BikePGH!

Kevin Sousa Restaurant Kickstarter Braddock

This topic contains 87 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  Mikhail 9 mos, 3 weeks.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 88 total)
 
Author Posts
Author Posts

jonawebb

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 12:47pm #

I’d heard about this from someone with contacts in Braddock, and just now ran across the link on Twitter. Kevin Sousa is raising money for a new restaurant in Braddock. I know people here like Braddock and Kevin Sousa, so here’s the link. He’s up to about $70K out of $250K with three weeks left.
It would be great to have a good reason to ride to Braddock, instead of through.


Pierce

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 3:17pm #

That kickstarter isn’t quite right:

There’s a chicken takeout place that often has long lines down the street from his place. There’s also Bell’s Market that sells meats and vegetables and other random groceries.There’s also a farm stand on Saturdays from like May to October.

If what Kevin is saying he wants to do actually happens, great, but I’m concerned it will just be another in a growing list of examples of people from out of town moving in, bringing in what they want, what attracts the kind of people they want to attract, and doesn’t actually provide any value to residents already there. I think Kevin’s other restaurants fit squarely into that category

(edited to be less snarky)


jonawebb

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 4:00pm #

I just don’t see how Braddock ever comes back unless people start investing money in it, and they’ll only do that if they think they’re going to, eventually, make money from their investment. And given the current situation they’ll need all the government help available to get them to do it. And I can see a Kevin Sousa restaurant being enough of a draw that people would visit Braddock just to eat there, which would make it a whole lot easier for other nearby businesses to get off the ground.


Pierce

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 4:21pm #

To me, the important question is, how does the neighborhood want to “come back?” The neighborhood didn’t go anywhere. People have been living there all along. People still live there. What do you want a neighborhood to look like? What does the neighborhood want to look like?

Not everyplace has to look like Butler St in Lawrenceville, Liberty Ave in Bloomfield or Penn Ave in Garfield.

The problem (and I know very little about gentrification) is that people come in from outside of neighborhoods and insert what THEY want and what THEY think the neighborhood should look like and be. They see cheap land and buildings as a resource to be used to insert their own image of a good neighborhood and a source of profits down the road.

This attracts similar people with similar mindsets. People who like Kevin’s trendy restaurants are probably more likely to buy property around his restaurants. That’s great for Kevin, but for the low income residents who were there first, they get displaced by increasingly higher rents, can’t cover increasingly large mortgages as building prices increase, and eventually have to move further out of the city.

It’s a very United States ethos to see a space being underutilized by our own standards and then to displace the residents while claiming progress and pointing to new shiny buildings as evidence of such.

What’s wrong with a poor, working class neighborhood? We have to live somewhere and an expensive restaurant isn’t going to help us out, as far as I know


jonawebb

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 4:38pm #

Pierce wrote:People have been living there all along. People still live there.

But a lot fewer live there now. Braddock went from over 20K to under 3K now. And the people living there now are a lot poorer than the people who lived there back in its heyday.
There are ways to develop neighborhoods that don’t push the poor out. You can do mixed-income development. I think some of that is happening here in Pittsburgh.
I think that Fetterman spends a lot of time talking with Braddock residents, and he’s definitely supporting this restaurant. So that’s about as good an expression of what people there want as you could ask for.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 4:38pm #

“What does *the neighborhood* want to look like?”

Precisely. I was tempted to throw in something like, “Well, they could use a bike shop,” but even that is impressing something that I value on a set of people who may not particularly value or want one.

Getting back to something I said in a thread earlier this year, what I’d like to do is get a few people in a room, who actually live there and value the place, to figure out what they want, in what order, in what way, and on what timeline, and then try to help them get to that. And maybe some of that is to define what they do not want or value, or yeah-maybe-but-later.

It has to come from within. I just want to play catalyst, or hope that someone else does so.


reddan

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 6:34pm #

To me, the important question is, how does the neighborhood want to “come back?” The neighborhood didn’t go anywhere. People have been living there all along. People still live there. What do you want a neighborhood to look like? What does the neighborhood want to look like?

