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A floor plan for soon-to-open Bistro Soul on East Ohio Street. (Drawing courtesy Bistro-to-Go)
After three years in business, 60 percent of restaurants hang up their “closed” sign permanently.
After two and a half years with her doors open, Nikki Heckman’s Bistro-to-Go on East Ohio Street looks like it’ll make the cut.
In fact, with a recent real estate rotation in the works between nearby businesses, Heckman now has the chance to buy the building next to her eatery, and she plans to develop a new sister restaurant called Bistro Soul to open this summer.
Bistro Soul will be a casual dining soul food bistro, with a menu that will change seasonally. The new facility will also double as a conference venue.
Customers will be able to order in both bistros and move freely between the two buildings.
“It’ll be more like a food court,” said Ray Speicher, Heckman’s marketing director.
The building next to Bistro-to-Go, 417 East Ohio St., is currently occupied by Stedeford’s Music Shop.
Ron Stedeford is selling his building, but the music shop he’s managed for 24 years will re-open under his son’s management two doors down from its current location with a slight name change — Son of Stedeford’s.
The revamped record shop will take over the much larger space where Michelle’s clothing store has sat for the past two and a half years. Owner Michelle Salac said she’s moving her business to Bloomfield, where she plans to offer a “more conservative” wardrobe marketed toward working women.
Salac, who previously operated a clothing store Downtown for seven years, complained that the street wasn’t improving as quickly as she thought it would.
Salac said she was tired of putting up with the junkies and adolescents who have attempted to steal her products more than once.
“Maybe one day this street will be better, but right now, I can’t wait for this,” said Salac, who blamed Mayor Ravenstahl for not sticking to his pledge to clean up the street.
Salac and Heckman couldn’t agree less about the street’s future prospects.
A drawing of what the front of the new Bistro Soul restaurant will look like next to Bistro-to-Go. (Drawing courtesy Bistro-to-Go)
Alongside her grand opening this summer, Heckman plans a large-scale street celebration and is inviting other business owners to come up with ideas to attract more families to shop on the street. One idea is to serve and cook food directly on the street.
“Its purpose is to engage the community and get them to participate in what we’re doing,” Heckman said. “We’re going to create a summer to remember on East Ohio Street.”
Heckman wants Bistro Soul to help transform East Ohio Street’s image by being as locally-conscientious as possible.
“We’re trying to go green here: everything from wooden utensils to partnering with the Pittsburgh Project to grow vegetables for our kitchen,” Heckman chimed. “The coffee will be from Amani’s and the rolls will be from the Priory.”
Renovations on the old Stedeford’s building will begin soon, and pictures of the building’s makeover will appear on www.bistrosoul.com.
Heckman said Bistro Soul will create four full-time and six part-time positions.