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Try Vinyasa flow or the Grape Vine this summer in Market Square

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Lululemon recently launched Yoga in the Square, a free yoga practice which will be held every Sunday in Market Square throughout the summer. The series kicked off Sun., June 1.
 
“Yoga in the Square is a unique, new and healthy way to experience downtown,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the PDP. “We look forward to many yoga practitioners from around the city enjoying the urban oasis that is Market Square. We hope following practice, visitors will stick around and enjoy brunch and a great Bloody Mary at one of downtown’s delicious brunch venues.”
 
Each week, a different yoga instructor will lead the class geared toward yogis of all levels — from beginner to expert. Teachers from studios throughout the city will offer people the opportunity to sample a variety of yoga experiences.
 
Leigh White, PDP vice president of marketing and communications says Market Square offers myriad events, including those like Yoga in the Square that promote health. She says the yoga series is intended to get people active and downtown.

“We are really encouraging people [of all yoga levels] to come down and give it a try,” she says, calling herself a “yoga novice” who herself will be trying something new.
 
The inaugural practice was led by Wendy Foster Elliot of Salt Power Yoga last Sunday and Dezza Pastor of the Yoga Hive will teach the session this Sun., June 7.
 
The hour-long yoga session begins at 10AM and will occur every Sunday through August 24. Yoga will be dependent upon weather. Lululemon and the PDP will provide notification by 8AM on Sundays with weather cancellations listed on the event Facebook page and on the PDP social media outlets, www.facebook.com/DowntownPittsburgh and Twitter @downtownpitt.
 
White says the PDP is also excited about the program because it gives residents the opportunity to start their Sundays downtown. She adds that she hopes Yoga in the Square can become part of a Sunday morning ritual.
 
However, if you're more into cutting a rug than hitting the yoga mat, Market Square is also hosting Dancing in the Square every Friday afternoon throughout June from 5PM to 7PM
 
The PDP and the Pittsburgh Chapter of USA Dance have partnered to bring ballroom dancing to Market Square. Dancing in the Square will feature free ballroom dancing instruction, as well as performances by students and professionals from local dance studios.
 
Similar to Yoga in the Square, Dancing in the Square will rotate instructors and feature various styles of dance. In addition to traditional ballroom dances, favorite group dances such as the Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle will be taught and danced each week.
 
This Fri., June 6, instructor Chris Drum with DJ Brian Lee, will kick off the series. Performances by the Chris Drum Dance Team and USA Dance Pittsburgh Youth from the Woodland Hills High School Youth Program will follow the class.
 
“USA Dance is happy to share the excitement of dance in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. There will be dance lessons in Market Square, along with performances by Yes, You Can Dance!, Woodland Hills School Youth Program and Embrace Dance [Project] — designed for amputees with prosthetics,” says Ramona Corey, of USA Dance Pittsburgh.
 

Source: The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Leigh White

Rustbuilt and Citiparks team up to bring Squirrel Hill its first farmers market

The new Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market debuted in the parking lot that runs from Bartlett Street to Beacon Street — directly behind the old Gulliftys — last weekend on Sun., June 1.
 
City Councilman Corey O’Connor cut the ribbon Sunday, marking the official opening of Squirrel Hill’s first farmers market and Citiparks’ first weekend farmers market.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is a unique partnership between Citiparks and RustBuilt, a nonprofit working to nurture next-generation entrepreneurship and innovation in Pittsburgh and throughout the Rust Belt.
 
Nearly a thousand people wandered through, according to Alec Rieger, executive director at RustBuilt. He said vendors were almost completely sold out by noon — and the market runs from 9AM to 1PM
 
“I would say it was a really big success,” Rieger says. 
 
Featuring more than 20 vendors, Rieger says produce and food products “run the gamut.” He says the market offers high end organic food, mixed organics, prepared food, cheese, meat, baked goods, Italian ice, artisan vinegar and, he joked, no market would be complete without kettle corn.
 
“Meaningful public health and environmental arguments aside, this market is both a community development and economic development initiative, with the overarching goal of leveraging the neighborhood’s human capital, in order to create greater communal connection, cohesiveness, and commerce in Squirrel Hill and beyond,” says Rieger about the event.
 
