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My Big Fat Greek Gyro to open in Market Square with a special design

Another new restaurant is opening in Market Square.  My Big Fat Greek Gyro, a franchise of the Peters Township original, plans to be open in the former Mix-Stirs building at 431 Market Street by the end of this year.

Co-owner Kathleen Kamouyerou-Ference says Market Square is currently a thriving location, and was the motivating factor for choosing downtown for their newest location.

Michael Ference says the eatery will be semi-fast and semi-casual.  Renovations to the building will including taking the existing windows down to floor level.  Those windows will then be able to open to sidewalk seating during the warmer months.

“We’re really looking forward to the springtime and getting involved with the Pittsburgh to Paris program and redoing the entire façade,” Ference says.  “It’ll be very airy, very open…I want to give it a Mediterranean feel in Pittsburgh.”

Ference says the interior will have a nightclub theme, and will be different from the traditional “ma and pa gyro” store.  The design will be unique to their Market Square location, including 70 inch flat-screen televisions for ordering and menus, WiFi, and color-changing LED bars and counters.

Indovina Associates Architects will design the façade renovations, along with Craig Cozza.

Sandwiches include gyros, grilled chicken, sirloan steak, and souvlaki (marinated pork shish kebob).  The menu also features a variety of salads and soups; sides like spanikopita, tyropita, grape leaves; and homemade baklava, rice puddings, and other sweets.

My Big Fat Green Gyro has four other franchise locations, in White Oak, Wexford, Cranberry, and Mt Lebanon.  

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Kathleen Kamouyerou-Ference, Micheal Ference

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza to open two Pittsburgh locations

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a restaurant which boasts NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino among its partners, opened one of two new locations in the Pittsburgh region this past weekend.  The new restaurant is  located at 1801 Settlers Ridge Drive in Robinson Township, across from the Cinemark movie theater.

Marino, a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Oakland, and the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement that for years he has wanted to bring Anthony’s to his hometown.  “It’s a thrill for me to open our first restaurant in the city I love,” he said.

Anthony’s uses 800-degree anthracite coal-burning ovens to make traditional pizzas, as well as specialty pies including roasted cauliflower, meatballs and ricotta, broccoli rabe and sausage, and Philly Cheesesteak pizzas.

Manager John Mowod says the intense heat of the coal-fired ovens locks in the flavors or a particular ingredient, and that everything at Anthony’s is prepared in those ovens.

“It’s a way of cooking that preserves the freshness of the food,” Mowod says.

Anthony’s also features what it terms “Italian Soul Food,” including coal-oven-roasted chicken wings with caramelized onions, pork ribs with vinegar peppers, and home-style meatballs.  And a dish called Eggplant Marino, which is billed as “Dan’s favorite.”

With the Robinson opening, there are now 30 Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza restaurants, with locations in Florida and throughout the Northeast.  A second Pittsburgh-area location is scheduled to open in Monroeville in 2012.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.  412-787-3434.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Ashley Rodriguez; John Mowod

Livable communities expert Dan Burden on Avalon's Lincoln Blvd. Goal? 100% destination.

Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, conducted a workshop in Avalon on Monday about the benefits of walkable communities. The goal of the workshop is to begin reinventing Lincoln Avenue, the Main Street of Avalon and Bellevue, as a “100% destination,” serving all people of all ages.

Burden cites benefits of walkable communities as being healthier, happier places, where business districts statistically perform better economically.

“Walkable and livable communities are really the foundation for the next economy” where jobs are now going to be centered, Burden says.

Burden also says young people are increasingly finding desirable places to live first and then looking for jobs, in contrast to previous generations.

After a day of walking in the community, Burden says Bellevue and Avalon, the two communities studied, have an incredible stock of houses and apartments, good street grids, and are situated near a great city.

The workshop provided multiple examples of communities that have transformed their streets from auto-centric and dangerous to welcoming environments with a real sense of place.  Focus areas for improvement include transit, crossings, gateways, trees, creating place, and curb extensions.

Based on input from residents and others taking part, the workshop will produce a report on existing conditions, and will outline strategic action steps that can be taken to make Bellevue and Avalon into what Burden calls, “a real model for what other neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area can become.”

The event was fully sponsored by the AARP of Pennsylvania.  AARP representative Kelly Altmire says a top priority of members is being able to age in place, and stay in their homes and communities.

Burden says when people are forced out of a neighborhood, for any reason, they tend not to live very long, or to not live very healthy.

