The Tin Front Cafe
is bringing vegetarian cuisine to what owner Daniel Steinitz calls a "meat and potatoes market."
Situated at 216 East Eighth Ave. in Homestead, the cozy cafe on the historic street focuses on foods that are organic and local and, most of all, meat-free. When the place opened in September 2009, the menu started as a strictly coffee shop affair (homemade baked goods, caffeination courtesy of Sacramento-based Java City), but it has since expanded into a full-on onslaught of lacto-ovo breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The menu offers simple, straightforward comfort food, and will change seasonally when more is available locally than just slush for snow cones. Current options include four-cheese macaroni, butternut squash lasagna, a mustardy herbed potato salad and an eggplant parm sandwich. And, yes, the Tin Front's got a liquor license, so beer, wine and cocktails are served, and boozy coffee creations are encouraged.
Also, the cafe will make use of its outdoor courtyard when warmer weather emerges. Steinitz and his wife, co-owner/chef Ellie Gumlock--who helped shape Kiva Han's veggie menu during her tenure there--have plans for al fresco dining and a small food garden out back, as well as a rain barrel and a living wall done by the same company that created PNC's green wall Downtown. They're also talking about doing BBQ--yes, with real, live meat--in the back for the carnivores in the midst.
The Tin Front is connected to the Annex Cookery next door, which Steinitz's mother Judith Tener-Lewis reopened in Homestead in 2004 after closing her iconic Walnut Street location in 1998. Above the cookware shop and cafe sits an impressively restored four-bedroom, two-story, 2,400-square-foot live-work space the family is hoping to rent for $1,990 a month (ideal for a visiting professor at a nearby university, Steinitz points out). The family also owns several other properties along Eighth Avenue in Homestead, including the former 5 & 10 across the street with four loft apartments currently rented at regional market value.
History is important to the community-minded family, which shows up not just in their devotion to revitalizing Homestead on their own dollar, but also in the details in those efforts. The 5 & 10's got a green roof (the first on a nationally registered historic building in the state, says Steinitz), and Tin Front Cafe features folk paintings of Pittsburgh by Peter Contis, a hefty wood bar salvaged from local landmark Chiodo's Tavern, and tables and chairs from the old Moose Lodge. Also, the tin panels--which used to be part of the ceiling where the outdoor courtyard now is--have been shaped into wall sconces and hanging light fixtures, and also wrapped around the front of the Chiodo's bar.
Sign up to receive Pop City each week.
Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Daniel Steinitz, Ellie Gumlock, Judith Tener-Lewis
Photograph copyright Caralyn Green