I think that is the crux of the question. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback and come up with all sorts of ideas on what “they” need…as Stu points out, the opinions of actual residents are far more valuable then theorizing from a safe distance.

Of course, by the same token, I also wonder how much value there is in second-guessing such developments, at least by those of us who don’t live there and aren’t privy to community meetings and local politics.

If Mr. Sousa is indeed working with the mayor, local businesses, and local non-profits, I find it hard, at least from a distance, to differentiate that from working with *the community.*


Jacob McCrea

Private Message

Dec 16 2013 at 8:10pm #

@Pierce, if you want to learn about gentrification and related land use issues from a legal prespective, you should study the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Kelo v. City of New London, as well as some scholarly articles that have been published in response to that decision.

If you want to see whether a real high end restaurant can gentrify a working class Pittsburgh neighborhood, ride over to Allentown and take a look at the blocks surrounding the Alla Famiglia restaurant. That is a much better restaurant that anything you will find in any of the city’s “gentrified” neighborhoods, and yet the surrounding working class neighborhood has long been – and for the foreseeable future will be – a mix of reasonably well-kept properties, run down properties and full-on blight.


jonawebb

Private Message

Jan 5 2014 at 8:24pm #

BTW, it looks like this is actually going to happen. He’s up to $215K as of this writing, with a little over a day to go.


Ahlir

Private Message

Jan 5 2014 at 8:37pm #

Any kind of economic activity is probably good, even if it’s due to the presence of a “nice” restaurant.

It will bring jobs, likely for some residents. In any case, people working there might want to live close by, maybe even fix a place up (note: waitstaff and cooks are not “gentry”). They’ll want to shop someplace convenient, like down the street. The restaurant will need suppliers, maybe even some located in the neighborhood (whose employees probably live around there). And so on.

It’s not fracking, so let’s see.


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 5 2014 at 11:48pm #

As previously mentioned, I’ve seen them working on the building all summer. I go by it five times a week on my commute. Unless they were intending to build a greenhouse on the roof and remodel an entire building just for the hell of it, the thing was going to happen either way

Ahlir, it’s a slippery slope to being Penn Ave in Garfield. When I moved here in late 2007, pretty much all that was there was Spak Bros and The Quiet Storm. (Well, that’s all that stood out to me, as a vegan) The Quiet Storm is now closed because it was essentially priced out of the neighborhood. When I first went there, there were boarded up buildings all around it. Now look at Penn Ave. Does all the crap on Penn Ave benefit people who live\lived in Garfield before 2007?

My hunch, which census data should reveal, is that the people who were in Garfield are slowly being displaced by more affluent people moving in. I don’t equate economic activity that displaces residents as good.

It’s also funny you mention fracking because I imagine the restaurant is going to be using natural gas, which is a product of fracking. Heh


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

Jan 6 2014 at 8:20am #

Braddock has a lot of empty space, and a lot of what buildings are there should be pulled down and replaced. I think we have a long way to go before gentrification becomes a problem.

btw, my sources on Facebook say they made the goal.


Ahlir

Private Message

Jan 6 2014 at 8:41am #

@Pierce:

— There is nothing wrong with economic activity per se. The issue, as always, is how the benefits get distributed (or not).

— I’m also curious about Garfield demographics. I haven’t seen much change north of Penn over the past while. In any case if you look closer it’s really, as a whole, more of a mixed community and has been all along.

— The reference to fracking had to do with how gas companies (enabled by their stooge Corbett) have been able to screw people out of their property and health, and pollute the state for the rest of us. A localvore restaurant is less likely to operate that way.


Marko82

Private Message

Jan 6 2014 at 8:51am #

I admire anyone who would take a chance on a down-and-out community, I wish him and Braddock well. But what the residents probably need is an old fashioned family style restaurant or dinner, a hardware store, 5&10, etc. Maybe if the gentrified-like establishments become successful then the more utilitarian ones will follow. I see this as a big positive.


