PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In neighborhoods all over the Pittsburgh-area, restaurants are struggling or just plain giving up.
However, in the midst of all of that – some are actually opening up for the first time.
That makes you scratch your head, right? How could that possibly be?
But, there it is, right in Robinson Township: Pizzeria Davide.
Even though DiAnoia’s Eatery’s flagship location in the Strip District is hurting, they’re hanging in there. Then, Aimee and Dave Anoia made the adjustments needed for the pandemic and opened a new place.
“We had the lease before COVID and it was a pretty turnkey establishment when we took it over and figured we had to move forward with it and we’re happy that we did,” David said. “There are some growing pains, obviously.”
Opening during a pandemic meant less fanfare, less pomp and circumstance, and no grand opening.
“We had to take on a whole nother element of safety with our grand opening,” Amiee said. “It’s not as welcoming to open a restaurant when you can’t have people dine in your establishment and stand around and talk, and throw a big grand opening. It had a very different feel to a typical restaurant opening.”
One of the things that could potentially harm a new restaurant during the pandemic is the 25% occupancy rule currently in place, but there’s one type of food that people don’t often eat at a restaurant – pizza.
“Luckily, it’s a pizzeria, so the nature of pizza is that people like to take it home and enjoy it at home, so we’ve opted not to open our dining room at all,” Amiee said.
The Anoias aren’t stopping at Robinson Township. Carnegie is next.
“That will hopefully open end of the year, into 2021, that was actually slated for August of this year, but that was pushed back because construction hadn’t started prior to all of this,” David said.
David said sales at their Strip District location are good and they hope for the same success in Robinson once it catches on.
Much like Pizzeria Davide, one of the ways new restaurants have been able to open is having a location leased or in the works prior to the virus hitting.
WATCH: KDKA’s John Shumway Talks With Walnut Grill Founding Partner Marc Hourvitz
For the new Walnut Grill in Bethel Park, it was a mixture of that and a little innovation.
Founding partner Marc Hourvitz said they served up the plan, finished the construction, and now they’re open.
“We have been pushing the Pittsburgh market for nearly 20 years, and especially these last five, we just look for nooks and crannies in our neighborhoods for new spots for a Walnut Grill,” Hourvitz said. “Bethel Park was sitting there just waiting for us.”
Unlike a pizzeria, Walnut Grill is a traditional, dine-in restaurant, so wouldn’t the capacity limits be a hindrance?
“We restaurant guys, we think a little differently than the rest of the world,” he said. “We found a way using our outdoor patios to get people at the restaurant to sit outside, in the fresh air, underneath covered patios, and enjoy a little more social life after months of dealing with coronavirus.”
So, what do people like Hourvitz and the Anoias know that others don’t?
“We’re not geniuses, anyone in the restaurant business will tell you it’s like a science, you keep plugging away to see what works and we’ve always been a big staple of outdoor dining,” Hourvitz said.
For many in the restaurant business, during these uncertain times, it’s about ignoring the negative, focusing on the positive, and moving full-speed ahead.