He adds that the market fosters public health, environmental consciousness and, most importantly, community. Rieger says he hopes the market is a space where one does “not just grab your broccoli and go.” He says he wants people and families to sit and stay awhile. 
 
To create a neighborhood atmosphere, the market will begin hosting music as early as this weekend and hopes to have crafts and activities for children in the future.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is also partnering with local social service agencies to provide market access to nearby homebound elderly and will accept EBT and FMNP vouchers.
 
The market will be open from 9AM to 1PM every Sunday through the end of November.
 
Source: Alec Rieger, RustBuilt

Mayor Peduto launches initiative to bolster immigration

Last week, Mayor William Peduto launched Welcoming Pittsburgh, an effort to improve quality of life and economic prosperity for immigrants and native-born residents alike.
 
Peduto announced the program Wed., May 28, with more than 100 community leaders in attendance at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. The initiative is part of Welcoming America, a national and grassroots-driven collaborative that promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.

The ceremony included community leaders who spoke to their own immigrant stories and performances by Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and local, Latin American music group Bésame.

Through Welcoming Pittsburgh, the city will support efforts such as resettling refugees eager to build new homes in the city; working with organizations including the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Global Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh to support efforts that keep international students in the city; reviving its Sister Cities program with the help of the World Affairs Council; and supporting job growth of all kinds, from small businesses to manufacturing to high-tech.

“Pittsburgh has long been home to generations of immigrants — it drew my family here and so many others — but there is much more we can do, especially in supporting business opportunities and innovation among all our residents, old and new. While we celebrate our immigrant past, we need to build on a welcoming future,” Peduto says.

Studies show Pittsburgh lags behind most peer cities in net immigration, yet the immigrants it does host are among the highest-educated in the nation. As of early 2013, the city had more than 1,300 Bhutanese, nearly 500 Burmese, almost 200 Iraqi and more than 260 Somali citizens who resettled in Pittsburgh. The landscape is also changing for the region’s Latinos — across the county, there are 24,000 Hispanics, most of which live in the city.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and speakers at the Welcoming Pittsburgh event talked about the Global Great Lakes conference coming to the city June 12, and a regional Puerto Rico outreach strategy that includes a concert by El Gran Combo on June 22. Both are free events and open to the public.

“It was our great honor to host Mayor Peduto’s kickoff of Welcoming Pittsburgh,” says CEED Executive Director Rufus Idris. “As an immigrant from Nigeria and someone who works directly with this population, I see firsthand every day the numerous contributions the immigrant community is making in Pittsburgh through innovative startups and new business ventures.”

The city is currently taking applications for those seeking to join a Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council to contribute to the rollout the effort’s implementation plan and set key initiatives. Policies will be shaped with the guidance of this core team. The Council will also be tapped to lead a listening tour to engage community members every step of the way. 

Those interested in joining the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council may apply at: http://pittsburghpa.gov/personnel/jobs/pittsburgh_advisory_council.  The application will remain open until June 20.
 

Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto
 

4th Annual Community Development Summit held downtown

“In Detroit and across the country, we look to Pittsburgh for hope,” Detroit native and Local Initiatives Support Corporation Vice President, Anika Goss-Foster, remarked at the reception of Pittsburgh's 4th Annual Community Development Summit.

About 600 community leaders from Pennsylvania and surrounding states convened in the grandeur of the Omni William Penn Hotel to learn about and discuss community development this week. The two day event centered on the theme of “Reaching Across Boundaries” and aimed to break down jurisdictional, sectoral and interpersonal barriers for the betterment of the community.

The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) partnered with the Urban Land Institute to host the summit. PNC Bank has been the title sponsor of the summit for the past three years.

Participants were able to engage with different concepts of community development through mobile workshops, breakout sessions, keynote speakers and networking events.

For instance, one breakout session featured a panel of entrepreneurs and community planners who focused on the relationship between creativity and community development.

Janera Solomon, the Executive Director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, emphasized the importance of making culture and creativity an integral part of everyday life and taking a more thoughtful approach at utilizing creativity.

In another workshop, developers and engineers exhibited the value of integrating industrial land use into community development and addressed the challenges that accompany ventures such as zoning, physical development and feasibility issues.

Katie Hale, the Neighborhood Policy Manager of PCRG, says that the summit is about celebration and optimism. The event aims to inspire and motivate participants to make positive changes themselves.

