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Tender Kitchen & Bar planned for former Arsenal Bank building in Lawrenceville

The former Arsenal Bank building in Lawrenceville may again handle tender, this time in the form of a restaurant.  The owners of Verde Mexican Kitchen in Garfield are planning a new concept for the space on Butler Street, called Tender Kitchen & Bar.

“We get the name from the building itself, as a storied institution that exchanged legal tender for many, many decades,” says owner Jeff Catalina.   “We adopted the name Tender, and are having some fun with it.”

Catalina is calling the planned eatery a “classic American cocktail lounge,” with a menu that emphasizes regional American cuisine. 

Catalina says he and wife Erin had already planned to bring multiple restaurant concepts to Pittsburgh, but that the idea for Tender was largely influenced by the historic structure. The concept adapted itself to the space, he says.

Catalina’s vision for the restaurant is Gatsby-esque, with influences from the prohibition era, and a balance of modern construction and finishes.  The building, built in 1887, currently retains many original details, and 14-and-a-half foot ceilings. 

The restaurant will seat between 90 and 100 guests.  Moss Architects, who were also responsible for the design of Verde, will work with the Catalina’s again at Tender. 

The menu will borrow dishes from regional styles across America, such as pierogis from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati Chili, San Francisco sourdoughs, Maine lobster rolls, and a playful take on MoonPies from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

As for drinks, Catalina says he envisions Tender filling the classic cocktail void left by the closing of Embury in 2011. The bar will feature homemade soft drinks, bitters, infusions, and syrups.

Pending zoning approvals and the purchase of a liquor license, Catalina says the restaurant could be open by December.  The restaurant will be open for dinner six days a week.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Jeff Catalina
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