“There’s an awareness that building livable, walkable places is not only good for the economy, it’s good for health, and good for everyone’s well-being,” Burden says.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Dan Burden; Kelly Altmire

Lululemon Athletica opens in Shadyside

Lululemon Athletica, a hip, yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, opened in Shadyside last Friday. The retailer makes clothing designed for yoga, running, dancing, and other sweat-inducing activities. The opening celebration included a series of in-store yoga classes taught by Darcy Lyle and Jesse Bueno.

The company chose to open a store in Pittsburgh because it’s an active, healthy community, and a good fit for the Lululemon brand and stores, says spokesperson Tracy Keough.

The fabrics used by Lululemon are wicking, which means they pull moisture away from the skin, spreading evenly throughout the fabric and evaporating quickly.  Keough says the clothes are built by athletes for athletes, using feedback focusing on fit, function and technical performance.

Designs are available for both men and women. Keough says the fabric blends are not only good for athletic pursuits, but they’re beautiful too.

Lululemon was founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson, a Vancouver veteran of the surf, skate, and snowboard business.  According to company lore, Wilson wanted to design a technical athletic fabric that was more appropriate for yoga than common cotton fabrics.  The designs he developed were successful, and sparked an “underground yoga clothing movement.”

Keough says her company seeks to create authentic relationships in communities, and is grassroots focused.  The Shadyside store hopes to be a local source for information on yoga, running, fitness, health and goal-setting.

Located at 5518 Walnut Street, in Shadyside, Lululemon Athelitca is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  412-687-3592.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Tracy Keough

Love Your Block projects complete, next round in spring

Mayor Ravenstahl’s first round of neighborhood Love Your Block projects have come to an end.  Rebecca Delphia, chief service officer in the mayor’s office, says 47 blocks were impacted by the program, with 5,800 pounds of littler collected, over 660 individual volunteers, and 3,000 hours of service.  

The neighborhood projects were also able to leverage a combined total of $7,000 in additional resources, through cash or in-kind donations.

A total of 11 projects took place in different neighborhoods throughout  the city, and included improvements to basketball and tennis courts, establishing community gardens, and the creation of a pop-up café in front of a vacant storefront in Morningside.

“They’ve been diverse and they’ve been specialized to fit the needs of that particular community,” Delphia says.

Last Friday, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School celebrated enhancements to their athletic field, funded in part by the program’s $500 grant, marking the end to their fall project.

And the final Love Your Block celebration in 2011 will take place on November 11th, when the West End Village will hold a Veterans’ Day Celebration, unveiling enhancements to the Veterans monument located in front of the Carnegie Library on 47 Wabash Street.

Delphia says these projects are a good start for city-wide revitalization efforts.

“This is another tool that's now available for communities that have been doing this work for a very long time, to move their visions forward,” Delphia says.

Applications for the Spring 2012 Love Your Block projects will be released in the early part of next year.  


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Rebecca Delphia

The Beauty Shoppe coworking space to have open house Friday, East Liberty

The Beauty Shoppe, a new innovative coworking space, is now open in East Liberty.  Located at 6014 Penn Avenue, the Shoppe will have an open house this Friday as part of the Unblurred Gallery Crawl.  

Matthew Ciccone, one of the Shoppe’s creators, says his team wanted to offer an office space in the most flexible, scalable way possible, to allow startups and entrepreneurs a good experience while taking that first, often difficult step into business.

The space is approximately 4,000 square feet, and is located on the second floor of a building in the center of East Liberty.  The Shoppe offers tenants high speed network access, shared conference rooms, and a kitchen, among other amenities.  Additionally each tenant, or member, gets a dedicated desk and chair, secure access to the building 24/7/365, webcasting  and video conferencing facilities, and a physical mailing address.

But membership rates and sizes vary, and can change from month to month.

“We’re slowly and always thinking about ways to add to the space,” Ciccone says.  “When we first opened up, we tried to keep it pretty Spartan…so that we could always add in terms of responding to what users actually required, rather than having to speculate around it.”

The project is a collaboration between East Liberty Development, Inc, Ciccone, Thinktiv, and Jenn Bee Designs.

Ciccone says his team set their base lease at roughly the cost of three cappuccinos a day, about nine dollars, which is what a coffee-shop freelancer might expect to pay.

“We can offer you a full, nice office experience with the full suite of office infrastructure, and at a price point that is about the same as Starbucks,” Ciccone says.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Matthew Ciccone

The Mattress Factory to expand with new exhibit space

A rowhouse and adjacent lot on Sampsonia Way will soon become The Mattress Factory's third exhibit space in the Northside.  

Because the Mattress Factory is an installation museum, where artists stay and work in-house, much of the gallery space can be unavailable for periods of time.  But with the new gallery spaces, museum spokesperson Lindsay O'Leary says, “there will always be something new for the public to see.”