“We want participants to leave with a tenacity to go into their communities or neighborhoods and think outside of the box and collaborate,” Hale says.

According to her, the mobile workshops mix fun with hands on experience and allow leaders to learn about their neighbors while witnessing young people making things happen in Pittsburgh.

During the event, PCRG hosted an award ceremony that recognized community leaders. The Ballfield Farm, a community farm in Perry Hilltop, was among the award recipients in the “homegrown” category. The farm has brought fresh produce to Perry Hilltop and also runs an ecology program to educate children on the process of growing food.

Joanna Deming, a member of the summit planning committee and a board member of PCRG, volunteers at Ballfield Farm with her husband.

“I submitted Ballfield Farm because I feel like it’s a little known gem on the North Side where people are working hard and benefiting from their experience in many different ways,” Deming says.

Deming says that the Community Development Summit gives Pittsburgh positive exposure.

“It’s meant to attract people from different cities and different states so one of the things it does is raise the profile of Pittsburgh,” she says.

In addition, the PCRG annually gives a Neighborhood Leader Award in memory of Bob O’Connor. This year, Reverend Tim Smith, the executive director of Center of Life, received the award for his devotion to the community of Hazelwood.

On Thursday, participants enjoyed both a breakfast and lunch keynote. During breakfast, Shelley Poticha, the director of the Natural Resources Defence Council's Urban Solutions Program, emphasized the need for environmental and community goals to converge.

"People are aware that we can actually intervene. We can make a change," Poticha says.

David Rusk, the former mayor of Albuquerque, presented the lunch keynote. He spoke of the benefits of less fragmented or “big box” states in comparison to Pennsylvania’s current “little box” make up and proposed a plan for more communal action.

Mayor Bill Peduto presented a speech before the breakfast keynote on Thursday morning and moderated a panel of experts entitled “Shaping the Cities of Tomorrow” later in the day.

Hale says that though the Community Development Summit has received gracious remarks from public officials in the past, this is the first time this caliber of public official was so actively engaged in the event.

Aggie Brose, the chair of the PCRG board, praised Mayor Peduto before his speech.

"We are very fortunate to have a leader with so much vision and optimism in our mayor," Brose says.

Mayor Peduto spoke of the importance of advancing all of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods through the revitalization of housing and business districts.

"Every community and every community group has the ability to get it done," Peduto says.

New brewery opens in Braddock

A new brewery is opening in Braddock, Wednesday. Two Carnegie Mellon grads are the brain children behind The Brew Gentlemen, opening in the former Halco Electric Supply store at 512 Braddock Ave. Matt Katase and Asa Foster created their first beer in the garage of their fraternity house and have been working toward this day ever since.

"We were both kinda unsure about pursuing careers on the tracts we were on," says Katase, originally of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. "Beer seemed like a happy medium that allowed us to wear multiple hats. So far, no two days have been the same."

Since 2010, Katase and Foster have poured all of their time and resources into creating both a brewery and a tap room to brew and sell their beer. They both changed their majors, Katase from math to operations research and entrepreneurship and Foster from art to digital media and fabrication. Katase took an independent study and worked with a mentor to build The Brew Gentlemen business plan.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $32,118, they were off to the races, building their brewery and perfecting their recipes with their own four hands.

They chose to open their brewery in Braddock because they loved the energy of the small city and could see its potential.

"Intially when we were writing the business plan and working on all of that our entrepreneurship professor made us choose three potential locations," Katase says. "Braddock was kind of an afterthought. Asa mentioned it because he had taken a class called Mapping Braddock and spent a lot of time down here and was drawn to the energy. In senior year we spent a morning walking around and after that, it had to be in Braddock."

That first beer, brewed back in 2010 is called White Sky, a wheat beer brewed with chai tea spices. They jokingly call it their "year round seasonal," because it evokes a different seasonal sense memory for everyone who tastes it. They've gone on to produce several beers with clever, regional names such as General Braddock.

In Feb. of this year they hired master brewer Brandon Capps who has chops from working as an Anheuser Busch/InBev
systems and processes engineer.

And what about the name?

"It started as kind of a joke," Katase says. "Both Asa and I were in the same frat, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the frat motto is 'The true gentlemen.' After trying our beer one of our other friends joked and called us 'the brew gentleman.'"

