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Tour de Penn shopping program circumvents the "Penn detour"

The multimillion-dollar Penn Avenue reconstruction project has been a detriment to the Bloomfield and Garfield communities where the one-way detour has inhibited traffic and hidden local shops behind barricades.
“Our businesses have suffered pretty substantially during this process,” said Amber Epps, Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation commercial district manager.  “[We’re] trying to get some business back to Penn Avenue.”
But the BGC, with help from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, is working with businesses to bring foot traffic back to the impeded mom-and-pop shops between Mathilda and Evaline streets along Penn Avenue.
The URA-sponsored “Biz Buzz” program Tour de Penn -- a play on “Penn detour” -- kicked off on Dec. 6 and will run through the holidays until Feb. 14, 2015. Patrons who visit construction-affected businesses along Penn Avenue can receive rewards.
To participate, pick up a map and attached passport at businesses outside the construction zone. This neighborhood passport is the ticket for participants to win “Penn Bucks” or gift cards to participating Penn Avenue businesses.
Visitors can receive one passport stamp just for stopping in at businesses within the construction zone. Make a purchase of $5 or more at these businesses and get an extra stamp.
Participants who earn 10 stamps will be entered into a weekly raffle for a $25 gift card; those earning 20 or more stamps will be entered into a $50 gift card raffle. Each week, four gift cards will be raffled off. They can be used at any business on Penn Avenue between Mathilda Street and Negley Avenue.
Epps recommends holiday shoppers head to businesses including Mostly Mod & ARTica Gallery, Most Wanted Fine Art, Modern Formations gallery, Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, Robin’s Nest and the Pittsburgh Glass Center for passport stamps and gift-giving ideas.
Two-way traffic is expected to return at the end of December, Epps said, explaining that construction will continue in the spring with sidewalk and landscaping improvements that are projected to be completed July 31, 2015.
Tour de Penn visitors are also encouraged to use social media, posting images with hashtags #tourdepenn and #proudtobepenn. Visit www.pennavenue.org for more information, as well as to find out which business will be highlighted each week -- shopping at highlighted businesses will earn an extra stamp.
Source: Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, Amber Epps 

God rest ye merry, gentlemen: Hit up Manta Claus for a night of manly holiday shopping

When it comes to holiday shopping, are you man enough?
Manta Claus is back on Butler Street this year to prove to men --  and women -- that holiday shopping doesn’t have to be about braving the mall or fighting crowds. In fact, it can be a fun, local experience.
In 2011, a group of Lawrenceville businesses started Manta Claus, a last-minute holiday shopping extravaganza for men (and, let’s face it, anyone) who put off holiday gift purchasing. The last last-minute shopping event returns to Lawrenceville from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.
“[It’s] more or less a way to coerce men to come out and shop local,” said Pageboy Salon & Boutique owner Dana Bannon about the holiday event.
She added that Manta Claus started as a solution for men who shop impersonally online, grab a gift card or avoid the mall.  Bannon added that Lawrenceville businesses participating in Manta Claus also promise to help shoppers find the perfect gift.
And, just as Butler Street has grown, so has the holiday shopping event. Businesses up and down Butler Street will be offering free drinks, snacks, no-cost gift-wrapping and lots of great gift guidance.
Additionally, food trucks will be parked near 45th Street. Hitchhiker Brewing will be on hand at Pageboy Salon & Boutique to offer tastings of winter beers. And Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches will also be handing out treats at Pageboy.
Pageboy (3613 Butler St.) will also offer 10% off men's and women's grooming products, $25 gift certificates for $20 and free beard trims by a student barber. Divertido (3609 Butler St.) will offer 10% off all purchases, free snacks and beer. Jules (4502 Butler St.) will feature 10% off all menswear, plus $25 credit for every $100 spent. Jupe (3703 Butler St.) will be offering $10 off every $40 spent. Mid-Atlantic Mercantile (4415 Butler St.) will also give 10% off all purchases. Mister Grooming & Goods (4504 Butler St.) will offer 10% off grooming products. Atlas Bottle Works (4115 Butler St.) will host a holiday beer tasting. Pavement (3629 Butler St.) will provide snacks, free gift-wrapping and specials. And, Matthew Buchholz will be signing his book "Alternate Histories of the World” at Wildcard
Garbella Studio (5202 Carnegie St., one block off Butler and 52nd streets) will be open to the public, providing refreshments and complimentary gift-wrapping. An open house studio at Perry And Co. (5212 Butler St.) will feature FareFeathers Jewelry and 25% off -- shoppers are also welcome to enjoy their fireplace overlooking Butler with free drinks.
“This is the first year that we’ve had more than two or three of us … and it’s amazing the amount of camaraderie we have between businesses,” Bannon said. 
She added that as Butler Street has expanded, she has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of community that she still feels. Instead of competing salons and retailers, she says, Lawrenceville remains a friendly network of small businesses.
Source: Matthew Buchholz, Dana Bannon 

Maggie's Farm Rum celebrates accolades after one year in business

On the heels of its one-year anniversary, local distillery Maggie’s Farm Rum is celebrating multiple business milestones.