The 1890 Victorian home, located at 516 Sampsonia Way,  was most recently an installation by Ruth Stanford titled Dwelling Home.  As part of that exhibit, the home’s windows were replaced with gravestone-like markers that listed the former occupants of the home.  Those markers will remain on site, but will be removed from the facade.

In addition to the rowhouse, an adjacent lot will be used for both education and performance programs, and outside installations.  Sota Construction will lead the renovation work, which will be done using environmentally friendly and energy-saving practices.

The Mattress Factory’s main exhibit space, located at 500 Sampsonia Way, was founded in 1977.  A second exhibit space, at 1414 Monterey Street, reuses a former storefront and upstairs home.  O'Leary says the museum is conscious of the surrounding Victorian neighborhood, and tries to keep facades similar to what they were originally.

“We don't ever tear anything down,” O’Leary says.  “We just rehab it so we can use it again in a different way.”

The officially groundbreaking will take place on Thursday,  November 10th, at 10 a.m., and is free and open to the public.  412-231-3169.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Lindsay O’Leary


Pittsburgh Dance Center to open in Bloomfield, largest in city

Beginning November 1st Bloomfield’s former Plaza Theater will become the home of the new Pittsburgh Dance Center, a 5,000-square-foot dance studio.  But for those eager to move, this Saturday and Sunday the center will be open for special Halloween themed Salsa, Tango, and Ballroom dance parties.

“It’s a really fun time of the year, and it's kind of fun to dress up and be silly, and dance,” says  Holly Dayton-Kirby, owner of the Pittsburgh Dance Center.

The dance center, located at 4765 Liberty Avenue, will be open seven days a week.  Adult lessons will begin at 7 p.m., and offerings include Ballroom, Tango, Bachata, Salsa, and Swing.  Each evening, lessons will be followed by a dance party for attendees.

And after school youth programming is scheduled for Monday through Friday, featuring Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Modern styles, as well as Zumba and yoga.

Located on the second floor of the former theater, Dayton-Kirby says she was lucky to inherit the theater’s ceiling, which retains original bass trapping properties along with beautiful craftsmanship.

“This theater ceiling is making it Acoustic Heaven in a way,” she says.

Dayton-Kirby was born and raised in Bloomfield, and says opening this center is an effort to give back to the community where she was raised.  She hopes to be able to offer scholarships for youth with an interest in dance, and will be competitively priced.

“Some people don’t dance because they can't afford it, and that's not fair,” Dayton-Kirby says.  “I lucked out as a kid and got a lot of scholarship based on my talent.  If that wasn't available I wouldn't be dancing today.”

Until the end of the year, all lessons will be offered on a drop-in basis; youth lessons $5, adults $10.  


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Holly Dayton-Kirby

Spaces Corners bookshop opens in Lawrenceville, showcases small press photo books

Spaces Corners, a bookshop, gallery, and project space, opened last week in Lawrenceville’s Ice House studios.  The 425-square-foot shop is focused primarily on photography, with an emphasis on photo books published by independent presses.  An opening celebration will be held on November 4th.

Melissa Catanese, who owns and operates the shop, moved back to Pittsburgh this past spring after spending several years in New York City.  She had only lived in Pittsburgh for one year previously, but the city made an impression on her as a place supportive of experimentation.  This type of support isn’t widely available in other cities, she says.

“There’s a lot of opportunity, lots of grants for artists, lots of available space.  Everything about it right now” is supportive, notes Catanese.  “You have room to breathe and to be able to realize the dream that you have.”

Catanese says she wanted to share the phenomena of photography through the photo book with Pittsburgh because there wasn’t anything like Spaces Corners.  The shop is sponsored in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The books featured at Space Corners are published in small numbers, usually between 500 and 1,000 copies in an edition.  And many of the books aren’t available through online retailers like Amazon, Catanese says.  In addition to photography, the shop also features artists’ books, zines, and monographs.

The open house celebration on November 4th will feature refreshments, and an exhibition of work by local photographer Ed Panar.  Panar’s photo book, Animals That Saw Me, will be published in November by The Ice Plant, a small press in Los Angeles, followed by a book signing at Spaces Corners.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Melissa Catanese

Columbus Square ribbon cutting in Manchester; new homes completed

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held  last Thursday for the Columbus Square development in Manchester, a project five years in the making.  Despite wind and rain, community members turned out to tour the project’s first completed home, and to hear remarks from project developers and community leaders.

