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June 9, 2011

New restaurant coming to Schenley Plaza

A restaurant being built by the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group in partnership with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is taking shape near the carousel at Schenley Plaza.

Although rain has slowed construction, the as-yet-unnamed restaurant is expected to open in September, said Mark Broadhurst, Eat’n Park’s director of concept development.

The neighborhood bistro-style restaurant will serve alcohol and will feature a simple seasonal menu that will include hearth oven and rotisserie items, Broadhurst said. The restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round, accommodating 150 patrons with indoor and outdoor seating. Carryout service also will be available.

Breakfast will include quick, handheld items, with brunch offerings on the weekend breakfast menu, he said. Speed also will be emphasized during the lunch hour. Customers will place their orders before being seated, but restaurant staff will serve the meals and clear the tables. Full service will be offered during dinner hours.

The restaurant is being designed to a LEED-silver level standard, although Broadhurst said it’s not been determined whether to pursue the actual LEED certification.

Natural light will dominate the side of the restaurant that faces the plaza, he said. Other “green” features such as rain barrels, rooftop herb gardens and greenery-filled “living walls” are incorporated in the design. The restaurant also will participate in composting and recycling practices typical of the restaurant group’s other locations, Broadhurst said.

Jim Griffin, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy director of facilities, said a sit-down restaurant that would add to the food service offered at four seasonal kiosks has been part of the vision for Schenley Plaza. Although alcohol will be served, drinks won’t be permitted beyond the restaurant, Griffin said.

Plans by another local restaurant group to build on the site were approved in 2006, but the proposed Atria’s restaurant never progressed to construction. Griffin said the Eat’n Park group’s concept would be a unique addition to the plaza. The fact that it’s not a “cookie-cutter, stripmall kind of concept” is attractive, as is the design, which he said coordinates well with existing plaza elements. The use of glass and cedar will complement nearby structures, he noted.

Griffin labeled the plaza a work in progress, noting that the footprint of the plaza has been extended to the area in front of the Carnegie Library and museum as well as to the space adjoining Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts building.

He cited the restoration of the Mary E. Schenley Memorial Fountain as another recent improvement, adding that repairs to the Christopher Lyman Magee Memorial Fountain near the Carnegie Library entrance are in the plaza’s future.

While the plaza’s expansive lawn is intended to be a permanent feature, Griffin said public recreation features or art someday could be added elsewhere on the plaza.

The public space is intended to serve a broad range of interests, he said, citing the diverse programming that already has included free concerts, yoga and other exercise, pogo-stick competitions, circuses, the International Children’s Festival and celebrations of Bill Mazeroski’s famed 1960 World Series home run.

Griffin said the conservancy is open to new ideas for plaza improvements and activities; public input is welcomed at

—Kimberly K. Barlow


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