Allegheny Distilling, LLC, located in the Strip District, was incorporated in late 2012 and began production of Maggie's Farm Rum in October 2013. On Nov., 29, 2014, the company marked one year in business. 
Last month, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced that it will begin carrying Maggie's Farm white and spiced rums in in Premium Collection stores around southwestern Pennsylvania in time for the holidays.
Maggie's Farm Rum is the first commercially available Pennsylvania-made craft rum since Prohibition. All spirits are made from scratch and pot-distilled for full body and flavor on the Spanish-made copper still located behind the distillery's cocktail bar. The distillery is open for tastings and bottle sales Wednesday through Sunday and serves cocktails Friday evening and all day Saturday.

For its one-year anniversary, Allegheny Distilling released Maggie's Farm Pear Eau De Vie, an unaged pear brandy. The first of its kind in Pennsylvania, this pear brandy is made from 100 percent fresh-pressed and unpasteurized pear juice and bottled at 80 proof. A seasonal product, Maggie's Farm Pear Eau De Vie is limited to a 250-bottle single batch.
Maggie’s Farm is also celebrating multiple wins from the highly competitive New York International Spirits Competition, held in October at the 3 West Club in New York City. Through a blind tasting at the competition, Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Rum was awarded a silver medal. Allegheny Distilling was declared the Pennsylvania Distillery of the Year.
“It was a little surprising, [but] I had a lot of confidence,” said Maggie’s Farm founder and owner Tim Russell. He explained that the New York International Spirits Competition is not a medal factory like other competitions. He said the competition prides itself in its strict selection of winners.
Queen's Share reserve rum is made exclusively from the flavorful tail runnings of the normal Maggie's Farm cane rum distillations. It's bottled at cask strength and aged up to one year in American oak barrels. Finishes include bourbon, rye whiskey, and double barrel. Queen's Share's silver medal was among only six rums to receive this honor and no rum submitted worldwide was awarded a gold medal.

Source: Tim Russell, Maggie’s Farm Rum

Market Square arts program wins prestigious National Endowment for the Arts grant

The newfound vibrancy of Market Square will continue to thrive through Pittsburgh's bleakest winter months, thanks to a recently awarded -- and very competitive -- federal arts grant.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership recently received a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that will fund the City of Pittsburgh’s Market Square Public Art Program.

With support from the $35,000 NEA grant, the Market Square program will exhibit public art during the winter months for three consecutive years. The Market Square Public Art Program was designed to showcase contemporary public art and establish the recently redesigned Market Square as a local, regional and national arts destination.
Two new installations will be displayed in Market Square in 2015 and 2016. Next month, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will announce details about the artwork for winter of 2015, though PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup did shed a little light on what Pittsburgh can expect. While last year’s “Congregation” highlighted internationally renowned artists and works, this year’s Market Square Public Art Program will feature art specifically created for Market Square, premiering at the event.
“The intention of the program is to make Market Square a vibrant space during the winter,” Waldrup said, noting that the square is busy with events during the spring and summer.
The NEA received 1,474 eligible applications from nonprofit organizations nationwide under the Art Works category, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 919 receive for grants.
“It’s a highly competitive grant process and we feel privileged to be one of the organization’s selected,” said Waldrup.
The Market Square Public Art Program is a program of the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning Public Art Division, and is managed by the PDP.
The project launched in February 2014 with “Congregation,” a dynamic, large-scale, interactive video and sound installation by the UK’s pioneering new media artists KMA.
"I'm pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Art Works including the award to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives,” said Jane Chu, NEA Chairman.
The plan to install temporary public art in Market Square stemmed from the desire to activate the public space throughout the winter months. For three quarters of the year, Market Square is an “urban oasis” with outdoor seating, retail and array of public projects.
“In the first year of the Market Square Public Art Program, ‘Congregation’ was so well received. It brought people together to experience high-quality, engaging public art,” Waldrup said. “Additionally, it created a vitality in Market Square that was previously missing during this time of year. We look forward to bringing two more exciting installations to Downtown Pittsburgh in the next two years and appreciate the support of the NEA, which will enable us to do so.”
Source: Jeremy Waldrup, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Rent-free Wilkinsburg storefront up for grabs for interested arts nonprofit