Tomorrow beginning at 4PM The Brew Gentlemen are holding their grand opening, where they'll sell growlers and pints and the mac n' cheese food truck, Mac and Gold, as well as Street Foods will be on hand for grub.

Source: The Brew Gentlemen, Matt Katase.

Throwback Thursday: Dome sweet dome

Have family or friends coming to visit Pittsburgh? Don’t have the space to put them up? Recommend a stay in Pittsburgh’s “Igloo,” available on airbnb.com.
 
“Is it a spaceship? A yurt? A tent? No, it's a Yaca-Dome! And it's not just any old Yaca-Dome. It's the original Yaca-Dome! But we just call it ‘The Igloo,’” the airbnb profile for the states.
 
But, what is a Yaca-Dome?
 
According to the lodging website, the home was built in 1969 by Pittsburgh native Joseph Yacoboni, who received a US Patent in 1975 for the construction method. Yacoboni had a vision that the design would be the way of the future. 
 
This original Olivant Place dome in the Lincoln–Lemington–Belmar neighborhood was Yacoboni’s private home, according to a 2010 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article also claims that a tree once grew in the center of the circular dome. 
 
The airbnb page explains that the house was designed to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. “Not something we here in the 'Burgh normally have to worry about,” the listing reassures. This innovative design was featured in the January 1975 issue of Popular Science.
 
Yacoboni and his wife Carmel moved to Florida and built more Yaca-Domes. His personal website discusses his vision of utilizing the design for emergency buildings, panels on space stations, pop-up shelter for the homeless and a community of domes.
 
Yacoboni passed away in 2011 at the age of 89; and though his designs may not have made it to the moon, Pittsburgh still boasts first Yaca-Dome.
 
The igloo has had many visitors. The airbnb profile has more than a dozen positive reviews from those pleased with their stay in the three bedroom, 1,250 square foot home.  One reviewer called it “a gem.”
 
Another review praised, “We love our dome away from home.”
 
Source: airbnb.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, josephyacoboni.com
 

Market Square Farmers Market opens Thursday with flower bulb giveaway

The Market Square Farmers Market returns on Thurs., May 15, for its 10th season. Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the market features more than 30 vendors selling locally grown produce, plants and small batch foods.
 
To kick off the season, The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will give away thousands of tulip and daffodil bulbs at the reopening of the market. The bulbs will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of two-dozen bulbs — they are anticipated to run out fast, according to the PDP.
 
“We have been so pleased with the success and growth of the Farmers Market, making it one of the best attended and most diverse markets in the region,” says Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “The market ushers in spring for so many people, bringing excellent produce, fantastic entertainment and sunny days.”
 
In addition to vendors, the market features free, weekly entertainment, including performances from a variety of local festivals and groups such as the Pittsburgh Blues Festival and the Pittsburgh Opera. Singer-songwriter Joel Lindsey, will kick-off this performance series Thursday, with a set from 11:30AM to 1:30PM.
 
The market will occur each Thursday from 10AM to 2PM. and will run through Oct. 30. New this year, the streets surrounding Market Square will be closed to through traffic during the market, starting at 8AM each Thursday.
 
To keep up with the schedule and other details, please follow Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership @DowntownPitt or visit www.downtownpittsburgh.com/.
 
Source: the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Pittsburgh Public Market to open shared commercial kitchen this summer

The Market Kitchen at the Pittsburgh Public Market, a shared-use commercial kitchen, is set to open this summer.  Located on the campus of the Public Market in the Strip District, The Market Kitchen will be available to both market vendors and local chefs.
 
Kelly James recently came on as the kitchen manager for The Market Kitchen and addressed a group last week at a Farm to Table lunch and learn focusing on small business development. Many attending the event were interested in learning about the shared, commercial kitchen.
 
“I come here, to this project, as a chef,” James said to the group.
 
She shared her own experience of opening and running the Sugar Café in Dormont. Though the business closed, James says she learned how to help other entrepreneurs navigate the competitive food industry and consider other business models — instead of the traditional, and costly, brick-and-mortar store.
 
“I get to help other people in small businesses avoid the pitfalls,” she says.
 
