Skinny Pete's, AJ's Inca Peruvian have closed

Written by Melissa McCart on . Closings

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Open just more than a year, Skinny Pete's Kitchen in Avalon has closed. Though the menu did not specialize in lean cuisine, "This is a bright little spot, with a stick-figure logo," wrote Post-Gazette's Munch. "It features a full breakfast menu; salads, sandwiches, pizzas and flatbreads for lunch; and beginning this week, they're making a soft entry into dinner features, and you can BYOB."

AJ's Inca Peruvian, Downtown, also has closed. The restaurant opened on Liberty Avenue in December 2012, with a menu of Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and Peruvian entrees, sides, desserts and juices.

Gretchen McKay photo

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Bridge Ten Brasserie has closed

Written by Melissa McCart on . Closings

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Bridge Ten Brasserie on the South Side has closed. And owner Dave DeSimone plans on opening a wine bar in Shadyside.

From the press release:

In July 2012, the Bridge Ten Brasserie team set out to offer an authentic French style brasserie experience to our guests from Pittsburgh and beyond. In working with passion and dedication, we have been honored to welcome guests literally from across America and from around the globe. We have learned much and adapted our cuisine, service and ambiance, and judging from you, Bridge Ten Brasserie's friends and core guests, we succeeded more often than not in fulfilling our goal.

Regrettably "succès commerciale" has proven elusive. So after much soul searching, I made the tough decision to close Bridge Ten Brasserie effective with last Saturday's service.

I would like to thank the many folks whose belief helped make Bridge Ten Brasserie a reality. The list begins with our dedicated staff in the kitchen, front of house and bar. Thank you to our vendors, professional advisers, landlord, and investors. Most of all, thank you to our loyal customers. It has been a pleasure serving you. And on a personal note, thank you to my three children and especially my son, John, who worked long hours and added much to the restaurant. Heartfelt thanks to my wife Kate for her steadfast support.

While bidding a fond farewell to Bridge Ten Brasserie, I am excited to be hard at work on another wine bar and restaurant project to be located in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood. It offers a charming, intimate dining room and bar space and includes a delightfully inviting patio and garden. Stay tuned for more details as we work towards a Spring opening.

Here's to a future of sharing good food and wine. Cheers.

Dave DeSimone

Post-Gazette photo

 

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Istanbul Grill lives

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Closings

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Istanbul Grille, the Downtown Turkish lunch joint that supposedly had its last day last month, is still open.

I walked up there this afternoon, as the Liberty Avenue spot is a favorite of mine, especially on really hot days.

The door was open, the front was full of beautiful food, and the owner Coskun "Josh" Gokalp was holding court as usual -- dishing out more than food as he joked with customers, piling extra into their foam clam shells, giving people free bottles of water out of his cooler.

All this was threatened -- is threatened -- because the 7-Eleven store next door wants to expand into his space, where his lease is up after five years.

That's still the case, Josh confirmed today. He said it's "100 percent" sure that convenience store is taking over his space, he said.

But June 28 was not his last day, as a long line of customers that day thought.

His landlord hasn't shut him down yet, and Josh says he thinks he can keep serving for "a couple of weeks" more.

Meanwhile, he continues to look at other spots Downtown where he might reopen, including the space up Liberty Avenue where Indo Asian Fusion had a short run.

His Lawrenceville Istanbul location remains closed -- he hasn't even updated the website -- as he figures out what to do about Downtown; if he finds the right space, he'll consolidate everything there.

Hanging on the walls are letters and screen-grabs of the "Save the Istanbul Grille" Facebook campaign and petition that many customers got involved with to try to keep the place where it is ("Don't take our hummus from us").

Josh says he was surprised by and appreciates the groundswell and customers' continued support.

But as I told him, I think we customers will find Istanbul Grille wherever it ends up.

The photo at the top is my go-to lunch there -- the cold plate. It's basically a scoop or two of all or most of the lovely salads they offer each weekday, and still one of the best deals Downtown. This is what they handed me yesterday; I paid $8. You can get plates starting at $7 and up to $10 if you get meat. The place only is open from about noon to 2 p.m.