Do you work for an arts nonprofit in need of office or gallery space? Wilkinsburg may have just the place for you.
PMC Management Company, LLC, a firm that owns commercial property in Wilkinsburg, has offered to temporarily donate a storefront at 811 Wood St. to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or government-run arts organization.
The space will be available for donation for up to two years while the firm renovates the building’s upper floors. The unit will be donated rent-free, but interested organizations must agree to pay utilities. 
Qualified organizations must provide documentation detailing their nonprofit or government status as well as a plan for the donated space by Dec. 15. This information may be sent to Chuck Alcorn, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation economic development coordinator, via email (chuck@wilkinsburgcdc.org) or general delivery (1001 Wood St., Wilkinsburg, PA 15221).
Activating the storefront goes hand in hand with WCDC’s mission to revitalize Wilkinsburg and surrounding areas through business and residential development and cultural enrichment.
“We really see this as an opportunity to bring in another positive aspect to Wilkinsburg,” Alcorn said. He added that the storefront is a promising space for local artists, as the unit is large enough to showcase work. “[We] hope that people see the potential in the space and contact us with proposals.”
For questions about this opportunity, please email (chuck@wilkinsburgcdc.org) or call Chuck Alcorn at (412) 727-7855.
Source: Chuck Alcorn, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

Gifts and Greens Market is back with custom holiday decor and artisan gifts

For holiday decor that smells as good as it looks, head to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' annual Gifts and Greens Market on Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at the Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park. 
The market provides a large assortment of fresh, aromatic specialty greens -- like incense cedar, magnolia branches, pepperberry and eucalyptus -- for holiday decor and one-of-a-kind wreaths made to order.
“What makes it really special is that we have our master gardeners set up” to craft custom wreaths on-site at the market, said Phipps adult education coordinator Gabe Tilove.
Shoppers can choose from pre-made wreaths, garlands, swags and door charms, or purchase a custom piece made by Phipps' expert design team from a beautiful collection of ribbons and ornaments. All proceeds will support Phipps' education and outreach programs.
Complementing the greens sale is a holiday boutique showcasing festive decorations from paper-white narcissus bulbs to amaryllis kits. Guest vendors will be on site until 3 p.m. each day of the sale. 
Offering everything from natural beauty products to terrariums, Artemis Botanicals, greenSinner and Urban Baroque will be selling wares in a “cheerful, low-stress atmosphere.” By shopping the Gifts and Greens Market, customers can beat the crowds of conventional malls and keep purchases local.
“You’re supporting local artisans that live in your community,” Tilove said. “It’s about supporting creativity in your city.”

Free and open to the public, the market will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Phipps Garden Center is at 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside.
Source: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Gabe Tilove

Five shippable Pittsburgh gifts for the holiday season

Cyber Monday kicked off the online holiday shopping frenzy, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon your support of local businesses as you finish up your gift giving.

For those of you who love to shop online and love to shop local, several Pittsburgh darlings have made it easy to do both. Check off these hometown gifts that will travel for the Pittsburgh expats on your list:

1.  Primanti’s Sandwiches
Primanti Bros. made the news in October with the announcement that you could now ship the “almost famous” Pittsburgh sandwich anywhere in the Unites States. For $109, you can send four French fry-laden sandwiches cross-country. Choose from pastrami, capicola or a combo pack; the sandwiches are delivered deconstructed with separately packed meat, bread, slaw, fries, cheese, tomato, hot sauce and a Primanti’s tee.
2. WildCard’s Pittsburgh merchandise
That’s right, WildCard stationery and gift shop in Lawrenceville now has an online storeWhile the Internet shop is still growing, many Pittsburgh products are ready to ship in time for the holidays, from Lil' Pierogi onesies to Pittsburgh tees to a Yinzer dictionary.
3.  The Enrico Biscotti Company’s goodies
Enrico’s in the Strip offers an online bakery that will ship their authentic biscotti and pastries to the Pittsburgher who couldn’t make it home for the holidays. Send a big red tin of Italian pastry or a biscotti gift basket!
4.  Penn Mac imported cheese
You don’t have to be on Penn Avenue to enjoy Pennsylvania Macaroni Company’s famous imported cheese counter. Penn Mac’s global selection is available online and guarantees that “cheeses are cut fresh the same day the order is shipped.”
5. Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte
Named the country’s best cake by The Huffington Post, Prantl’s will ship their burnt almond torte anywhere in the country. This delicate cake encrusted in crunchy, candied almonds would make a great dessert course at any holiday dinner.