The Market Kitchen is an economical way for startups to begin their business. James says that by having a space that provides a state-of-the-art kitchen — and is up to code ­­­­— entrepreneurs have the opportunity to start small, get noticed and grow into a shop. 
 
“We’re a nonprofit, so we are here to help people start,” James says.
 
She says a yearly membership of $100 and a $17.50 hourly rate for use of the kitchen — a nominal price compared to most new business costs — will provide Market Kitchen members with the opportunity to utilize the space and have access to Public Market customers. Members can schedule to access the kitchen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 
This access to the Public Market is flexible. For extra costs, one could become a vendor; or, it could be as simple as providing samples to market patrons for product exposure.
 
James says she began accepting applications for the kitchen last week. Applicants must be businesses with proper food safety certifications. Fledgling and seasoned chefs are both welcome to apply, and those getting in on the ground floor will have priority, first-come, first-serve kitchen scheduling.
 
“Whether you are just starting out on the path or looking to expand and grow your food business, our goal is to provide you a service that is economically superior to building or leasing your own commercial facility. We offer a unique direct line to success with access to a retail space to sell and market your product within Pittsburgh Public Market. Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District is a perfect place to spread your wings,” the Public Market’s website states.

In addition to entrepreneurs, James says caterers, food truck owners, cart vendors, established restaurants seeking more space, bakers and personal chefs may find the kitchen attractive for its professional appliances and secured storage.
After this kitchen is completed, the market may build a second kitchen. James calls this demo-kitchen “phase two.” She says this installation will provide opportunities for cooking classes and events.
 
The Market Kitchen is expected to be open July 1, 2014, or a few weeks earlier in June. She invites those interested to follow construction progress on the Public Market’s website.

Source: Kelly James, the Pittsburgh Public Market

Creamery now offering locally made ice cream in the Public Market

Last month, Family Farms Creamery in the Pittsburgh Public Market used their local dairy products and other ingredients from the market, or the Strip District, to whip up something new — locally crafted ice cream.
 
Larry Neskey, Family Farms manager and ice cream maker, and Family Farms owner Nathan Holmes explain that their creamery is sourced by a family of local farms that process their own yogurt, cheese and milk.
 
Their ice cream is made with these ingredients and the products from a veritable Strip District scavenger hunt. Neskey says the creamery strives to “source as locally as possible.”
 
The fig balsamic flavor is made with balsamic from The Olive Tap, which sells gourmet olive oils in the Public Market. Blackberry swirl is the fruit of Clarion River Organics. Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip’s product is present in the chocolate ice cream and other flavors with chocolate chips and chunks. Penzeys Spices’ peppermint was used to create the peppermint chip.
 
These flavors aren’t your usual ice cream options. Even the vanilla isn’t plain.
 
Staple flavor, Landlocked Vanilla Bean, was crafted by creating a vanilla extract with Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked spirit — the distillery’s interpretation of rum. Family Farms has also carried a whiskey peach flavor using Wigle’s product.
 
“I like to look at it like a microbrewery,” Neskey says about playing with flavors. He added that there will be certain flavors like the Landlocked Vanilla always on tap, but other experimental flavors will cycle through.
 
Speaking of beer, East End Brewing Co., also a vendor in the Public Market, can be found in the creamery’s Black Strap Stout ice cream.
 
Neskey and Holmes say they focus on using local ingredients and trying to be creative. They are currently playing with goat cheese and bleu cheese ice cream recipes and other flavors requested by customers — they took suggestions from patrons when they launched the ice cream.
 
If you aren’t into ice cream, that’s OK. The Public Market location has a dairy-free sorbet available.
 
The ice cream is currently available $6.00 a pint, or by the scoop at the Public Market and Sewickley Farmer’s Market. Neskey and Holmes say their ice cream will be available this summer at other markets where Family Farms is a vendor, Market Square Farmers Market, the market at Phipps Conservatory and Southside Farmers Market.
 
Source: Family Farms Creamery, Larry Neskey, Nathan Holmes

UPMC East to become newest site for UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

Construction began last week on a new, 20-bed UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC East in Monroeville. It will mark the first Rehabilitation Institute location in Pittsburgh’s east-northeast corridor, complementing the current east-southeast location at UPMC McKeesport and several western locations in the region. 
 
