricker, whose organization last year launched its Better Bikeways vision for improving Pittsburgh’s cycling infrastructure. “It’s our vision to provide more safe and comfortable bikeways with 21st century design standards to Pittsburgh.”

Pittsburgh’s participation in the Green Lane Project will net the city a grant of $25,000 for bike lane improvement, which includes tools such as paint, signage, curbs, planters and landscaping. Pittsburgh will also receive $250,000 in engineering, training, outreach and support, which will help give city planners and elected officials the help they need to implement best practices.

“There are some technical things we have to figure out,” Bricker says. “It’s not just protected bikeways but other innovative design.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto addressing the opening plenary of the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, during which he nominated Bricker for a seat on the board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

“Our goal is to become a top-10 bike-friendly city,” Peduto said during his address.

Other cities selected for the Green Lanes Project include Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis and Seattle. Previous participants have included Memphis, Portland, Austin and San Francisco — all cities which Bricker has cited as aspirational models for increasing Pittsburgh’s bike-friendliness.

“Without a doubt, it’s a huge boost,” Bricker says. “Green lanes and bike share really go hand-in-hand. With the bike share we’re launching toward the end of summer, we’re going to see many more people riding bikes in Pittsburgh.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Scott Bricker

Walnut Capital bringing Homewood Suites to the Strip District

Walnut Capital has had a hard time finding the right use for the retail/restaurant space at 1400 Smallman Street in the Strip District so they’ve opted to tear it down and start over. The local developer is currently demolishing the on-site structure and will build a Homewood Suites in the space next to Lidia’s Pittsburgh.

“This is a really great new use for the space. The market could use a hotel and it’s going to complement Lidia’s,” says Walnut Capital’s Greg Perelman, adding that demolition should take about another two weeks. “We’re over the toughest part right now.”

The 150-room hotel to the Strip, right on the edge of Downtown, is a new model from Hilton, designed to cater mainly to business travelers. It will be the first Homewood Suites within the city. A second location is slated to open in Robinson this summer.

Pittsburgh-based builder PJ Dick will handle the construction, and Walnut Capital will partner with Concord Hospitality, which will manage the hotel.

“The market in Pittsburgh for limited-service hotels is pretty tight,” Perelman says. “It’s a very strong market right now. I think we’re close enough to downtown and the convention center, and it gives people an alternative.”

Once demolition is complete, Perelman says, the construction on the hotel should take about 18 months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Greg Perelman

Eat + Drink: A barleywine festival, a writer in the kitchen, mac & cheese fallout and more

‘Hell with the Lid Off’ celebrates 10 years at Kelly’s
Kelly’s Bar and Lounge will host its 10th annual Hell with the Lid Off Barleywine Festival on Saturday, March 8, with sessions running from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 pm.

Hell with the Lid Off offers participants the chance to taste more than 100 different barleywines, about 35 of which will be available on draft.

“From what we understand, it’s the only festival of its kind in the country and it’s here in Pittsburgh,” says Kelly’s General Manager Deirdre Kane. “We have barleywines dating back to 2004 and some from breweries which are no longer in production. It’s some really rare stuff.”

Tickets for Hell with the Lid Off are $75 and available both at Kelly’s (located at 6012 Penn Circle South) and through Showclix.

Hal Klein: Journalist, Cook, Renaissance man
“I kind of came of age in California and I miss eating really good Mexican food,” says local food writer Hal Klein. “A lot of people think that Mexican food is really just tacos and burritos, but it goes way beyond that.”

Klein will trade his pen for an apron next week when he hosts Bar Marco’s March 10 edition of No Menu Monday. Though he’s done it twice before, Klein says he expects this go to be something of a departure from his prior outings.

“The first one was a challenge because I’d never cooked in a restaurant kitchen and I’d never cooked for that many people before. The second time, I felt like I was really in the zone and knew what I was doing. This time, I’m cooking things on a much bigger scale,” Klein says. “It’ll be a challenge, but it will be pretty cool.”

Among his offerings, the self-taught cook is planning two soups, carnitas, refried beans, pickled vegetable and stuffed poblano peppers.

