What comes to mind when you think of Braddock? Probably not fine dining.
That will change soon with the arrival of Chef Kevin Sousa to this once-booming part of Pittsburgh. Sousa, known for his restaurants Union Pig and Chicken, Station Street Hot Dogs and, most notably, Salt of the Earth, is opening a new restaurant in Braddock that is sure to cause a stir.
Housed in a 6000 square foot building at the corner of Eighth and Braddock, the restaurant will be called Magarac, named after Joe Magarac, who is described by Sousa as a legendary folklore hero who watched over steel industry employees since the 1930’s. The title was fitting, says Sousa, since Braddock is home to the only steel mill left in a town once almost exclusively employing steel workers.
Sousa is staying true to what he does with "a creative, modern American menu” and farm to table cuisine with an adjacent lot for harvesting local food. As part of that sustainable philosophy, he will obtain much of the meat used from a friend's farm outside of Pittsburgh.
He recognizes that this is an extremely ambitious project but is confident that it will prosper. “What we’re doing will be special enough in concept and execution that people will travel [to Braddock] for destination dining," he says. Sousa won't have far to go since he plans on moving down the street into the Ohringer Building where he will live in a loft, not yet built, with his wife and two daughters. He is receiving special funding from Heritage Community Initiatives, which owns the building for the restaurant, and will get free rent for two years.
That will allow him to do more, such as devote a subsection of the space on the side of building to “quick, casual takeout, filling different needs for the community," he says. Taking it a step farther, anyone with proof of borough residency will get a 50 percent discount. (That in turn could inspire more people to move there.)
The basement will be converted to a cocktail lounge where entrées will also be available for up to 40 people. The ground floor will host the main dining room with seating for 60. Private dining will also be available.
Magarac, which will also feature local art and craft brewing on the premises, will open sometime in 2013.
Writer: Emily Shields, Pop City intern
Source: Kevin Sousa