The facility will mark the ninth UPMC Rehabilitation Institute location as part of the system’s in-hospital network that provides specialized inpatient care for people needing physical, occupational and speech therapy after strokes or brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, hip and knee replacements, various surgeries and other conditions. 
 
Peter Hurh, M.D., specialist in inpatient rehabilitation and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will serve as the medical director of the new UPMC East location.
 
He explains that those utilizing the rehabilitation center require three or more hours of therapy daily — in addition to nursing care.
 
“Geographically speaking, this [location] fills a void,” Hurh says.
 
He added that the new location creates convenient care for residents of the region’s eastern neighborhoods like Monroeville and Plum.
 
“We are meeting a community need, in the area where our patients live,” says Mark Sevco, president of UPMC East. “It’s very exciting for us to open this in the eastern suburbs under the inpatient care of the Rehabilitation Institute. Utilizing existing space in a hospital that is very much in growth mode, just short of celebrating its second birthday, is a positive step for us.“
 
Not only is it convenient for patients, but for the friends and family visiting and assisting them.
 
“We encourage family and friends … to become involved with the care,” Hurh says.
 
UPMC East recently was accredited by the independent joint commission as a primary stroke center. Stroke patients are expected to be among those receiving care at its new Rehabilitation Institute. 
 
With UPMC East as the emergency hospital for stroke, the new rehabilitation wing will allow the center to offer medical services and therapy for stroke victims all in one place.
 
This Rehabilitation Institute will bring at least 15 new hires to the community, among them full-time nurses, therapists, care managers, liaisons and more, according to UPMC. 

Construction is considered to be relatively simple, and the renovated wing is scheduled to open July 1, 2014 on UPMC East’s sixth floor, East Wing. The primary focus of the work will entail the transformation of the waiting room, known as The Wedge, into a therapy gym. A multi-purpose room also will become the Activities for Daily Living unit. Also, patients will have private rooms.

Source: UPMC, Peter Hurh, Mark Sevco

PGH and CLE face off in the National Bike Challenge

Last year, Pittsburgh rallied 1,515 riders to pedal 738,000 miles to victory against Cleveland in the Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes, as part of the National Bike Challenge.  
 
“The National Bike Challenge is a nationwide event uniting thousands of current bicyclists,” according to nationalbikechallenge.org.  “It is a free and easy way to challenge yourself, colleagues and the greater community to ride more. Users compete on a local, state and national level. The Challenge aims to unite 50,000 riders to pedal 30 million miles from May 1, 2014 until September 30, 2014.” 
 
So, as of last week, the competition was on.
 
“This year, we’re going to register 1,750 riders, pedal 800,000 miles and keep the Rust Belt Champion Trophy on our turf,” Bike PGH’s website boasts.
 
According to Bike PGH’s profile on nationalbikechallenge.org, Pittsburgh already has more than 650 riders, clocking in at more than 13,000 miles in defense of the Rust Belt victory. 
 
In addition to riders and mileage, the page also tracks Pittsburgh’s total calories burned, dollars saved and pounds of CO2 conserved.
 
Bike PGH calls the National Bike Challenge a fun, friendly, free challenge that encourages Pittsburghers to get out and ride bikes — whether it’s for fun, to commute, stay healthy or save money and emissions. They invite more Pittsburghers to register as bikers in the competition against CLE.
 
Riders who participate in the National Bike Challenge also have the opportunity to partake in the Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe’s Pedal for Pints n’ Pop Program. For each medal you earn — personal mileage milestones are marked on the card and designated as medals — you can present your Pedal for Pints Card for a free pint of soda or suds.
 
Bike PGH advises Pittsburghers to make the competition local in the race against CLE. The site suggests riding solo, with a team, or your workplace in a match against another office.
 
The PGH vs. CLE race, along with the national campaign, will go throughout the summer and close September 30.

Locals create Indiegogo campaign to save Bloomfield sandwich shop

Mama Ros’ Sandwich Shop customers have taken to Indiegogo.com, a crowdfunding website, to help the local business known for helping others.
 
When Jonathan Tai and Jon Potter grabbed lunch at Mama Ros’ (also known as The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop), the two men ended up making new friends and leaving with a mission.
 
