Central Oakland seeing a new food boom


January is bringing a lot of new food to Oakland.

This month alone, three new restaurants have opened, with a fourth close behind. They are: Roots, Chikn, Treats and Beans, and a new Milkshake Factory location.


  • Mario’s Saloon: The venerable South Side bar and restaurant, which also has a location in Shadyside, is preparing to open on Oakland Avenue, between Fifth and Forbes.
  • Bar 3 Oakland: A sister restaurant to Bar 3 Millvale, this new spot also is in the works in the same block of Oakland Avenue.

The Milkshake Factory’s new store has not opened yet, but it’s estimated to be ready around late February or early March, and will be located in the Iroquois building on Forbes.  According to the Milkshake Factory’s PR representative, Jenny Osterman, the company has had its eye on more Pittsburgh locations, and Oakland seemed like the perfect fit.

“We’ve always had amazing support from the University students.” Osterman said.

Out of the three restaurants that have opened though, Roots seems to be getting the most attention. Although it has other locations in Virginia and Delaware, the shop on Forbes is the first one in Pennsylvania.

According to owner Alberto Namnum, Pittsburgh was chosen because, “It seemed like our food was something people wanted and was needed here.”  

Roots is marketed by Namnum as combining natural food and flavorful food to try to encourage people to eat healthy, but still enjoy the food they’re eating. Namnum said the store has been busy since it opened on Jan. 7.  

Off of Forbes, Treats and Beans is tucked away on Meyran Avenue. The small shop sells waffles, crepes and coffee, with all realms of customization. It opened up on Jan. 10 in the former Peace Love & Little Donuts shop.

There are some variations of the restaurant overseas, but this is the first location in America. The appeal for a Pittsburgh location is sweetly simple: the students.  

Chickn logo

After weeks of waiting, the most recent of the new restaurants opened on Jan. 18. Chikn is located on Forbes, right next to its sister store, Stack’d. The two share an owner, but the food is rather different. While Stack’d is known for its extravagant burger customization, Chikn doesn’t take the same route with its chicken. Their items are concise, and their customization is simple. In fact, there’s only one thing you can customize on the menu: the heat.

The heat varies so much, that according to marketing manager Samantha Barnes, they have a “no refund” policy on their hottest sauce — “Damn Hot.”

The appeal to open in Oakland was not only because of the success of Stack’d, Barnes said. “In the past two years, Oakland has become a real food destination.”  

This winter seems to be proving just that.

Sarah Gross is a junior nonfiction writing major and a contributing writer for the University Times.