That there is no menu throws new people off, as I saw yesterday.

But after two or three times, you come to embrace it.

If you missed the last day at the current spot, try to stop in for one of the remaining last days.

Istanbul Grille is at 673 Liberty Ave., Downtown; the phone is 412-325-3346.

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Bob Batz Jr. photos

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No more Sugar

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Closings

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One of the cutest, sweetest places around -- Dormont's Sugar Cafe -- has closed.

A note on the cafe's website eloquently notes "that dreams don't die, they transform," and invites the community to continue to gather at the site, on Facebook and Twitter for "for blog posts, recipes and conversation."

Pastry chef Kelly James, previously of Downtown's Sonoma Grill, opened the cafe in the heart of the Potomac Avenue business district on Feb. 18, 2011.

Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette photo

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Max & Erma's looking for new Downtown location

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Closings


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The rumors are true. Come 8 p.m. Sunday, Max & Erma's on Stanwix St., Downtown, will be closed for business.

But that doesn't mean this location of the popular casual-dining chain, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is gone for good. Rather, it just needs a new home.

According to the chain's PR firm, Brad Ritter Communication, it wasn't poor sales that led to the Golden Triangle restaurant's demise (it was really bustling today at lunchtime), but rather an expired lease. It's currently searching for a new Downtown location.maxerma1

Known for its massive "build your own" burgers and stained-glass decor, Max & Erma's got its start in 1958 when Max Visocnik and his wife, Erma, bought a neighborhood bar in Columbus, Ohio's German Village neighborhood. Expansion began after they sold it in 1972. The chain's first location in Pittsburgh, in the old Gimbles department store on Smithfield Street, opened in 1979. It relocated to Stanwix St. in the late '80s. 

Acquired by American Blue Ribbon Holdings  in 2010, the chain today has some 80 restaurants in 10 states, including eight in the Pittsburgh area (not including Downtown).

To keep up with the times, the company is investing millions locally in updates. The Monroeville location was remodeled earlier this summer and the one in Robinson reopened with an all-new look on Oct. 22. The chain's chefs also revamped the menu, though portion sizes (huge) still bring back fond memories of 1980, the year I had my first (underaged) drink there (a strawberry daquiri) while I was working a few blocks away as a waitress at Stouffer's on Penn Ave.

maxerma2New offerings include a Turkey, Avocado & Swiss Burger and the Windy City Brat Burger, which piles grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut on top of a pretzel bun with crispy onion rings and beer mustard. 

Post-Gazette photos

 
 
 

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Katerbean going another route

Written by on . Closings

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WQED producer Rick Sebak writes that he loves to start his day at Katerbean, the cozy coffee shop in his neighborhood of Regent Square. He was there Election Day morning engaged in friendly banter with its manager Jackie Goodrich, who is known for her carrot cake muffins. 

But that’s soon to change. The shop is closing at the end of November. It opened 16 years ago on the Swissvale side of Braddock Avenue and is owned by Kathy Cauley, who also owns Murphy's Taproom next door.

Discussions are under way with the owners of 61C Cafe in Squirrel Hill to open a second shop in the Katerbean spot, 61c co-owner Gary Kaboly confirmed this week.

If all goes as planned, the new place would be called 61B, the name of the Port Authority bus route that runs up and down Braddock Avenue. Mr. Kaboly, who owns 61C Cafe (also named for a bus line) with Kate Knorr, said some remodeling would be done to brighten up the place and he would hope to open in early 2013.

61C Cafe debuted at the corner Murray Avenue and Bartlett Street on April Fool’s Day in 1994 as one of the first coffee shops in Squirrel Hill. At the time, Mr. Kaboly said he had wanted to open a coffeehouse after visiting Seattle six years earlier.

Being in Regent Square also would tie Mr. Kaboly to another neighborhood love — the Regent Square Theater, one of three theaters operated by Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Mr. Kaboly is director of exhibition for Filmmakers.  It’s currently hosting the Three Rivers Film Festival through Nov. 17.

Virginia Linn is the Post-Gazette's assistant managing editor for features and enterprise.

Virginia Linn photo

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