While eating at Mama Ros,’ Tai and Potter met the Mama and the Papa themselves, Rosalyn Dukes and her partner Mike Miller. In a video on the Indiegogo page, Tai states, “Just as in Game of Thrones, the winter has been long and hard, and now they need our help.”
 
Tai added in a phone call that the winter business was slow and the shop is in need of a boost to help with operating costs.
 
He said the restaurant has a reputation for wanting to feed everyone, even those who can’t always afford it. And, this campaign can help Dukes and Miller continue to do just that.
 
In the video, Tai introduces the shop’s famous Thanksgiving meals.
 
“We try every year, as best we can, to serve as many people as we can a free Thanksgiving dinner,” Dukes says.
 
She added that patrons are welcome to eat in the diner or they can take the traditional turkey dinner home with them. Last November, Mama Ros’ served more than 200 Thanksgiving meals — using 15, 20-pound turkeys.
 
“It’s for everybody,” Miller adds. “College kids that can’t come home. People that have families who just can’t, right now, afford to have a good turkey dinner.”
 
This spirit is what led Tai and Potter to volunteer to create the online fundraiser and lend their professional services as prizes for donating to the campaign.  
 
Tai is a magician and Potter is a paraglider. Ten $100 donors can receive a 20-minute magic performance from Tai. Potter is giving away paragliding lessons to ten $150 donors. Yes, Potter is the Pittsburgh paraglider who made news for his goal to paraglide off the Seven Wonders of the World — including Machu Picchu.
 
Tai said local response has been great so far and he noted that Pittsburgh rallied behind the restaurant after a fire a couple of years ago. He said people know the shop and have continued to support it.
 
“It’s about so much more than just food. It’s about community,” he says.
 
 
Source: Jonathan Tai, Indiegogo “Saving Mama Ros' Sandwich Shop”

Burgatory continues ravenous growth with third location in West Homestead, more to follow.

Burgatory, a hometown burger joint, opened a new location at The Waterfront on Sat., April 26 in West Homestead. This is the local chain's third full service restaurant — Burgatory also hosts a burger and shake stand in the Consol Energy Center.
 
Burgatory opened its doors in Waterworks in January 2011 and their second restaurant opened about a year and a half later in Robinson in fall 2012. Burgatory marketing director Meredith Hanley said the chain is already vying for the next location, or two.
 
“We have a couple of other locations in the works now,” she said.  “We’re definitely growing.”
 
A big part of the chain's growth has been the involvement of commercial real estate guru Herky Pollock, a vice president at CBRE.

"We are in a position to go national," Pollock told the Post-Gazette in a Nov. 2013 article. "The restaurant has legs to grow a broader distance than we dreamed."

Part of the restaurant's allure is the ability to build your own burger, picking everything from the meat to the rub to the bun. Burgatory also won the national A1 Burger Bracket for the second year in a row earlier this month.

The Burgatory website currently notes that a Murrysville joint in the Blue Spruce Shoppes is “coming soon.” Hanley said this fourth location is set to open in the fall.
 
The West Homestead site was selected like Burgatory’s other spots for being a high traffic area. Hanley noted the new eatery at 299 West Bridge St. is near a movie theater in The Waterfront open-air shopping center.
 
To celebrate The Waterfront grand opening, Burgatory partnered with another West Homestead business, Nancy B’s Bakery, to create a shake with the bake shop’s award winning chocolate chip cookies.  The special shake was available at all Burgatory locations over the weekend.
 
Source: Burgatory, Meredith Hanley

Mellon Square is reopening after a $10 million spring cleaning

More than 3,500 daffodils are emerging from planters in Mellon Square, heralding the imminent completion of a three-year, $10 million construction project to restore a historic landscape site to its original, 1950s elegance.
 
The project to rejuvenate Mellon Square in downtown was born from the efforts of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh with funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and BNY Mellon. Heritage Landscapes lead the design team.
 
Restoration of the space has remained true to the mid-century design of its principal creators, John Ormsbee Simonds of Simonds & Simonds and James A. Mitchell of Mitchell & Ritchey. In 1955, they completed a revolutionary concept put forth by Richard King Mellon and Mayor David Lawrence.
 
The space was developed to anchor the city’s business hub and spur economic development during Pittsburgh’s post-World War II renaissance. The project also provided a memorial to Richard King Mellon’s father, Richard B. Mellon, and his uncle, Andrew Mellon.
 