“I think culinary school is a really good thing, but I think a lot of chefs will tell you that the best education that they got was working in kitchens with other chefs,” Klein says. “Be organized, take a deep breath, have good help.”

Mac & Cheese Now! Redux
Eat + Drink’s glance last week at the Pittsburgh macaroni and cheese scene caused something of a stir on the old Internet.

E-mails and tweets poured in with omitted gems, including offerings from Salt of the Earth, Winghart’s, Union Pig & Chicken, Tartine and Blowfish BBQ.

Pittsburgh mainstay Kelly’s and the upstart Independent Brewing Company nearly came to blows via Twitter over the question of mac supremacy, but cooler heads prevailed.

Sewickley Soup Crawl
The third annual Sewickley Soup Crawl will take place on Saturday, March 15 from noon to 3 p.m. in Sewickley Village. This year’s special guest will be actor Larry Thomas, best known for his portrayal of The Soup Nazi in the 1995 Seinfeld episode of the same name.

For more information, visit the Soup Crawl’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Deirdre Durant, Hal Klein

City, Buncher agree to explore other plans for Strip District produce terminal

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Friday that the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Buncher Co. agreed to a six-month hold on Buncher’s plans to develop a section of the Strip District which includes the produce terminal building on Smallman Street.

Buncher’s proposal involves demolishing the western third of the building, but Peduto has met with company executives regularly since taking office in January in an effort to find an option that would see the building preserved.

“What six months does is allow us to put together a viable economic plan for the adaptive reuse of the terminal building,” Peduto says. “If we can find other options that would help to see their development occur, help to preserve the terminal building and create an adaptive reuse for it, we’re going to pursue it, and Buncher is willing to be a partner in helping us get there.”

In addition to preserving the building, the city would like to see Smallman Street completely refurbished from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, including making the stretch more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and transforming the area into Pittsburgh’s answer to Seattle’s Pike Place Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal. According to Peduto, it’s just one section of the Allegheny Green Boulevard and Allegheny Riverfront Vision, plans the city would like to implement.

The agreement, which allows the city to work with other developers in trying to find a solution which both preserves the terminal and meets Buncher’s need for access to the site of its planned $450 million Riverfront Landing project, does not usurp Buncher’s option to buy the building from the URA for $1.8 million. Any equitable solution, Peduto says, will involve access to the site through the terminal.

“Even the preservation community understands that would be a condition by which the preservation of the building could happen,” Peduto says. “Even with that, it opens up the terminal building in a way that you have different pods, and those pods could be of different uses, from housing to commercial to other options that are kind of cutting edge. With all those proposals that are out there, the critical part of the next six months is showing the financing.”


Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Bill Peduto

Local grocer bringing market to the Mexican War Streets

The space at 1327 Arch Street in the Mexican War Streets has been a corner grocery store since the building first went up in 1895. Most recently, it spent 18 years as Doug’s Market before owner Doug Nimmo closed up shop in December.

Now, another local grocer has emerged to revive the market and keep the tradition going.

Rob Collins, a Manchester resident who owns the Bryant Street Market in Highland Park, is refinishing the space and will open as the Allegheny City Market later this month.

“We’ll have a whole mix of conventional, organic, natural and gluten-free products,” Collins says. “We’ll have fresh bread delivered every day, and anything local that we sell over at Bryant Street we’ll add here, like eggs, chocolate and dairy.”
The store will also offer a small variety of prepared food, including sandwiches made on site. According to Collins, the sandwiches are among his other market’s most popular items.

War Streets residents are eager for a new local grocery, especially if it’s able to cater to the whole of the community, which has seen the wealth gap amongst its residents grow over the last 10 years.

“There’s still an extreme wealth spectrum in this neighborhood,” says Brian McGuirk, who with his wife, Caitlin, bought a home in the War Streets last year. “I think it would be good if it could serve both ends of the community. It’s exciting to see something like that come in. If we could get by supporting a local place, we’d definitely do that.”

That’s exactly what Collins intends to do.

“Like I tell everybody over at Bryant Street, we’ll have everything you need to survive except booze,” he says.

Collins is aiming to open the Allegheny City Market on March 22.


Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Rob Collins, Brian McGuirk

Eat + Drink: Beard award nominees, the local mac & cheese scene and more

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

Pittsburgh has two Beard nominees
For the fourth year in a row, Pittsburgh will have some skin in the game when the James Beard Awards are announced on March 19th.

Downtown’s Butcher and the Rye is one of 25 semifinalists for “Outstanding Bar Program,” and Justin Severino, the chef and owner of Cure in Lawrenceville, is one of 20 semifinalists for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.”

More than 600 culinary professionals vote annually on the awards, which recognize excellence in cuisine, culinary education and culinary writing in the United States.

Previous Pittsburgh semifinalists in the “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category include Legume’s Trevett Hooper in 2013 and Kevin Sousa, then of Salt of the Earth, in 2012. Salt was a semifinalist in 2011 for “Best New Restaurant.”

Pittsburgh’s Best Mac & Cheese
It used to be so easy. When asked where to get the best in the ultimate comfort food, Pittsburghers could quickly respond “Kelly’s.”

While the East Liberty lounge is still very much on the list, now there’s a conversation to be had.

Meat & Potatoes
offers a mac & cheese made with chorizo and pulled pork. Its sister restaurant, Butcher and the Rye, one-ups it with a sophisticated combination of taleggio, fontina, chevre, cheddar and parmesan.

SMOKE, the popular Homestead (soon-to-be Lawrenceville) taco joint, takes a consistently delicious yet experimental position and has served up everything from a Caprese-style mac with buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes and basil to a version with chorizo, swiss and gorgonzola.

Newest to the scene is Independent Brewing Company, which touts East End Brewing’s Smoked Porter to go along with cheddar, gouda and fontina cheeses.

Do any of these knock Kelly’s out of the top spot? Are there any we missed? Let us know what you think.

March Dishcrawl
The next edition of Pittsburgh’s Dishcrawl will take place on Tuesday, March 25 and will feature four locations in Pittsburgh’s most famous-for-its-food neighborhood, the Strip District. February’s sold-out Dishcrawl took diners around Downtown last week, stopping at Sharp Edge Bistro, Six Penn Kitchen, La Cucina Flegrea and Perle.

Writer: Matthew Wein


Oxford looking to break ground on Hot Metal Flats this spring

The Hot Metal Street corridor, which over the last five years has seen a cadre of large buildings constructed in and around the South Side Works, — including two hotels — is getting new residential space.

Oxford Development will break ground this spring on the Hot Metal Flats, a 115-unit apartment building on the lot between the SpringHill Suites Southside Works and IBEW Local No. 5. Hot Metal Flats will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 570 to 1,200 square-feet, and averaging about 700 square feet.

“Most of the units will have some kind of view of the city, the river or the South Side Slopes,” says Megan Stearman, Oxford’s marketing coordinator, adding that most units will have either balconies or Juliet balconies.

Humphreys & Partners, a Dallas-based firm, is handling the architecture while local contractor PJ Dick will do the construction. Walnut Capital will manage the property and handle leasing. Among its amenities, Hot Metal Flats will include off-street parking for tenants’ cars and bicycles, a fitness center and common areas for outdoor recreation and grilling.

“All of the access it will provide, from the trails and the riverfront to all of the South Side’s restaurants and shops, is itself a main amenity,” Stearman says.

Hot Metal Flats will be Oxford’s second project on the South Side. It completed and opened the HYATT house, just across Hot Metal Street, last year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Megan Stearman

52nd Street Market will open Saturday

The 52nd Street Market, a joint effort of Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley to bring a locally sourced corner grocery store to Lawrenceville, will open its doors on Saturday.

Located at 601 52nd Street in the space which years ago housed the Bloomfield Market, the 800-square-foot store will bring fresh, organic produce and other locally produced items to Lawrenceville. Its owners hope it will become hub in the community.

“Right in the very beginning, we’re just going to be a grocer,” says Kane, who first met Walmsley while volunteering in Lawrenceville’s community gardens. “We won’t be selling made-to-order sandwiches or coffee just yet, but we’ll have some pre-packaged items.”