While searching online for the perfect gift to send to friends and family near and far, keep in mind these local options that can ship anywhere in the country.

Second Breakfast debuts at Public Market with creative breakfast and brunch options

If you grabbed a tumbler of black coffee or a handful of cereal on the way out the door this morning, get a breakfast do-over at the Pittsburgh Public Market. The market's latest vendor, Second Breakfast, debuted at the Farm to Table Harvest Tasting and opened for regular Public Market hours this week.

Owner and chef Thomas Wood described some of Second Breakfast’s creative waffle and crepe options. Second Breakfast’s menu includes Tamagoyaki Japanese Omelets (rolled omelets), sweet crepes, a savory crepe of the day (which was a cider-braised turkey Florentine on the day of my visit) and Belgian Liege waffles. Wood said the Belgian Liege’s soft yeast dough is encased with caramelized, Belgian pearl sugar to create a crunch.
“It’s hearty, it’s unpretentious, it fits with Pittsburgh,” Wood said about his menu while working behind the counter at his market booth sporting his signature hat, which he described as a throwback to a 1940s deli.
The waffles come with an array of toppings, the same sauces for the crepe fillings. Options include whiskey dulce de leche from Public Market neighbor Eliza’s Oven, chocolate, chocolate hazelnut (à la Nutella), berry blends, seasonal fruit and strawberry vanilla -- with a touch of Wigle Whiskey to “wake up the vanilla.”
Wood added that the shop will also offer waffle hash browns and a bacon weave topper. He said customers can look forward to specials like the Belgian Liege waffle with bacon ice cream and maple bacon brandy syrup.
Wood previously worked as a chef at Pittsburgh restaurants and said he has always focused on organic and local ingredients, like what he now uses at his Public Market venture.
“The whole time, I was always focused on high-quality ingredients,” Wood said about his work as a chef. “But, we’re Pittsburghers,” he added, noting that a dense, filling breakfast can still be locally sourced. 
He said he has always wanted to venture out on his own and has been interested in working with the Public Market. The Market Kitchen at the Public Market gave him this opportunity, he said.
“It’s a wonderful tool [and] it’s a great business incubator,” he said about the shared-use commercial kitchen. Wood added that the cost of starting a business and supplies would have been almost insurmountable without access to the Market Kitchen. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Market Kitchen.”
In addition to kitchen access, Wood noted the support and camaraderie that comes from working in the Public Market. During our interview, another vendor stopped by to see if Wood had gotten his bacon order.
“The atmosphere here is totally collaborative and awesome,” he said.  
Source: Thomas Wood 

Friendship Circle finds new Squirrel Hill home at site of old Gullifty's

Rabbi Mordy Rudolph and his wife Rivkee have been running The Friendship Circle since its inception in 2006, when 15 teen volunteers were paired with about a dozen children with special needs. Today, the program boasts more than 200 alumni. 
The organization has outgrown its 1,200-square-foot storefront space and will move to a new, 10,000-square-foot home at 1922 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill as part of a multi-million dollar renovation at the site of the now-closed Gullifty's restaurant.
“Friendship Circle began eight years ago with about a dozen volunteers and a desire to remove barriers for children with special needs,” explained Chuck Perlow, a founding board member and co-chair of the capital campaign. “Today, this vibrant program works through nearly 300 active teen volunteers and more than 120 friends who are no longer defined by their disabilities. This unique space will be a celebration of the dramatic connections created and those yet to come.”  