Pseudacris

Private Message

Jan 6 2014 at 1:48pm #

^Marko, this grass-roots effort looks interesting…

http://www.freestore15104.org/#!redlantern/cyqs

http://www.popcitymedia.com/features/giselefetterman031313.aspx

The hospital closing was a hardship on many…


Jacob McCrea

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 12:08pm #

Well, it looks like the people have spoken and this ambitious endeavor is moving forward:

http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5368376-74/sousa-braddock-project#axzz2peEg01IC

From the end of the article:

“Sousa hopes to open his restaurant in early 2015. Superior Motors will embrace farm-to-table dining, utilizing produce from a two-acre urban farm one block away, a rooftop greenhouse and additional roof space to accommodate a raised-bed garden.

The restaurant will provide professional culinary training and opportunities at no cost to residents.”

I also understand, from speaking with someone who donated, that the pricing for residents will be means-based so that people who live in Braddock aren’t priced out of dining there.

Pierce wrote: … an expensive restaurant isn’t going to help us out, as far as I know

Pierce, the answer to your comment can be found above, for what that’s worth. Also, with all due respect, you might also consider the old quote from Sen. Pat Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

It will certainly be interesting to see whether this succeeds; I hope it does.


Pseudacris

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 12:14pm #

I like the sliding scale concept.
I find Sousa’s other restaurants to be expensive. OTOH, perhaps it is because he pays staff a living wage and/or benefits.
Does anyone here know if that is the case?


jonawebb

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 12:29pm #

Jacob McCrea wrote:Sen. Pat Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

It should be noted that Moynihan said that well before the invention of the Internet, which has indeed made it possible for us all to have our own facts.
The sliding scale concept sounds like one of those hippie liberal concepts that would be really hard to administer. Are Braddock residents all going to be issued income verification cards?
But in any case, I’m glad there’s now going to be a good reason to ride to Braddock.


byogman

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 1:57pm #

It’s nice to see this go forward.
Plus, he seems like a really good guy trying to do good things.

Really wish it were going to be kosher.

BEGIN RANT

At first glance, whether customers come from the community, people are employed from the community, or even if not, anything (well, excepting maybe strip joints) is better for the community than more vacant store fronts. The this doesn’t look right around here, must be creeping gentrification, must kill, instinct is really, really disturbing.

Now, I’m not so clueless as to fail to understand at least some of where it comes from. Way, way too few low income folks own and even for the few that do, property taxes post revaluation post major renewal can drive people out.

And don’t even get me started into how this economic based sorting and broken tax policy feeds into school funding, intensifying the sorting and narrowing opportunities for those who can’t pay up, thereby crystalizing class divisions indefinitely.

That’s where I wish the attention were, the underlying problems that make even good things threatening, not the good things themselves.

I’d like to think it’s at least because these problems are generally perceived as too entrenched, but my fear is rather that these are too entrenched to be generally perceived as the problem.

END RANT


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:12pm #

@Jacob
“Well, it looks like the people have spoken and this ambitious endeavor is moving forward:”

You mean the people with money who would fund this kind of thing. I wonder how many dollars came from Braddock and from how many sources

“Also, with all due respect, you might also consider the old quote from Sen. Pat Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

You mean like the fact that the video starts off by saying their isn’t a restaurant or access to fresh food in Braddock, both of which are false. Not to mention, the idea that residents are going to get fresh food from a restaurant is ludicrous. That’s like going to the ER to get aspirin. Totally cost prohibitive and wasteful.

@Pseudacris

“I also understand, from speaking with someone who donated, that the pricing for residents will be means-based so that people who live in Braddock aren’t priced out of dining there.”

For a low income neighborhood, any eating out can be considered priced out. I don’t think anybody on this board is poor enough to understand that. I also doubt many residents are going to step foot in the place, regardless of whether or not Kevin gives them charity prices. I’d like to point out again that all the things he’s saying he’ll do, he could already do at his other restaurants, but hasn’t.