Kane says she hopes the market will have its coffee and on-site kitchen services functioning for customers within the next month. The market passed its health inspection on Monday and will get its first inventory tomorrow. Much of its produce will come from Saxonburg-based Frankferd Farms, but Kane and Walmsley are also using other local vendors, such as Turner Dairy Farms, Zeke’s Coffee and the North Side’s Mueller’s Hardware for dry goods such as laundry detergent and cat food. Additionally, Kane and Walmsley have reached out to Greenfield Gardens, which both say makes some of Pittsburgh’s best local pickles.

“We’re going to do a really soft opening first. Once the weather clears, we’re going to have a big party,” Kane says. “It’s sort of amazing how it’s all coming together.”

Follow the 52nd Street Market on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deidre Kane

Eat + Drink: Independent Brewing Company, Quiet Storm's menu at Ava, Pittsburgh Beerfest

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

Independent Brewing Company opens today
The Independent Brewing Company, the new venture from brothers Matt and Peter Kurzweg that specializes in serving up local brews and spirits held a successful soft opening over the weekend and will open full-time today.

Don’t be mistaken, Independent doesn’t brew its own beer — but neither did its namesake. The tavern takes its name from a conglomerate of about 15 small breweries which formed in Pittsburgh in 1905. Until Prohibition, the Independent Brewing Company held the second-largest piece of western Pennsylvania’s beer market behind only the still-extant Pittsburgh Brewing Company. Independent went bust in 1933, its name, logo and trademarks all abandoned.

The Kurzwegs claimed and revived them, and Independent’s “IBC” bottle stamp lies set in a stately, old-fashioned mosaic tile backsplash above the bar, installed just last week. All beers served at the tavern will come from within a 100-mile radius of Pittsburgh.

For its opening, Independent will tap selections from Pittsburgh-based East End, Hop Farm and CoStar breweries, as well as offerings from Elk Creek in Millheim, Four Seasons in Latrobe, Sprague Farm in Venango and North Country in Slippery Rock.

“Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to have a super-limited menu consisting mainly of bar snacks,” says Peter Kurzweg. “Monique [Ruvolo] is starting up on Friday with a full menu.”

Ruvolo, formerly the chef at Club Café, has created a menu divided into small and large bites. The appetizers include Mo’ Fries — French fries topped with feta, parsley, garlic and cumin. An initial selection of four bigger plates is highlighted by a house mac & cheese made with smoked gouda, Fontina, cheddar and East End Brewery’s Smoked Porter, sandwiches of bacon or tofu and tacos made with chicken cooked in a local stout.

The tavern’s music, Kurzweg says, will be very carefully curated to match with the beers. Independent’s first customers on Saturday were treated to a steady dose of James Brown while Four Seasons Brewing’s Get Down Brown Ale was on special.

Independent Brewing Company is at 1704 Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill and is open Wednesday through from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ava/Quiet Storm open today!
Though the sight of Justin Strong going rogue and slinging coffee outside of Ava Café & Lounge’s new Oakland location would have been pretty hilarious, it’s not going to come to that.

Ava got its green and white sticker yesterday and will open its first-floor café — a joint-venture with former Quiet Storm owner Jill MacDowell — today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The café had been scheduled to open Monday, but the opening was pushed back two days until a health inspection could be completed.

Strong tweeted the menu yesterday.

Pittsburgh Beerfest
The Pittsburgh Beerfest, a two-night festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown, will take place next Friday and Saturday.

The winter sibling of the Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest held at Stage AE promises a selection of at least 300 craft beers on hand. VIP and general admission tickets remain, but Connoisseur’s Level tickets are already sold out.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Peter Kurzweg, Monique Ruvolo, Justin Strong

Grist House Brewing coming to Millvale this spring

If there’s one lesson Pittsburgh has taught the world, it’s that you can turn nearly anything into a brewery.

Expanding on that concept and adding to the resurgence in Millvale, Brian Eaton and Kyle Mientkiewicz, childhood friends who grew up in Erie, are working to open Grist House Brewing. But it’s not in an old church, nor is it in a garage.

Their space, located at 10 Sherman Street in Millvale, was built as a slaughterhouse in the mid-1950s and was functional through the 1970s. The old meat hook-and-trolley system still hangs from the ceiling above the space that will be the pub, and a large room off to the side lined with insulated glass block was used for refrigeration.