Despite efforts by the city to maintain the space, “lack of resources, time, weather, use, pigeons and vandalism took their toll on Mellon Square,” and the park began to deteriorate, according to the Parks Conservancy.
 
The damage was not just cosmetic, explains Susan Rademacher, parks curator for the Parks Conservancy. By 2007, when plans to renovate the park were initiated, the original, cold war technology was beginning to fail. Corrosion corrupted the fountain, mechanical, electric and plumbing systems were broken and some terrazzo paving had deteriorated.
 
“By the end of the 20th Century, much of the original elegance had been lost,” she says. “Our overarching goal is to bring back Mellon Square as an urban oasis.”
 
New features from the restoration include the Interpretive Wall — telling the story of Mellon Square and its relationship to the Mellon family — and the construction of an elevated terrace overlooking Smithfield Street based on an original concept by Simonds and Mitchell. New lighting has also been installed for nighttime viewing and to set off plantings and architectural features.
 
“Mellon Square was created to be a refreshing oasis in the heart of the city, and throughout our restoration process we have carefully honored the legacy and intent of its visionaries,” says Parks Conservancy President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Cheever. “Visitors will see the grand Central Fountain once again animating the square with choreographed water displays pouring into its nine, 3,500-pound bronze basins, each of which has been repatinated. The signature terrazzo paving has been repaired, and people at street level will see the Cascade Fountain spilling its way through basins along Oliver and Smithfield.”
 
A $4 million permanent investment fund has been established as part of the $10 million project for long-term maintenance of the Square. This, together with an agreement with the city giving the Parks Conservancy a significant role in the ongoing management and maintenance of the space, will help to ensure that the restored Mellon Square will endure.
 
Rademacher said the park is meant to serve those living and working in downtown. She noted that the space was intended to be enjoyed two ways, looking below from a towering office or “looking up.” She said the panorama from the Square creates a view of Pittsburgh’s iconic architectural drama.

The rededication and grand reopening of Mellon Square will be Wed., May 28 and Thurs., May 29.  A cocktail reception is planned for the evening of May 28. The public celebration on May 29 will also kickoff the Thursdays at noon summer jazz series in the square.
 
Source: Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory, Susan Rademacher, Ellis Communications

Throwback Thursday: The Church Brew Works

For more than 17 years, The Church Brew Works has been a Lawrenceville watering hole that attracts Pittsburghers from near and far. It’s obvious that the building was not always a brewery — in fact, that is a part of the Brew Works’ namesake and its charm and appeal.
 
St. John the Baptist Church on Liberty Avenue was built in 1902 by twin brothers Louis and Michael Beezer with John Comes as lead architect, according to Sean Casey, The Church Brew Works owner.  Beezer, Beezer and Comes were employed to design the church, rectory, school and convent.
 
“Catholics would build [the] church first,” Casey said. “Pay [the] debt, and raise funds and build a school and convent next.”
 
He added that the rectory would be built last, St. John’s was constructed in 1923.

This team of architects were known as some of the period’s best craftsmen. They produced the church’s most loved details like the hand-painted cypress beams on the high vaulted ceiling, the intricate glass windows and the campanile.
 
St. John the Baptist survived a fire in 1915, both World Wars and the Depression. When the Diocese of Pittsburgh underwent a major reorganization in 1993, after years of declining congregations and financial constraints, the Lawrenceville church had to close its doors.
 
In 1996, The Church Brew Works revitalized the site after three years of dormancy. Casey said he was inspired to open a brewery in the space out of appreciation for its architecture and “experience having been in some legacy brewpubs in Germany that have been around for two hundred years.”
 
The legacy of St. John was considered during its transition into The Church Brew Works. Their website details the “painstaking effort” that was taken to preserve the church’s glory.
 
Mini pews were constructed from the church’s original benches for guest seating, and the excess oak from shortening the pews was used to build the bar. The original Douglas Fir floors were uncovered and restored after being hidden under plywood for decades. And, the blue apse is perhaps The Church Brew Work’s most iconic detail.  This classic altar is now the heart of the Brew Works as it houses its steel and copper tanks.

This post is part of a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings.

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source:  Sean Casey, Patty Goyke, The Church Brew Works
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