I guess the location based discount is understandable, because he’s counting on either a) local people not eating there and b) the majority of patrons coming from out of the neighborhood.

@jonawebb

“But in any case, I’m glad there’s now going to be a good reason to ride to Braddock.”

There’s already plenty of reasons to ride to Braddock. We have the first Carnegie Library, which has an open ceramic lab among other things. We have the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, which is over 100 years old and produces something like 25% of the nation’s steel. We have nice people. I know my neighbors better here than in any of the other neighborhoods I’ve lived in in Pittsburgh.

But no, we don’t, as of yet, have some expensive restaurant for wealthy urbanites who like to look down upon other neighborhoods with old non-metalic, non-floor to ceiling window storefronts, and non-new buildings. But just wait a year, then you can ride in here and think you’re turning around Braddock by buying a $20 plate of something. We’re all holding our breath waiting for the opportunity for you to save us.


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:18pm #

@byogman

property taxes post revaluation post major renewal can drive people out.

That’s not actually true because our county has been fighting assessments for about two decades now. See this blog post for a more in-depth explanation:

http://pghisacity.blogspot.com/2011/01/onoratos-last-stand-on-property-tax.html

Building and rent prices drive people out far, far, far faster than taxes ever will. I’m pretty sure people are already either sitting on or actively prospectively buying property on Braddock Ave (in Braddock) in a manner similar to what has occurred on Penn Ave in Garfield


Pseudacris

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:20pm #

@Pierce,, you’ve mistakenly attributed Jacob’s statement to me…

please correct if possible…

I have mixed feelings abut the project. Mostly wondering if the higher prices are evidence of the staff making living wages.

thx


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:23pm #

@Stu
“I think we have a long way to go before gentrification becomes a problem.”

I’d point to Penn on Garfield again for a comparison. Look how fast that neighborhood has changed


jonawebb

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:25pm #

Pierce wrote:There’s already plenty of reasons to ride to Braddock.

I’ve visited the library there, so I saw that. It’s nice enough, but don’t see a reason to visit again. And it’s not like Edgar Thomson has tours.
All I’m saying is, Braddock is one way I could ride home. I’ve ridden through it a number of times. It has interesting history and public art. I’d like to spend some money there and support the neighborhood. It would be nice to call up my wife sometime and say, “Meet me in Braddock, we’ll do ____”. There’s nothing to fill in the blank.


byogman

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:48pm #

Pierce wrote:Building and rent prices drive people out far, far, far faster than taxes ever will. I’m pretty sure people are already either sitting on or actively prospectively buying property on Braddock Ave (in Braddock) in a manner similar to what has occurred on Penn Ave in Garfield

Well, on the one hand, I like optimism. And you can’t get away from supply and demand.

But to the extent building height restrictions and parking minimums contribute to a supply crunch and drive rent higher that makes us all poorer, and of course it’s the already poor who are most adversely impacted. Working against that crap is also very complementary to biking advocacy and visa versa.


edmonds59

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:48pm #

To look at this development from a positive perspective (Imagine that, me?!) – If this restaurant brings more people and activity to Braddock, crime and illegal activities are less likely to occur there, and the people who do live there become safer. Even apart from the job opportunities and positive associations that the restaurant itself will bring. It is exactly the same as – when more cyclists are on the road, all cyclists become safer.
I know very little about gentrification in Garfield, but I know that I will go there now with some level of comfort, and I would not have 10 years ago.
I am as skeptical of “developers” as anyone alive, but attempting to make sure that economically disadvantaged people have affordable housing by rejecting any economic development is the worst possible methodology.
Also, it’s not like Sousa is TGI Fridays. If I am not mistaken, he moved his family and now lives in Braddock. And Fetterman, who certainly had an infinite number of other options in life, has been trying to help Braddock from the inside out for a decade.


salty

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 2:58pm #

I have mixed feelings about it too, but I gave him some cash anyways. I think his intentions are good, but you know what they say about that… hopefully the positives will balance out the negatives. If it does develop into a culinary school, that is something the area could certainly use.

