Outdoor patios pop up in Downtown Pittsburgh

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Yvonne McAvoy usually grabs takeout for lunch from one of the restaurants near her Verizon office Downtown -- and then heads back inside to fluorescent office lights and a break room table.

Not anymore. Today, Ms. McAvoy, 41, of Bellevue, bought her hot sausage sandwich at Wiener World and then ate outside in new Project Pop-up Patio in Strawberry Way. The alley next to Wiener World has been transformed with bright green tables and colorful chairs from Smithfield Street to Montour Way, now a patio space from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

"I've sat out here almost every day since they've had [the patio]," Ms. McAvoy said. "I would eat outside every day if I could."

The patio opened as part of Downtown Pittsburgh's Project Pop-up. Spokeswoman Leigh White said the project aims to re-energize empty storefronts and underused spaces like Strawberry Way.

"In this part of Downtown, there aren't a tremendous amount of places to sit outside and enjoy your lunch," Ms. White said. "We wanted to give people an alternative."

Local business owners like Fran Porter from Villa Reale pizzeria and Ray Auslander from Wiener World jumped at the chance for more outdoor seating during sunny summer days.

"We've been here 37 years and we've always wanted to have outdoor seating," Ms. Porter said.

Mr. Auslander said he's seen a good crowd at the tables during lunch hour this week, whether customers have a slice of pizza from his neighbor Villa Reale or a hot dog from his own store.

"We hope to see an increase of people in the area. ... This area has been kind of forgotten about," Ms. Auslander said.

But customers like Jim Fashion, 54, won't forget about this new outdoor space. Mr. Fashion, of Bloomfield, had only come Downtown to stop at the bank, but he couldn't pass up an Italian hoagie and a seat in the sun.

"I'm an outdoor guy," he said, adding that he'll be back soon. "Every chance I have."

The Pop-up Patio is in a month-long pilot stage right now, but Ms. White said she hopes to see it continue through the rest of the summer and into the early fall.

"On days as nice as today and yesterday, it's been getting great use."

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Megan Doyle: mdoyle@post-gazette.com. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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