“We’re trying to keep it kind of rustic and industrial,” Eaton says, adding that some of the walls in the pub and part of the bar are made from wood taken from a 100-year-old barn on Mientkiewicz’s family farm in Sarver.

Grist House’s brewing system, which is due to arrive from Wisconsin next week, will include a 15-barrel capacity and four fermenters. Once they begin brewing, Grist House won’t just fill growlers and pint glasses in its on-site brewpub, they’ll also be distributing to local restaurants and bars. Eaton and Mientkiewicz are planning three year-round flagship beers: a hoppy American red ale, a brown ale and a light session pale ale called Gristful Thinking.

“We’ll have ten taps in the pub which will carry the year-rounds, and we’ll be doing seasonals and one-offs — whatever we feel like brewing, we’ll put on tap,” Eaton says.

The pub will seat about 45 people indoors with an additional 20 to 30 seats available on an adjacent outdoor deck.
“What we’re going for is a big open concept. If you’re sitting in the pub, you’re really going to feel like you’re inside the brewery,” Eaton says.

Eaton and Mientkiewicz have been working on the building for about nine months, and it’s impressively close to done, especially considering they’ve handled all the renovations — from electrical and plumbing to gas and heating — entirely themselves. Grist House tentatively plans to open in late April or early May.

You can follow Grist House’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Brian Eaton, Kyle Mientkiewicz

Downtown Pittsburgh CDC 'hatching' new crowdfunding resource

It’s a debate as old as Mineo’s versus Aiello’s, North Hills versus South Hills or Penguins versus Flyers: Are you a Kickstarter person or an Indiegogo person?

Okay, so maybe it’s just not quite on par with those rivalries. But thanks to a new program launched by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation you can crowd-fund your next big idea with a resource right here in Pittsburgh.

The PDCDC has launched Hatch — a civic crowd-funding program especially for creative improvement projects in and around Allegheny County.

“Initially, we’d envisioned this as a Downtown-only program, but it really doesn’t take that much to widen the geographic scope so other communities can benefit from it,” says the PDCDC Communications Director Hadley Pratt. “We’ll work with you to craft a good plan on any sort of project that can benefit the community in some way.”

Like the other crowd-funding sites, Hatch recoups a small percentage of the project’s total funding — in this case, 6 percent. But if the project is referred to Hatch through another community organization, Hatch will split its share evenly with the referring organization.

Hatch, which launched in January after nearly a year in development, is already working to help fund a handful of projects including a theater space, an off-leash dog park, a street lighting project and a lecture series.

At the same time, Pratt says she thinks the program spread the word about crowd-funding to people who might not normally use it.

“We really want to see complete, well-thought-out project proposals and we’ll work with people every step of the way to make sure they have things they can use to engage an audience,” Pratt says. “We want to see things that have a great chance of succeeding and making a difference in the area. We’re open to a lot.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Hadley Pratt

State considering changing delivery laws for small distilleries

Imagine a world in which local craft distilleries are thriving and you can buy their products online, rather than only at the distillery because the state stores still don’t carry them.

That’s crazy talk!

Where do you think you are? Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission are vetting regulation changes which would allow permit-licensed limited distilleries to deliver their products directly to consumers.
If everything goes smoothly, you’ll be able to order that bottle of Wigle Rye or Maggie’s Farm Rum over the internet and have it delivered straight to your door.

According to PLCB spokesperson Stacy Kriedman, there are three stages left in approving the process. The first step will take place next Thursday, when the PLCB and IRRC will hold a public meeting on the regulatory changes.

“If the regulations are approved, the attorney general’s office will have 30 days to approve them. If the attorney general’s office approves, the regulations would be effective once published in the state bulletin,” Kriedman says.

All told, home delivery from permit-license limited distilleries could be a reality in Pennsylvania by late April.

“We’ve been working on this with them for a couple of years and they very readily saw the potential of cultivating local and state economies around this opportunity,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “We’ve built a business on selling directly to consumers, so we see this as a continuation of that, but we’re doing things that you can’t really do if you’re trying to meet volume demands for a big distributor.”