Pierce does raise a lot of good points. I used to go to the old Station Street and the hotdogs were like $1.50. Now they’re 6 or 7 bucks. Granted, it’s a different (I won’t necessarily say better) type of hotdog, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people were priced out. Why not continue to offer the plain $1.50 dog as an option? So, I’m skeptical of it being a place where local residents will go. “Nobody on this board understands” is an unfounded and misplaced assumption, though.


reddan

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:07pm #

I am as skeptical of “developers” as anyone alive, but attempting to make sure that economically disadvantaged people have affordable housing by rejecting any economic development is the worst possible methodology.

That. Not to mention the obvious point that, if the development is being done by people who actually live there, by definition it’s part of the community.

There’s a significant difference between gentrification imposed from outside, and bootstrapping coming from within.


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:23pm #

Speaking of facts, I pulled up the census data on 15224, which includes Penn Ave in Garfield, parts of Liberty Ave and Friendship

A five percentage population change is hard to notice by just looking around to Ahlir’s point, but I think my assumptions are correct. Black people have been moving out, median income has drastically increased along with the percentage of high earners. So that’s great for those high earners, but no so great for people being pushed out. This is part of a larger national trend. They’re still being poor somewhere else


byogman

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:23pm #

I can understand a certain feeling of pride in a place that’s rough around the edges. I’m even given to a little humblebrag every now and then about my adventures in very rough parts in east cleveland back when I was a poor student.

And something upscale replacing downscale, that can be pretty sad indeed. Replacing an empty storefront however? Now I know, I know what you’re saying. One can very much follow the other.

I don’t know that it’s guaranteed, but if it is, the economics of it is basically saying something I can find close mirror to in my own life. I don’t mind being some place rough myself, but as I became a family man that changed and I wound up spending money that made me frankly ill to park myself in Squirrel Hill.


But I won’t cry for yesterday. There’s an ordinary world. Somehow I have to find.

(OK, it’s a song for actual lost love, it fits well enough to the circumstance and is in my head. So there.)


Pierce

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:28pm #

When I first moved to Braddock (I actually live in North Braddock for full disclosure, which has different characteristics and almost twice the population of Braddock itself) I heard a lot of concern about how “dangerous” it was. For example, my brother was worried who lives in Glassport. But we had nearly identical crime statistics and they’re both actually lower in crime than the City of Pittsburgh on a whole. If memory serves me right, they were lower than Greenfield too, which is where I moved from


Marko82

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:28pm #

edmonds59 wrote:If this restaurant brings more people and activity to Braddock, crime and illegal activities are less likely to occur there, and the people who do live there become safer.

I’m not sure I would agree. Do you think the Southside is safer now than it was 25 years ago? How about the crime the Strip District experienced back in the late 90’s when all the clubs opened?

I go through Braddock very infrequently but I’ve always felt safe when passing through, or as safe as one can feel on empty streets with nothing open. Back in the 80’s I think it was very unsafe, but now I jokingly comment that even the drug dealers have abandoned Braddock, but to some extent I think that’s true. As with most things in this life, crime follows the money.

BTW, when my mother was a child she and my grandmother would take a streetcar from town to shop in Braddock. Apparently they had nicer dress shops than downtown Pittsburgh had in the 40’s. Even in the early 70’s Braddock had a full complement of stores and such. It’s been a long and slow decline.


jonawebb

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:49pm #

Pierce wrote:Black people have been moving out, median income has drastically increased along with the percentage of high earners… They’re still being poor somewhere else

I don’t think the data you cited support this conclusion. There’s been a decline in population, with many more blacks leaving than whites, and an increase in wealth. Does that mean that the poor have left and stayed poor, stayed and are better off, or left for better opportunities?


reddan

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 3:53pm #

I’m not sure I would agree. Do you think the Southside is safer now than it was 25 years ago? How about the crime the Strip District experienced back in the late 90?s when all the clubs opened?