Since 1994, Friendship Circle organizations have been created in more than 60 cities around the world. The program allows children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities. Friendship Circle aims to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and lasting friendships.
Rudolph said the renovation will allow the growing organization to continue to engage students with activities like art, drama and cooking clubs. The renovation will include a first-floor storefront with glass windows along the Murray Avenue front of the venue, opening it to the community. This floor will include a multi-purpose space with a performance stage, a teen lounge, a pop-up gallery space, new elevator and a working kitchen for cooking clubs and other opportunities.
A second floor with work pods will allow youth with special needs to actively participate in the planning and behind-the-scenes work of Friendship Circle in a supported work setting. The second floor will also include a play space for younger children, a parent lounge, executive offices and conference room space for the staff of Friendship Circle. A rooftop garden and outdoor recreational space will maximize the footprint of the building and provide space for members to garden and enjoy the outdoors.
On a visit to a Friendship Circle site in Michigan, Rudolph said he witnessed the organization using its center to create a simulated community within the building. Inside the site were storefronts and a manufactured Main Street. While Rudolph said the idea of community is apparent in this model, he prefers the opportunity that the Murray Avenue location gives the Pittsburgh space. Participating in an existing community is more beneficial than creating an isolated environment, Rudolph said.
In addition to creating a person-to-person community in Friendship Circle, Rudolph said, the new building has the opportunity to create relationships with neighboring businesses. Rudolph explained that he hopes to engage with existing neighbors, like barbers and grocers, for Friendship Circle field trips and outings.
Working on the new venue are Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel Architects and construction manager John Paul Busse of F.J. Busse Company. Stuart Horne, an architect with Seigle Solow Horne and former Friendship Circle board member, is helping to oversee the project. The new venue will be completely ADA-compliant, with parking available behind the building as well as at street meters.  
“I think that there is tremendous potential just by moving into the space,” Rudolph said, adding that though the organization has grown so much in almost a decade, he is still excited about the future. “[In some ways,] it feels like we’re still in our infancy … like we’re just getting started.”
Rudolph says the goal is to complete the renovation by fall 2015, in time for the start of the 2015 – 2016 school year.
Source: Rabbi Mordy Rudolph, The Friendship Circle

Grow Pittsburgh unveils Braddock Farms improvements with help from the Fairmont

Grow Pittsburgh, an urban agriculture non-profit that teaches people how to grow food and promotes the benefits of gardens in local communities, has updated its Braddock Farms site thanks in part to a $10,000 grant from Fairmont Pittsburgh.
Fairmont Pittsburgh secured the grant via the Community Assistance and Responsibility to the Environment program, a charitable initiative of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which allows hotels to support social, community and environmental projects in their local communities.
Grow Pittsburgh is the official green charity partner of Fairmont Pittsburgh. Since launching the partnership in 2011, Fairmont Pittsburgh has donated over $27,000 to Grow Pittsburgh for various initiatives including its Edible Schoolyard program.
“We are thrilled to count Fairmont Pittsburgh as a key partner as we make much needed improvements to Braddock Farms,” said Grow Pittsburgh Executive Director Julie Butcher Pezzino.
The improvements include a custom-built shipping container to be used as a storage facility and office space at the urban farm in Braddock. Grow Pittsburgh also operates an apprentice program at Braddock Farms for aspiring farmers, as well as a summer youth intern program that provides hands-on training to local high school students in sustainable agricultural production. Growing food in an urban environment is an important part of Grow Pittsburgh’s overall mission as it serves as a platform for educational programming and provides much needed access to fresh, local produce in communities that are often lacking access.
Julie Abramovic, public relations manager at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, called Braddock Farms an “educational resource center” that teaches school groups and volunteers about sustainability and farming. The grant was able to provide shaded areas and seating for groups assisting at the farm as well as storage and coolers for produce.
To unveil the updated farm and conclude the year-long project, Fairmont Pittsburgh hosted a check presentation ceremony and employee workday, where employees assisted with putting the farm to bed for winter at Braddock Farms.
Abramovic said hotel management was excited to see the project come to fruition but noted that the partnership is an ongoing relationship and that the Fairmont is looking forward to participating in future Grow Pittsburgh projects. 
Source: Julie Abramovic, Fairmont Pittsburgh

Cure chef and owner to open second Lawrenceville restaurant

The social experience of shared, small-plates dining will shape the aesthetic and the cuisine at Morcilla, the second restaurant from Justin Severino, award-winning chef and owner of Cure