Linda Nelson, chair of the Manchester Citizens Corporation, said this development will anchor the north-eastern section of the neighborhood, adding valuable housing diversity to the community.  Nelson says her organization is also extremely proud of the cost-saving, energy features included in these homes.

“Because we value sustainability and we understand that it is necessarily for communities like ours to grow and prosper,” Nelson said.

Currently, five homes are finished or near completion.  Project developer Fourth River Development LLC will continue the build-out based on pre-sales, with plans to construct a total of 31 new homes.

The featured model unit contains four bedrooms, a first-floor den or study, three and one-half baths, and is offered at a base price of $255,000.  Two of the five homes have been pre-sold, with prices beginning at $179,000.

The redevelopment project has also resulted in the reopening of Juniata Street to Fulton Street, which had formerly dead-ended into a cul-de-sac.

A ten year tax abatement program is offered as an incentive to potential homebuyers.  Mayor Luke Ravenstahl called this a tremendous incentive, and said he was happy to have it available in Manchester, targeted by his administration as a Neighborhood Growth Zone.

Columbus Square is built on the former American Electric site, which had been vacant and empty for nearly 20 years.  Fourth River Development LLC’s other notable redevelopment projects in Pittsburgh include Washington’s Landing and Summerset at Frick Park. 


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Fourth River Development LLC

Diamond Market Bar and Grill opens downtown; American cookery with a side of history

While entirely new, the Diamond Market Bar and Grill is packed to the brim with local history. Owned by partners Nick Nicholas and Jim Patrinos, of Primanti Bros. fame, the restaurant opened recently in Market Square.

Diamond is a reference to an earlier name for Market Square, the Diamond, and to a former restaurant, the Diamond Market Lunchroom.

The interior hints at Art Deco, while warm woods are used throughout. As the menu says, it’s an attempt to bring back the classic American tavern. Like the black and white photographs covering the walls and the retro signage, the food and drink at Diamond Market also harkens to the past.

Manager Becca Woodworth calls the concept an American Cookery, where classic dishes are given modern twists. That includes updated versions of Turkey Devonshire, liver and onions, three-cheese macaroni and cheese with truffle oil, and deviled eggs with homemade pepper sauce. The menu is large, and includes 11 types of burgers (including a veggie), sliders, salads, and more.

"We try to really have something for every walk of life," Woodworth says.

The bar has the most draft selections in Market Square, including beers from East End Brewery and other seasonal brews among their 24 options. Cocktails include the Incline Car and the Ginger Collins.

After Las Vellas caught fire last year, the first-floor space, where Diamond Market is now located, needed to be gutted and completely rebuilt. As Woodworth explains it, so much work had to be done, the partners who own the building decided to put in the extra effort and create a new restaurant for that space.

Diamond Market Bar and Grill, located at 430 Market Street, is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 412-325-2000.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Becca Woodworth

Grandview Bakery and Sweet Shop opens in Mount Washington

Grandview Bakery and Sweet Shop opened last week in Mount Washington, with hopes of becoming a one-stop-shop destination for all things baking. Owned by Vickie Pisowicz, the bakery offers artisan breads, cakes, chocolate and candy.

The shop fills a retail/service gap in the community, as identified by residents nearly two years ago.  The Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation polled residents on what type of business they felt was lacking in the neighborhood, and a bakery was the overwhelming response.  In their monthly newsletter, the organization put out a call to entrepreneurs, looking for someone interested in opening a bakery.

Pisowicz answered that call, not only as a Mount Washington resident, but an experienced baker who at that moment was looking to open her own shop.

"We now have a beautiful bakery that filled in a niche in our business mix," says Greg Panza, program manager for the MWCDC.

The offerings at Grandview are extensive.  Breads include baguettes, challah, focaccia; pumpkin, cranberry orange, and banana nut quick breads; cinnamon spice, banana pecan, and chocolate chip muffins; coconut macaroons, pies, cookies, croissants, and more.

Panza say his organization worked with Pisowicz and the Urban Redevelopment Authority in the URA’s Best Fit and Storefront Renovation Programs (SRP).  The Best Fit program pairs entrepreneurs with architects to locate which buildings match the spatial needs of a future business, and the SRP provides matching funds for façade improvements.

Grandview Bakery and Sweet Shop, located at 225 Shiloh Street, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m; Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  412-251-0811.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Greg Panza

Sinobi 2 Go opens in Market Square, take-out sushi

Sinobi 2 Go celebrated a grand opening in Market Square on Monday.  The new take-out eatery offers sushi, teriyaki, and introduces a new creation, the Asia dog--an all beef frank topped with traditional Asian foods.

