Stay up-to-date on what’s coming, going, and changing in the Northside business community with The Northside Chronicle’s monthly Northside Business Briefs. This month’s briefs feature Northside Tables and Chairs, the Northside Leadership Conference’s “We Like Bikes!” Program, Little House Big Art, Yinz Coffee, Monterey Pub, Gus & Yia Yia’s, and PNC Park.
By Ashlee Green
Photo: Little House Big Art, entering its ninth year in the Northside’s Spring Hill neighborhood, is now open by appointment for lessons such as terrarium building and open studio time. Courtesy of Little House Big Art
Northside hospitality pro to expand his ‘Northside Tables and Chairs’ rental business
Lifelong Northsider Ray Ward, who launched Northside Tables and Chairs Rental Service out of his Perry Hilltop home back in November 2020, is now looking for a storage unit for his growing business.
Ward, assistant general manager at the new Comfort Inn & Suites in Historic Deutschtown, explained the goal of his new venture: to provide reliable products at a reasonable price for people who are hosting private events such as weddings, business meetings, and birthday parties.
He says the idea for the business came to him last summer, when his fiance and her friends hosted a small party and rented tables and chairs for it from a large rental company. Ward, who has been working in the hospitality industry for years, asked a lot of questions during the event’s clean up, and figured out that he could provide the same equipment for a more affordable price. He took a risk and put all of his savings into Northside Tables and Chairs: So far, it’s been paying off.
“I didn’t think Northside Tables and Chairs was going to move this quickly,” Ward says. “The amount of parties and inquiries we’ve received over the past five months has been insane.”
The heavy response has made him reevaluate his entire inventory. Initially, Ward had enough equipment to supply 50-person events. His new goal is to be able to provide equipment for parties sized for up to 100 people.
“It’s definitely a good problem,” Ward says with a laugh.
His current inventory includes plastic and wooden round and six-foot tables, tents, crystal Chiavari chairs, phoenix chairs, white wooden folding chairs, and standard metal folding chairs. He also carries both adult and children’s size throne chairs. As the business expands, Ward plans to add various new chair designs to stand out from his competition.
“Being from the Northside and helping open up the brand new hotel and launching Northside Tables and Chairs, I want the youth to look [at me and say], ‘Hey, a person from the Northside can do multiple things and have multiple incomes,” he says. “With hard work and dedication, I hope that Northside Tables and Chairs will create generational wealth for my family and also provide jobs to many Northside residents.”
Bike racks installed at six Northside businesses, growing ‘We Like Bikes!’ program
The second phase of the Northside Leadership Conference’s (NSLC) bike friendly business program is now in effect.
Thanks to grant money from the URA Neighborhood Initiatives Fund, eight standard hoop bicycle racks have been installed at six Northside small businesses: one each at Cafe on the Corner and Young Brothers Bar—both located in Marshall-Shadeland, Observatory Hill Deli in Observatory Hill, and City Fresh Pasta in Chateau; and two each at Penn Brewery in East Deutschtown and Threadbare Cider House in Spring Garden. Ongoing bike rack installments are expected to take place throughout the summer as the program expands its geography.
NSLC Main Street Assistant Jesse Descutner hopes that the enhanced cycling infrastructure will provide bicyclists with peace of mind as they visit spots throughout the Northside. Prior to this We Like Bikes! effort, Descutner explained that five of the six locations listed above had no bike parking accommodations.
“This is the official first expansion of the We Like Bikes! Program,” said Descutner. “[It] unites small business, equitable transit, and mobility. It’s a win-win-win across the board.”
“We Like Bikes!” is the bike friendly business program launched by the Northside Leadership Conference in June of 2019. An initiative of the Walk Ride Northside Bike/Ped Committee, We Like Bikes! was launched with the goal of encouraging more people to ride their bikes in the Northside while patronizing local small businesses.
Spring Hill’s Little House Big Art now open by appointment in Spring Garden
Little House Big Art, entering its ninth year in the Northside’s Spring Hill neighborhood, is now booking lessons and open studio time after a long-time partial closure due to COVID-19.
Guests are welcomed to the studio one family or household at a time and must wear masks for entry. Lessons include basic pottery wheel throwing and terrarium building. Outdoor activity spaces, camps, and events are in the works.
Little House Big Art will continue to offer gifts and customized to-go project kits for bullet journals, wood crafting, and painting your own pottery. A full list of studio lessons and kit options is available here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and for more information.
Yinz Coffee up and running on Federal Street in former Crazy Mocha
Yinz Coffee, owned by the former proprietor of Pittsburgh’s Crazy Mocha coffee shop chain, is now open at the corner of Federal Street and North Avenue in Allegheny City Central.
In addition to serving micro-roasted coffee from 19 Coffee Company, tea, and pastries from local bakeries BB&Bur Pastry Kitchen and Mediterra Bakehouse, the shop also sells Pittsburghese-inspired merchandise including whole bean coffee, t-shirts and coffee mugs. Pick-up and delivery options are available too at yinzcoffee.com.
“Pittsburghers deserve the best,” states the company’s motto. “Yinz deserve Yinz.”
Monterey Pub, longtime Mexican War Streets establishment, listed for sale
Monterey Pub, the Irish establishment located in the Northside’s historic Mexican War Streets since 2003, has listed its building and restaurant for sale.
The building, according to its BizQuest listing, consists of 1320 square feet on the first floor and a sizable two-bedroom apartment on the second and third floors. “The first floor is beautifully finished with antique carved mahogany booths, fireplaces, hardwood floors, [a] tin ceiling, and a full kitchen,” states the listing. All furniture, fixtures, and equipment are included in the pub’s $795,000 asking price: This includes a glycol draft beer system, large walk-in cooler, and eight-foot exhaust hood. An Allegheny County ‘R’ liquor license is part of the sale as well.
The pub has been recognized by Thrillist Media as one of the “best Irish bars in Pittsburgh,” where it was described as “plucked right out of Dublin and dropped in Pittsburgh.”
Gus & Yia Yia’s ice ball stand opens for the season
Nothing says spring like Gus & Yia Yia’s ice ball stand. The popular Northside landmark, parked near the tennis courts on West Ohio Street, is now open for the season.
In addition to serving flavored ice balls, Gus & Yia Yia’s, which has been run by owner Gus Kalaris since he inherited it from his father in 1951, sells popcorn and peanuts.
Since losing what he estimates to be half of his business back in 2018 due to the closure of the West Ohio Street Bridge, Kalaris’ stand has been undergoing a sort of renaissance. You can find more information about Gus & Yia Yia’s on Facebook.
PNC Park welcomes Pirates fans in limited capacity
Pirates fans, listen up: Tickets are now on sale for home games at PNC Park in a limited—approximately 25%—capacity. There are 13 home games on the schedule from May 10 to 30, 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seats are being sold in “pods” of two or four seats and fans can score discounts by buying 10 or more tickets. According to its official website, “[PNC Park] will seat…groups as close as possibly, while [sic] remaining 6’ social distance between pods.”
Three new restaurants have also been introduced to the PNC Park complex: Taps & Taco (formerly Steel Cactus), Allegheny Grille (formerly Atria’s), and Batty’s Pizzeria (formerly Slice on Broadway). Two job fairs were reportedly held at Allegheny Grille on March 31 and April 1 to recruit for the more than 100 part and full-time employees needed to staff the eateries.
For Pirates tickets inquiries, call 1-800-BUY-BUCS (1-800-289-2827) or email email@example.com.