Severino recently announced plans to open Morcilla, his second Lawrenceville venture, in summer 2015.
Located at 3519 Butler St., Spanish tapas spot Morcilla will be just a few blocks from Cure, Severino’s critically lauded urban Mediterranean restaurant. Hilary Prescott Severino, Justin’s wife and business partner, will co-own Morcilla and oversee the wine program, similar to her role at Cure. Spain will dominate the beverage options with a wide variety of wines and sherries as well as hard-to-find Spanish cider.
“I love Spanish food, and coming up in the industry I cooked under serious Spanish-trained chefs like Manresa’s David Kinch,” Severino said. “Spanish cooking has been a major influence on what I do at Cure, and I’m thrilled to be bringing a complete Spanish dining experience to Pittsburgh. One of my favorite aspects of Spanish cuisine is the social experience of shared, small plates dining. Morcilla is going to be a true neighborhood spot, a place to relax with a glass of wine and a quick bite at the bar after work, or a family-style dinner with friends.”
The 3,800-square-foot restaurant will boast a 54-seat dining room, 10-seat bar, 6-seat chef’s counter and 40-seat private dining room, making Morcilla larger and more casual than Cure. The menu will foster a convivial environment with a focus on sharable small plates and larger dishes served family-style. Severino said he envisions Morcilla as a neighborhood spot where one could stop on their way home from work for a full-blown meal or snacks with a cocktail.
The menu, like Cure, will focus on meats and charcuterie and will be driven, according to Severino, by a charbroiler, a smoker and la plancha (a flattop grill). The name Morcilla actually means blood sausage, though the definition can vary regionally.  
The tapas will include traditional mariscos tapa, consisting largely of raw, pickled and smoked shellfish. Mason jars will be both the preservation and serving vessels for the Escabeche y Conservas, which will include duck with fruit jam, marinated cheeses and grilled tomato and zucchini, all served with grilled bread. Pintxos, skewered bites traditionally served in bars, will feature octopus, pork belly and, of course, morcilla.
Severino also noted that the larger site of Morcilla will allow for dishes he can’t currently try at Cure, like more canning and a larger space to butcher whole animals. The kitchen will include a dedicated curing station, where executive sous chef Nate Hobart will create both Spanish and Italian-style charcuterie for Morcilla and Cure, respectively.
Similar to Cure, Severino will dictate Morcilla's design, sourcing counters, cabinets, tables and chairs from Pittsburgh’s Kramer Customs. Polished old-wood floors and ceilings and exposed brick walls accented by woodblock art prints by the nearby Tugboat Print Shop will give the space a lived-in, neighborhood vibe. 
Severino grew up in a small town in Ohio and has worked in fine dining establishments in several cities, but said the atmosphere of Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville specifically, feels like home. “It’s a blue-collar town,” he said, “and [my wife and I] really relate to it.”
Morcilla will be open summer 2015 for dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with lunch and dinner served on Saturdays and Sundays.
Source: Cure, Justin Severino

Local working mothers find support at The Mom Con

When local attorney Natalie Kovacic gave birth to her son Joey four years ago, she was starting her career and balancing motherhood. Kovacic said she struggled with this transition, like many women. And, after attending a business conference, she came up with an idea to build a network for Pittsburgh working mothers: The Mom Con.
Last year, Kovacic created a one-day Mom Con event with the idea that there are two sides to every mom: the goals you have for your children and the goals you have as a woman.
The Mom Con returns on Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15, as a two-day conference to empower and inspire modern and working moms through motivational speakers, workshops directed to the working mom, a retail marketplace, lunch, and even a bit of pampering. Childcare is available at an additional cost. Because moms are often the ones behind the camera, Kovacic said the conference will offer attendees an opportunity for headshot photos of their own.
“The conference has the same goal -- empowering and connecting moms -- but there's a lot that's different this year,” Kovacic said about the growth of the 2014 conference. “We have 10 new speakers offering more content and covering a wider range of topics that are important to our attendees.”
The Mom Con expects 175 moms to attend the event at the North Pittsburgh Marriott Hotel in Cranberry Township. Guest speakers set to share tricks of the trade include Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna; Dr. Amanda Jordan, pediatric and pregnancy chiropractor; and Cooper Monroe, co-founder of The Motherhood, Inc.
In addition to career tips, attendees and speakers will discuss balancing it all, personally and professionally. Kovacic said speakers will discuss everything from finding inspiration to health to finance.
“I would like for moms to feel like they now have a community, a support system, to help them on their journey to growing or starting their business dreams,” says Nicole Mildren, marketing director of The Mom Con.
Kovacic echoed the sentiment that The Mom Con’s most important role is creating a community for area mothers, where women can find friends, mentors and support.
As for the future of The Mom Con, Kovacic said she hopes it will continue as an annual event that discusses the unique obstacles mothers in business face. She added that one day she may expand the conference to other cities, but, for now, her goal is to continue to support mothers here in Pittsburgh. 
“[The Mom Con is] an annual event that continues to grow, but also a thriving community of moms that support one another throughout the year. That's really what The Mom Con was made for. To learn together, connect with one another and keep that connection long after the conference is over,” she said.
To register for the event, please visit themomcon.com/registration/.
Source: The Mom Con, Natalie Kovacic

Farm to Table Harvest Tasting celebrates the season, The Market Kitchen and new food startups

A new shared-use commercial kitchen in the Strip District will make its debut at the third annual Farm to Table Harvest Tasting on Nov. 16, offering inspiration to home cooks planning meals for the upcoming Thanksgiving and holiday feasting frenzy.