That’s a good point, but I suspect you’ve got a less volatile (i.e., less likely to get drunk and stupid) target demographic for patrons of a sit-down restaurant, as opposed to the bar-n-club crowd.


Marko82

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 4:00pm #

I found this graph which is mind-numbing; a 90% decrease in population. Think about supply & demand and the value of property.


reddan

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 4:15pm #

Holy crap, Marko. That’s terrifying.

You know, your comment about supply&demand and the value of property makes me wonder; how many of the current residents own versus rent, and how many of the rental properties there are owned by residents? It would be valuable to know the answers to those questions, before jumping to any conclusions regarding the benefits or detriments of increased property values.


edmonds59

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 5:30pm #

Marko82 wrote:Do you think the Southside is safer now than it was 25 years ago? How about the crime the Strip District experienced back in the late 90?s when all the clubs opened?

Interesting question, I don’t know. I lived on the S. Side 30+- yrs ago, it was never in the condition of Braddock, it was always very residential, no hot restaurants or bars, but no empty storefronts either. Quite boring actually.
The Strip was different as well. No one lived in the currently active section, and it seemed like when the night spots opened, it instantly attracted the worst of humanity, precisely because it was perceived that no one was around who would care. Still, I’m not going off data, just perceptions. Interesting, though.


Ahlir

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 6:32pm #


the census data on 15224, which includes Penn Ave in Garfield, parts of Liberty Ave and Friendship

I pulled this up: 15224 is basically Bloomfield and Friendship, with a big chunk of Garfield though weighted to the “nice” parts (i.e. up the hill). And there’s this a bizarrely carved-out portion of the cemetery. I would hazard that the bulk of the population characteristics are accounted for by Friendship and Bloomfield and that they account for the income shifts. The specific drop in black population on the other hand is maybe not that easily accounted for.

Now, if you search for “population garfield pittsburgh” most of the discussion seems to be about de-population, certainly for the 2000-2010 difference.

The Garfield problem appears to be many people streaming out, with not that many coming in. (Yes, you get fewer rich white people per sq.ft. than poor black people; but that can’t account for all of the effect.)


Jacob McCrea

Private Message

Jan 7 2014 at 6:50pm #

^My impression is that the South Side’s current crime woes stem, in no small part, from the old Strip District’s macho, somewhat trashy and mostly fake-as-a-$3 bill party scene moving there when the Strip District clubs closed. But that’s just an impression that I have, and not one that’s based on experience.

Pierce wrote:When I first moved to Braddock (I actually live in North Braddock for full disclosure, which has different characteristics and almost twice the population of Braddock itself) I heard a lot of concern about how “dangerous” it was.

I heard the same paranoid bullshit when I bought a commercial building in Allentown, which a few commenters on this thread have visited. Four years later I haven’t been robbed, the place hasn’t been robbed, and it wasn’t robbed during the 30+ years the prior owner had the place. Also, I’d sooner expect to get robbed in the South Side or Shadyside than Braddock or Allentown. Also worth noting is that Braddock recently went 5+ years without a homicide.

I’ll try to comment further tomorrow as this is an interesting discussion. Between fixing up my own property, having a good friend who is turning a long-vacant building in Homestead into what I’d call a “blue collar” blues bar and restaurant, and having other friends renovating long-vacant commercial property down the road, these issues are familiar and interesting to me.


gg

Private Message

Jan 8 2014 at 12:38pm #

Pierce wrote:What’s wrong with a poor, working class neighborhood? We have to live somewhere and an expensive restaurant isn’t going to help us out, as far as I know

Any restaurant in any neighborhood could be a source of work. Nothing wrong with creating some jobs right in the town itself. Some may be able to walk to work. I see nothing wrong with that.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 88 total)
 

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.