STRIP DISTRICT (KDKA) – The Smallman Galley has turned Pittsburgh’s thriving food scene on its head.
It gives four local chefs the opportunity to open their own space, serve their own food, and grow their business.
Now, they are welcoming a brand new crop into its space in the heart of the Strip District.
When it opened 16 months ago, the concept was totally unique.
“I love it. You get to try a little bit of everything. Today, I went to two different places,” Amy Pugliano said.
It’s the brainchild of Tyler Benson and Ben Mantica. The young entrepreneurs set up four chefs to provide an amazing choice of food in one restaurant.
“I think it’s gone excellently. I think the operators who are here now have done such a fantastic job. They’ve really built a following in the community,” Benson said.
The game plan was to train the chefs to be good business people, move them out and train new ones.
Four restaurants are about to close — Josephine’s Toast, Carota Café, Provision PGH, and Aubergine Bistro.
“Now that I finally have a good understanding of how to manage my own business, I feel like now I have to leave and it’s a little bit bittersweet,” Aubergine Bistro Chef Rafael Vencio
Chef Vencio wants to focus on private parties, Carota’s Chef Lewis will help her boyfriend open a restaurant and Toast’s Chef Jacqueline Wardle hopes to reopen a breakfast and lunch café nearby.
“It’s been an incredible journey and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Wardle said.
Provision PGH is moving to Nova Place on the North Side as part of a second food hall sponsored by Benson and Mantica.
“I think we’ve done well for ourselves. From what everybody tells me, we have a pretty killer burger,” Chef Stephen Eldridge said.
The new chefs opening in June include Ryan Peter’s Burnoise, Pete Tolman’s Iron Born, Hoa Le’s Banhmilicious, and Jesse Barlass’ Colonia Cafe.
“Chefs like me who are constantly traveling around the states don’t really have the start-up capital to open up their own restaurant or the resources to, so it’s just a great opportunity for me,” Barlass said.
And the food will be different.
So while Smallman Galley will have four new chefs and four new tastes, one thing that’s not going to change is the bar.
In fact, the bar’s going to remain open during that one-week changeover time.