A VIP party before the Pittsburgh Public Market and Wigle Whiskey event will celebrate the opening of The Market Kitchen at the Public Market and the new food startups making use of the shared commercial kitchen.
More than 60 area vendors will provide a cornucopia of artisanal cheeses and breads, local meats, fruits and vegetables, sauces, jams, baked goods, craft beers, ciders, cocktails, wines and more. Products will be available to sample and purchase.    

This year's Farm to Table event will be held for the first time at the Public Market and Wigle Whiskey in the Strip District. Public Market vendors will participate at the venue's location at 2401 Penn Ave., and 24th Street will be closed with Farm to Table vendors lining the way, connecting the event to Wigle Whiskey at 2401 Smallman St.
The holiday event will also celebrate the launch of The Market Kitchen at the Public Market -- a shared-use commercial kitchen for food startups that want to start a business without the costs of a brick-and-mortar. During the VIP event at The Market Kitchen, chefs will offer exclusive sampling opportunities of hot mulled cider and cider cocktails, local craft brews and an exclusive Thanksgiving-inspired recipe book.
Kelly James, The Market Kitchen’s kitchen manager, explained that the seasonal cookbook was put together with recipes from Public Market vendors, chefs from across the city and future businesses using the new kitchen.
James also gave a preview of some of the Market Kitchen businesses participating in the VIP tasting. She said Root System Juice Company will debut a new recipe and Mix Salad Concept, a salad delivery company from Rachael Bane and Lia Vaccaro, will feature fresh salad ideas and samples. Second Breakfast, a breakfast-inspired venture featuring glazed waffles and crepes, will debut at the event. This new vendor to the Public Market will open on Nov. 19. And, Voodoo Brewery will be there sampling beer. James said Voodoo will soon launch a food truck that will use the kitchen as a food prep home base.
James explained that The Market Kitchen is a way to assist new businesses, from vendors to food trucks to caterers. She said this could be the startups' first step on the road to a bigger venture. 
“Now, they’re actually able to market themselves and live their dream,” she said about the kitchen’s opening and the ability to launch a food business without paying for a storefront. “It’s really exciting to give them a start.”

The Harvest Tasting is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16. Advance tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for kids, though children ages 2 and under are free. The day of the event, Harvest Tasting ticket prices will be $35 and $15, respectively. The VIP Preview is from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with tickets at $50, which includes the Harvest Tasting. 
Source: Pittsburgh Public Market, Kelly James, Farm to Table

Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey expand distribution throughout Pittsburgh

The popularity of craft beer in Pittsburgh means there's always a market for a new kid on the block. This time, it's the seasonal and core brews from California-based Port Brewing getting ready to expand distribution throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Already a fixture in Philadephia, Port Brewing will kick off its expansion in the Pittsburgh area with events around the city starting Nov. 17.  
Per an agreement with Wilson-McGinley, Port Brewing, which is headquartered out of San Marcos, Calif., will begin selling core and seasonal products from its Port Brewing and Lost Abbey labels in the newly added market this year. The company’s full portfolio of offerings will be available next fall.
Adam Martinez, media and marketing director for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, said the Port Brewing side offers American reds and hoppy beers, while The Lost Abbey brand produces the brewery’s Belgian-style and sour beers. Some of the first seasonal favorites to hit the Pittsburgh market will be the High Tide, which boasts a hoppy flavor, and Santa’s Little Helper, an imperial stout.
“We certainly did our homework and due diligence to find the right wholesaler partner to represent our brands in the western PA region,” said Brian Sauls, national sales manager for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. “We feel Wilson-McGinley represents the same core values as Lost Abbey/Port Brewing. And, that contagious passion and enthusiasm for great craft beer, shared with our current amazing group of distributors, makes this a partnership we are looking forward to.”
Fritz Wilson and Jack McGinley opened Wilson-McGinley, Inc. in Lawrenceville in 1949. They currently represent 12 counties in western Pennsylvania and handle more than 150 brands.
To help serve the market, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey have hired their first East Coast sales representative, Matt Pushinsky -- who has previously worked in Pennsylvania with Belukus Importing and in California with Sovereign Brands.
“Pittsburgh is an exciting and enthusiastic market to work in,” Pushinsky said. “I look forward to opening the new territory and working with Wilson-McGinley to bring Port and Lost Abbey to western PA.”
Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey Chief Operating Owner Tomme Arthur said the Pittsburgh expansion was attractive because of the beer’s success in Philadelphia. 
“The people in the great state of Pennsylvania have embraced our beer,” Arthur said.
Founded in 2006, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey produce an extensive line-up of continental and American-inspired ales and lagers. The company’s beers, many of which are aged in oak barrels for 12 months or longer, are recognized for their complexity, unique flavors and bold styles.  
To celebrate the new partnership, Arthur will travel to Pittsburgh for a week of events at bars, six-pack shops, grocery stores and restaurants. The schedule can be found at lostabbey.com/pittsburgh/.
Source: Brewbound.com, Tomme Arthur, Adam Martinez

