By AMY GEORGE
2018 was a big year for Chris Driscoll.
He became IT director for the Katz Graduate School of Business in April, found out his wife was pregnant with their first child in the summer, and co-opened a restaurant in November.
Located on Bellevue’s main street, Driscoll and business partner John King’s Revival on Lincoln serves high-end American dishes and cocktails, landing it a spot on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “Standout New Restaurants for 2018.” Spearheaded by executive chef Jamie Sola, the menu features nightly specials and changes seasonally.
“(Sola) is amazing,” Driscoll said. “It will be exciting to see what he comes up with for nightly features and each season. My current favorite dishes are the Brown Butter Curry Cauliflower Salad, the Roasted Chicken, the Shrimp and Smoked Cheddar Grits and the Chocolate Bread Pudding.”
Revival’s food is not the only attention-grabber, however. The restaurant occupies a 117-year-old building that will soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 5,000-square-foot mansion first functioned as a family home from its construction in 1902 until the 1940s. Its three floors were then turned into a funeral parlor, owned by two different businesses until the 1990s when it again became a family home and later was vacant.
The building’s beautiful but time-worn architecture caught Driscoll’s eye when he moved to Bellevue in 2013, inspiring ideas about restoration and adaptive reuse.
“The wheels were put in motion for creating a restaurant about this time last year when I obtained an agreement to purchase the historic property and decided to take a chance on creating a small business,” Driscoll said. “It was in very poor condition after years of neglect.”
Fast forward to 2019, and the mansion’s transformation into an upscale dining hot-spot is complete.
Its name recalls not only the neoclassical architecture of the building, but Bellevue’s current rebirth.
“The name Revival was on my list of names from the beginning,” Driscoll said. “We held focus groups about the project and a large portion of the conversations turned to the consistent theme of unrealized potential for a fine-dining restaurant and the general Bellevue community.”
Driscoll serves on the board for the community development corporation, Bonafide Bellevue, which works to breathe new life into the 152-year-old borough. His restaurant reflects the local push for revitalization.
“The business concept was always rooted (in the idea) that (the restaurant) would serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of Bellevue,” Driscoll said. “(The town) has a lot of things going for it ... but it has missed out on the renaissance that other Pittsburgh neighborhoods ... have experienced in recent years.”
Driscoll’s project is a major part of the current boom in Bellevue’s business district, garnering fresh attention to the area.
“We have already seen jumps in property values and new businesses setting up shop on the main street since the restaurant opening was announced,” he said. “So the name speaks to the story quite literally.”
The dining destination implements forward-thinking concepts as well, like eliminating TVs from the bar and opting not to use a kitchen fryer.
Driscoll hopes Revival on Lincoln, anchored by unique dining spaces and a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio, will act as both restaurant and community center that will contribute to the revival of one of Pittsburgh’s oldest neighborhoods. It seems like he is indeed getting his wish.
“The narrative has resonated with Pittsburgh, who always loves a comeback story,” he said. “There have been over a dozen articles and two local TV news stories about Revival and I’ve only spent maybe $100 in marketing on Facebook. Most of the time a new restaurant or business does not generate that type of press.”
As a restauranteur, entrepreneur and Pitt staff member, Driscoll juggles his multiple professional roles with calculated agility.
“My role as director of IT at Katz and co-owner at Revival aren’t that different. In these leadership roles you need to be evolving, trying new things and listening to feedback, but at the same time provide consistent quality service,” he said. “There is a lot of responsibility between the two, but there are also equal opportunities for creativity, in different ways.”
All in all, you could say 2018 kept Driscoll pretty busy.
Revival on Lincoln, 366 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue, 412-223-5715 or www.revivalonlincoln.com. Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays.
Amy George is a sophomore English Literature student and a contributing writer for the University Times.