Arby’s venison sandwich was a runaway hit last year and so the fast-food chain is offering it nationwide beginning on Saturday.
Richard DeShantz will get back to his haute cuisine roots when he opens a new French-style bistro in Lawrenceville this fall.
The prolific Pittsburgh restaurateur hasn’t settled on a name for the spot, which will be his fifth restaurant in his current portfolio when it opens — he also has another three in development — and his first outside of the Golden Triangle in years. It will be in the former Tamari space at 3519 Butler St., right in the thick of a dining murderer’s row that includes Piccolo Forno, Morcilla and Umami, among others. Mr. DeShantz said that he took possession of the space on Monday.
“We have the concept — we’re doing bistro — we’ve wanted to do it for a long time,” he said noting that it will have an extensive French wine selection.
“People think I’m insane,” Mr. DeShantz said of his ambitious plans. “It’s not that I’m going to be spread thin. These guys that have been with me coming up the ranks — it’s time for me to put the spotlight on the guys who made me what I am today.”
Mr. DeShantz’s very first endeavor was a French-style bakery, Cafe Richard in the Strip District. That was followed by Nine on Nine, which had a heavily French-influenced menu Downtown. He’s no longer affiliated with them. Since then he’s embraced modern American at his flagship Meat & Potatoes and at Butcher and the Rye, as well as gourmet tacos at Tako and barbecue at Pork & Beans, all in the heart of the Cultural District.
He anticipates the project will be completed quickly as the concept was already under development and the building is already up to code. Most of the changes will be cosmetic. The menu will be simple rustic French cuisine, and the restaurant’s centerpiece will be a large island kitchen and range, such that diners feel like they’re “at my house. [We’re] cooking you dinner in a really comfortable environment.”
Despite the popularity of his restaurants, Mr. DeShantz has thus far resisted the temptation to franchise any of them, instead creating a unique concept with each new place.
“We aren’t opening because we want to take over the world,” he said. “It would be easier to open a Meat & Potatoes in the South Hills for example. It’s a proven thing — but it’s owned by two individuals [he and business partner Tolga Sevdik]. It’s not a corporate chain. As a business man I should take that and run with it, but as an artist I want to keep creating and do something new and exciting,” he said.
“I really like the process of development and design, from the website to the business cards, to the plates to what the wait staff wears, and to bring something cool to the city That’s what drives us; that’s what makes me excited. It’s fun to keep creating.”
Dan Gigler: email@example.com; Twitter @gigs412.