Highmark introduces first-of-its-kind sleep store in Homestead

It's something everyone needs, but far too few get enough of. And the inability to get it is, quite literally, keeping people up at night. That's why Highmark Inc. is opening a first-of-its-kind store that could help people finally find what may be eluding them: a good night's sleep.  
Construction is underway on REMWorks Sleep Store, a new retail location at The Waterfront in Homestead. With a planned December opening, the shop will feature a wide range of solutions and products for people dealing with sleeplessness, sleep apnea, snoring and insomnia.
"Having trouble sleeping is something that, unfortunately, most people will face at some point in their lives," said Amy Phillips, director of REMWorks. "But, fortunately, with this new store, we have the opportunity to provide guidance to assist people in getting a good night's sleep. Our highly trained licensed sleep coaches will work with people to understand why they're having trouble sleeping and develop a plan so they can get better sleep.”
REMWorks is named for the restorative REM -- or rapid eye movement -- cycle of sleep. A certified Durable Medical Equipment Center, the REMWorks retail store will carry about 75 percent retail products and 25 percent prescription items, said Phillips. Not only is REMWorks the first retail and prescription sleep emporium in the region, Phillips said, but possibly the country.
"REMWorks Sleep Store is not a mattress store and it is not a sleep lab," Phillips said. "Rather, it is a sleep store unlike anything that's currently in the market. In a relaxing, comfortable retail environment, REMWorks will offer products to address various sleep problems and provide education about treatment options to help people get the sleep they need."
For those who've been tested and determined by their doctor to be suffering from sleep apnea, the sleep coaches at REMWorks will be able to provide CPAP machines as well as fit them for accessories used to treat sleep apnea, including CPAP masks from many different manufacturers.
Phillips said the store will feature 40 to 50 different masks, so customers can get the best fit and best comfort to suit their needs. One CPAP is so small, Phillips said, that it can fit in the palm of your hand and can recharge with a car charger – the perfect device for someone traveling or even camping. Phillips also discussed a new CPAP alternative the shop will carry, the Apniciure; which is not a mask, but suctions to the tongue.
Phillips said REMWorks will offer such a wide array of masks and CPAP devices because, from a storage perspective, this DME focuses solely on sleep.
And, by focusing on sleep, she said she hopes to facilitate care for those who need prescription sleep products. She said many people who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep issues don’t see themselves as sick, so they don’t care to shop at DME centers that offer walkers or other medical items. REMWorks is the first DME of its kind to only offer prescription sleep products with relaxing retail merchandise.
People who already have equipment will be able to visit the store to ensure it is properly fitted for maximum effectiveness. REMWorks will accept most health insurance, including regional and national insurance carriers.
In addition to leading brand-name CPAP devices, the store will also carry an assortment of treatment options ranging from sleep masks to music and lighting solutions, soothing bedding and pillows, teas and aromatherapy sleep aids as well as white noise machines and even sleep solutions for children.
Sleep coaches will also offer education, individualized sleep plans and over-the-counter treatments for the non-medical causes for a variety of sleep issues like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, sleep terrors, sleep walking and circadian rhythm problems.
REMWorks is the first brick-and-mortar retail location conceived out of Highmark's Business Innovation and Development department, and is a for-profit subsidiary of Highmark. The Business Innovation and Development group focuses on creating growth opportunities for Highmark by developing new and innovative products, services and business models.
"We saw a market demand that was not being met, and that's what led to the development of the sleep store concept," said Paul Puopolo, Highmark vice president of Business Innovation and Development. "Through collaboration and relationship-building, we are able to develop unique concepts that bring value to Highmark and, most importantly, our customers. The lack of a good night's sleep does not just affect your mood and productivity. It also can contribute to serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and depression. That's why having a store like this is so important – and why the opening of REMWorks Sleep Store is a proud milestone for our department and the entire company." 
Source: Doug Braunsdorf, Senior Public Relations Analyst Highmark Inc., Amy Phillips, Highmark Inc.
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