Eat'n Park to open Hello Bistro near Market Square

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You've heard of a bed and breakfast. What about a bistro and boutique?

That's one man's vision for an 84-year-old building at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Wood Street, Downtown, where Eat'n Park plans to open a Hello Bistro restaurant before next spring.

The restaurant chain confirmed Monday that it had signed a 10-year lease to occupy 4,000 square feet of space in the building, which is owned by the Italian Sons and Daughters of America.

The street level space has been vacant for several years, last occupied by a convenience store.

Eat'n Park chose the location because of its proximity to Market Square and two new developments in the works -- the 33-story Tower at PNC Plaza, which will be the headquarters for PNC Financial Services Group, and the Gardens at Market Square hotel and office complex.

"We're really excited about the Downtown location, specifically because of all the revitalization that's happening in Market Square," said Becky McArdle, a spokeswoman for Eat'n Park Hospitality.

Ms. McArdle said Eat'n Park plans to sublease the street-level space it doesn't use.

And that's where the boutique could come into play.

John Valentine, executive director of the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp., said that he plans to talk to the chain about using the extra space for a clothing boutique as part of an effort to establish a women's fashion district on Wood Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

In fact, the group had hoped to secure a lease for the building before Eat'n Park landed the space.

He said surveys of boutique owners and women shoppers found that both want to see stores clustered together.

The building is adjacent to Boutique la Passerelle, a women's clothing and accessories store.

"I think it's really important that a boutique goes in there because it's part of a cluster we're shooting for Downtown," Mr. Valentine said.

He added he has had discussions with Eat'n Park about subleasing the space and that it is "open to the idea."

Asked about sharing space with a boutique, Ms. McArdle said, "We haven't decided on any tenants right now."

Eat'n Park bills Hello Bistro as a casual restaurant with a hefty soup and salad bar, grilled-to-order hamburgers and other select sandwiches.

It will be the first Hello Bistro Downtown. The first opened in Oakland last June and a second, on the South Side, will open this summer.

Eat'n Park's only restaurant Downtown right now is Six Penn Kitchen, at Penn Avenue and Sixth Street in the Cultural District.

The building Hello Bistro will occupy Downtown recently received a face-lift as part of a $4 million program designed to restore facades and improve the upper floors of buildings for residential and office use.

The renovations removed burnt-orange metal panels, a leftover from an old McDonald's restaurant that once occupied the site, to reveal a handsome limestone facade of an early modern design. The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, which supervised the work on behalf of the city, also restored the building's original windows.

"It's a great corner anchor," said Arthur Ziegler, the foundation's president.

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Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262. First Published May 20, 2013 2:45 PM


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