Sinobi 2 Go is part of the Sinobi restaurant group, which includes the Sinobi HQ restaurant, sushi bar and teriyaki, at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Tarentum, PA.  The Market Square eatery is the company’s first take-out establishment.

According to manager Selina Kim, the Asia dogs are Sinobi’s attempt to introduce diverse flavors alongside foods that are more familiar in Pittsburgh.  Different toppings include Korean barbecue brisket, minced chili pork, and Korean-style chicken salad.  All dogs are finished with kimchi—a spicy, pickled cabbage dish popular in Korea.  Asia dogs are $3.00 each, or two for $5.00.

Homemade sauces include Chungyang chili, zinger, curry, orange mayo, and teriyaki.  And a variety of Korean drinks are also available at the Market Square location.

Kim says sushi is prepared fresh throughout the day, and include the California roll, yellowtail roll, salmon roll, tuna roll, and the bulgogi roll--beef brisket marinated in Korean barbecue sauce.  Prices range from $6.00 to $9.50.  Seaweed and squid salads, as well as kimchi, are available as sides.

Chef Imsub Lee created the Market Square menu, and is executive chef for all other Sinobi restaurants as well.

Located at 436 Market Square, Sinobi 2 Go is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed on Sundays.  412-251-5510.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Selina Kim

Bar Marco, European-style eatery and wine bar, coming to Strip District

Bar Marco, a new European-style eatery and wine bar planned for the Strip District, held an "Under Construction" party last Friday with live music, art exhibits, and complimentary food and drinks.  The event offered a brief taste of what is to come from Bar Marcos, as well as the work to be done.

Owned by four childhood friends—Justin Steel, Michael Kreha, Kevin Cox, and Bobby Fry—the Greensburg-Salem High School graduates hope to create a warm and lively atmosphere influenced by the wine bars of Italy and Spain.

“It should be a real community centered space, with lots of conversation when you come in,” vinyl records playing, and hearty street food, Fry says.

Menu items will include what Fry calls Bar Marco’s specialty, arancini—fried rice balls, often stuffed with mozzarella cheese—sausage and meatballs over polenta, fresh roasted vegetable salads, and paninis.  Fry says the eatery will source from Strip District and Pittsburgh vendors, including Parma Sausage and the Crested Duck Charcuterie. 

The bar will replace the Firehouse Lounge, and Embry, in the former No. 7 Engine Co. building.  Renovations for the new space include the removal of partitions and the tented deck which had been constructed on the building's eastern wall. In place of the deck, Fry says a cast-iron courtyard is planned, to feature grapevines, an herb garden, and outdoor seating.

Fry and Kreha have both recently returned to Pittsburgh from New York City.  The two friends had considered opening a wine store in that city, but encouraged by the rapidly expanding food scene in Pittsburgh, decided to start a business here instead.

Fry says each partner brings a different skill set to the project.  Kreha, who has worked as a designer and architect, is designer and general contractor for the building’s renovations.  Cox and Fry will both have management roles, as well as kitchen and bartending duties.  And Steel will be the restaurants chef.

The group plans to open the first floor of Bar Marco by mid-November.  For more information call Bobby Fry: 724-875-2738.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Bobby Fry

Aspinwall Marina purchased by community, Friends of the Riverfront, to become park

The Aspinwall Marina was officially purchased by Friends of the Riverfront last week, and will become a community riverfront park and trail extension.  Since last November, the non-profit organization has been working on behalf of community residents who spearheaded the effort, raising $2.3 million to purchase the marina.

Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront, says this entire process has been a community effort, and he looks forward to moving “aggressively forward with fundraising for the development and build-out” of the new park.

“And as part of that process we're going to be reaching out to not just Aspinwall community, but all the surrounding community to talk about what can be and what will be part of the park,” Baxter says. “There will be a lot of opportunity for public involvement.”

The marina will be converted into a mixed-use parcel, and will feature an extension of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. 
 
Susan Crookston, who created the initial business plan last year, says the Aspinwall marina will now become “the community treasure that it was intended to be.”  She says the rapid rate of fundraising, done in just over six months, has been an incredible experience. 

“It's just been a kind of miracle, and just a testimony to the power of an idea and the power of the generosity of our community,” Crookston says.

Friends of the Riverfront signed an agreement of sale on the marina in January, and fundraising for the purchase began immediately after. Those efforts included t-shirt sales, parades, various parties, and major gifts from private donors. Two young Boy Scouts collected over $15,000 by mowing lawns, and a young girl delivered $144 after a month of lemonade stands.

“This would have never ever happened without all the people taking the ownership and making it happen,” Crookston says.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Thomas Baxter; Susan Crookston
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