In November of last year, the state relaxed laws on limited distilleries, allowing them to self-distribute to bars and restaurants on a wholesale basis. That makes it easier for restaurants to patronize local liquor makers, but the new regulations would do even more to open up the market.

“Act 113 of 2011 created the limited distillery license and the regulations are really just an update to that, and to make sure that limited distilleries have the same privileges as limited wineries,” Kriedman says.

Craft liquor sales account for .1 percent of Pennsylvania’s alcohol market. That might not sound like much, but availability has always been a mitigating factor.

“It’s an enormous opportunity for growth for us, going from one retail location in Pittsburgh to being available to entire state,” Grelli says. “If we can go from .1 percent of this area to .1 percent of the state, that’s meaningful.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Stacy Kriedman, Meredith Grelli

Eat + Drink: Quiet Storm, Ava Lounge returning and more

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

Quiet Storm re-launching at Ava Lounge’s new space
Last year saw three East End institutions — The Quiet Storm in Garfield and Justin Strong’s Ava Lounge and Shadow Lounge in East Liberty close rather suddenly. Now, they’ve joined forces and are storming back onto the scene at Ava’s new space at 304 N. Craig Street in Oakland.

“We are slowly getting the café operation up and running,” says Strong, who added that he expects health and plumbing inspections to be completed this week. “As soon as they give us the go ahead, we’re looking at a Monday opening.”

If not?

“I may have to go rogue and start slinging coffee,” Strong jokes.

Ava’s new incarnation will be called Ava Café + Lounge. The first-floor café will bring Jill MacDowell, who owned one of Pittsburgh’s most popular vegetarian cafes in The Quiet Storm, back onto Pittsburgh’s breakfast and lunch radar.

“She’s put together a really creative café menu. It’s a new element to Ava,” Strong says, adding that the café, which will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will serve grilled sandwiches, vegetarian and vegan fare. He also spoke glowingly of a turkey panini and a shake MacDowell has concocted with oats, bananas and almond milk.

There’s still work to be done on Ava’s lounge portion, which will be located on the building’s second floor. It will include its own kitchen and an entirely different menu for the bar. Between construction, acquiring permits and transferring Ava’s liquor license to the new location, Strong anticipates the lounge could be firing on all cylinders by April or May.

You can track Ava’s progress through its website and on Twitter.

Pittsburgh Juice Company opens in Lawrenceville
The Pittsburgh Juice Company, in development for the better part of a year, opened its doors Monday at 3418 Penn Avenue in Lower Lawrenceville.

The shop offers cold-pressed juices containing fruits and veggies from kale, cucumber and berries to apples, carrots and ginger.

In addition to an array of fresh, unprocessed juices, the brother-sister ownership team of Zeb and Naomi Homison will soon offer juice subscriptions.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Strong

West Elm furniture coming to Bakery Square

West Elm, a retailer of modern, high-end furniture and housewares has signed a lease and will move into Bakery Square this fall.

“They’re going to be front and center as you drive into Bakery Square,” says Greg Perelman, a spokesperson for development owner Walnut Capital. “It complements everything else we’re doing with the new rental properties and other strong retailers. It’s hip and young and we’re very happy it’s coming to Pittsburgh.”

The store will be West Elm’s first in western Pennsylvania. A Brooklyn-based subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, West Elm will occupy 8,000 square feet on Bakery Square’s eastern side, which has been vacant since the development’s construction. Williams-Sonoma also owns housewares retailer Pottery Barn.

West Elm has been looking to expand into the Pittsburgh market for several years.

“They initially looked at the project five years ago, but then the recession hit and a lot of retailers cut back,” Perelman says. “But the economy has improved and everybody wants to be in the Shadyside-Squirrel Hill-East Liberty area. It’s the hottest place in Pittsburgh to be in.”

West Elm projects to open its doors by mid-September. Its occupation of 8,000 square feet leaves about another 10,000 feet of space Walnut Capital is still looking to fill in Bakery Square. Perelman says that Walnut is “talking to some restaurant people” about that space, but wouldn’t elaborate further.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Greg Perelman
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