Merchant Oyster Company – 4129 Butler

Community Meeting, 7.19.16

Meeting Notes

Presenting: Matt Galluzzo (LC Executive Director), Dave Breingan (LU Executive Director), and Dennis Marron (chef and business owner)

Attending: Rob and Molly Stephany (property owners)

Community Announcements

National Night Out – Aug 2 at Duncan Park from 5:30 – 7:30pm

CLT Meeting with parents – 7.20.16 at the library, 6pm

Back to school bash  – August 13 at Arsenal Park, 11am-1pm

July 25 – CHP – 44th Street one lane near Post Street – 2 days due to water line

Rescheduling Patrick Ciccone from Crow Hill Development to August block watch meeting

Q: Why Crow Hill was allowed to avoid the community process? Because they needed fewer than 10 spaces so were able to be processed by zoning staff rather than a ZBA hearing.

Matt explained ground rules for community meetings. LC and LU have been discussing potential tenants with property owners for years, recently Stephanys found tenant for 42nd and Butler. Now tenant is applying for a liquor license, so they’re attending this community meeting to present plans.

Dennis Marron – Presentation

4129 Butler: Merchant Oyster Co.

Moved to Pittsburgh 3.5 years ago to open Hotel Monaco, was executive chef at the Commoner and has been working in Stallman Galley. He is a Lawrenceville resident and has realized Pittsburgh is missing Northeastern influence in its food scene. He’s spent 25 years in restaurant business so far, in every role from dishwasher to chef. He would like to bring casual, welcoming upbeat seafood dining to Pittsburgh. Plans for the new restaurant include a large first floor and mezzanine level. Bar along first floor that will turn into kitchen; oyster bar will be along the front. Menu: chowders, raw oysters, raw mussels, some steamed oysters and clams, some casual food from Jersey Shore.

Bar: craft cocktail selection, white wines and champagne, a few taps, mostly local. Oyster stout made locally – Roundabout and/or Hop Farm. Upstairs bar as well with conservas, which are preserved appetizers from Portugal and Spain.

3 bathrooms onsite.

Recycling of oyster shells to an oyster conservation system. He will only be using farmed oysters, which will add to the oyster beds over time – Hudson or Chesapeake.

Wind power will be used for all energy; stormwater plantings outside; will compost to a local farm.

Facilitated Q & A

Mary: what will the capacity be?

Dennis: 58-person capacity. Mostly communal seating. Rocking chair lounge. Some outdoor seating.

Ron: parking is an issue for the whole neighborhood.

Dennis: Will be adding bike racks outside to encourage cycling.

Molly Stephany: many people are using ride share programs more than last year. 

Councilwoman Gross: It’s important that we watch rates of people using ride share and how it impacts parking; people from other neighborhoods are now relying on this to visit Lawrenceville more than they used to. Also we’re still waiting for dynamic pricing to come to Butler Street, based on demand, to keep some percentage of spaces open. Important to consider tweaking RPP when residential neighborhood are immediately adjacent to business districts.

Rob Stephany: is it a quick stop or destination dinner place?

Dennis: would like to see a mix, of some people stopping for a drink or a couple of oysters on their way elsewhere, some staying for a dinner.

Dave: Will it be kid-friendly?

Amber: Where will oysters be sourced from?

Dennis: only cold water oysters, Chesapeake and upwards, but no Canadian seafood. Some from France. They are shipped live. Samuel’s seafood in NY has a new hub in pittsburgh by the airport so they will come from there. Euclid Fish out of Cleveland will be used as well.

Resident: What will the hours be?

Dennis: Lunch at 11am, 11pm or 12pm Friday and Saturday, Sunday brunch only – 11am-6pm

Rob: Opening date?

Dennis: October 31 is the plan.

Resident: where will you advertise?

Dennis: I want to promote in the neighborhood firstly. Because there aren’t other oyster places in Pittsburgh, of course there will be people from all over the city.

Resident: What will the outdoor seating plan be?

Dennis: I just met with Public Works today to discuss. Sidewalk is extended in  bump out. Will add a couple tables down 42nd side. Trees and plants within bump out. 2 trees plus stormwater plants along 42nd, one tree on Butler.

Dave: how will waste be stored onsite?

Dennis: Containers in courtyard, not alleyway. Would like to use post office parking spaces. Has reached out but not gotten a response yet.

Mary: where will deliveries be made?

Dennis: Will push for Butler Street because it causes traffic issues.

Matt: delivery patterns should be discussed for all the surrounding restaurants as there are a lot of issues caused by constant deliveries on narrow streets.

Rob: how many employees?

Dennis: probably 15 total. 5-6 at a time. Many do live in Lawrenceville so won’t have to park anywhere.

Mary: employees taking breaks – where will they go?

Dennis: There’s a courtyard shared between several properties there.

Matt: break areas are a continued conversation with LC/employers as to where they should go.

Resident: plans for live music?

Dennis: no plans for it currently. Upstairs could be private dining room, which may host an acoustic guitar night. No plans for amplified sound.

Mary: Will there be a conditional license agreement attached?

Matt: LCB only recognizes it when the community opposes license. We can create a community agreement with Dennis but it would not have the enforcement capabilities that an official one would.

Followup Announcements

Matt: July 25 is the 6th Ward block watch – Burgh’ers at 3601 Butler.

Councilwoman Gross:  Met this week with the PA Secretary of Agriculture – growth in Lawrenceville spurs the local economy and workforce opportunities. Many people care about locally sourced-food and Lawrenceville is hosting an enormous amount of locally-owned businesses. 

Ron Deutsch: 4412 Butler project should be addressed soon.

Matt: They are coming to the next meeting. We have done many studies on parking and pushed locally for solutions.

Oliver: why can’t we install a parking garage?

Matt: They’re expensive; they cost an average of $18,000 per space. 

Dave: Contact LU if you have issues for follow up on this project.

Cory: Officer Wareham will be doing the 6th Ward Block Watch next week.

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