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Kevin Sousa Restaurant Kickstarter Braddock

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gg

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Jan 8 2014 at 12:48pm #

Marko82 wrote:How about the crime the Strip District experienced back in the late 90?s when all the clubs opened?

Being an old fart, I can tell you the Strip had about no crime back when there was just Metropol. As soon as that dump Whiskey Dicks moved in the area changed. Brought in the power drinkers/fighters and then the thug crowd with guns instead of people wanting to listen to music, dance and have a good time. I talked to the guy that owned Metropol and he told me as soon as Whiskey opened, it was the beginning of the end. He was right.


Vannevar

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Jan 8 2014 at 1:32pm #

jonawebb wrote: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.

Jon, I feel the same way about Braddock – interesting stuff, no “place” to go. If I may, there is Braddock Community Cafe, Mon-Thur, Noon-5pm

https://www.facebook.com/BraddockCommunityCafe

I love that place. Local, organic food, reasonable priced.

When it gets to springtime, there’s this: http://pghmurals.com/N6.cfm
Riding/walking tour of public art, with references.

Jon’s right that it is limited and NotQuiteThere. Here’s a funny sentence: It’s not as attractive and interesting as Millvale.

As Hyla noted, they have just recently opened up a quasi-FreeRide shop, the Red Lantern (invoking the Lanterne Rouge of TourDeFrance) http://www.freestore15104.org/#!redlantern/cyqs

I am fond of the place, and I think that cyclists (via the GAP trail and the Rankin Bridge) could be visitors from the outside who help, and maybe we’ll be very welcome there.


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 8 2014 at 1:37pm #

Is it too soon to think about where to locate some bike racks and a corral?


jonawebb

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Jan 8 2014 at 1:49pm #

Thanks, @Vannevar, that’s useful. And the comparison to Millvale brings to mind Jean-Marc’s, which is out of the price range of most Millvale residents, I would think, but which works very well as a point of interest and reason to visit the town. Let’s hope Sousa’s restaurant plays a similar role in Braddock.


edmonds59

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Jan 8 2014 at 1:56pm #

Just as an aside, an outfit called the “Westmoreland Heritage Trail Association” is in the process of building a trail from Saltsburg to Trafford (just a hop, skip, and jump from Braddock), and they hope to connect to the GAP at some point. There is no indication of the final route they have in mind, but I bet it sure wouldn’t hurt for folks on that side of town to get involved and drop nuggets about how freaking awesome it would be to connect to the GAP through Braddock and the Rankin Bridge. Because that would be freaking awesome. http://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/DocumentCenter/View/2632
That thought had occurred to me by way of this, which is amazing: http://vimeo.com/83038414


byogman

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Jan 8 2014 at 2:46pm #

Heck yeah. Helps some with the waterfront situation (though, grumble, rankin bridge as a crossing is 3 miles longer than using homestead grays for me).

But also, a nice way at least to get to the base of some roads climbing toward monroeville.

Also presumably would run past turtle creek, which to me, just by the way the roads converge on it, like an excellent eastern multi-modal transit hube. Possibilities abound.


Pierce

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Jan 8 2014 at 2:51pm #

I just reread and rewatched the video/kickstarter page. So it says

“Superior Motors will serve fresh, local and thoughtfully crafted food in a true urban food desert. In fact, Braddock does not have a restaurant functioning within its borders; fast food or otherwise.”

Now I don’t know if the cafe or takeout chicken place would qualify as a “restaurant” to Kevin or if the weekly farm stand (in season) or Bell’s Market help alleviate the claim of being a food desert, but none of the already established things in town were mentioned or put in their little map either.

From the Braddock Community Cafe:

“The Braddock Youth Project and Braddock Redux have created the Braddock Community Cafe which will provide healthy, local food in an area currently designated as a food desert, create more opportunities for hands on training and create a source of sustainable income for BYP. Braddock Redux will house the cafe in a reclaimed church that they have transformed into the Nyia Page Community Center and provide financial support while BYP will create menus, provide information on food issues and offer community events like family style dinners and cooking demonstrations.”

Does that not strike anybody else as odd? Perhaps it was just an oversight. To refer back to my original post, I hope the restaurant works, but am wary, and starting off by questionably interpreting what’s already here doesn’t ease my mind


Kordite

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Jan 8 2014 at 2:58pm #

I haven’t talked to anyone from the WHT recently but there was a rarely used and hoping to be abandoned line along Turtle Creek into Trafford that they were hoping to obtain. After that, there are some sections along the rest of Turtle Creek that look promising but from Wall down to the Mon River there’s a lot of industrial and active rail. Rail-with-Trail was talked about but I considered that to be more pipe dream than anything else.


reddan

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Jan 8 2014 at 3:02pm #

Generally, “restaurant” implies sit-down meals, a variety of options made to order, and a primary purpose of food service rather than alcohol service. So, McDonalds would qualify; a walk-up Dairy Queen would not; nor would a Starbucks (even though you can technically buy a sandwich or some oatmeal and sit to eat it).

Of course, I’m making this up off the top of my head…I’m not aware of any formal definitions, but that’s what pops to mind when I think “restaurant”. I suppose we could have lengthy threads devoted to discussing the differences between that, and a cafe, and a food truck, and Sheetz for that matter…


Pierce

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Jan 8 2014 at 3:28pm #

So I guess the place can be the first to offer fresh food made to order from a wide menu array. Not first to offer fresh food or depending on what the cafe has, not even first to offer items from a menu, but first to offer a wide array of items on a menu. That just doesn’t sound like the video

If the video was like “Hey, Braddock has this cool cafe (which has culinary training too), an independently owned small grocer, a chicken place and a farm stand and we’d like to add to and compliment what’s already here,” that’d be great.

But instead, the video portrays Braddock as a near ghost town and makes Kevin seem like some kind of Moses leading the people back to a prosperous Braddock. Great for getting money, not so great for speaking truth to what’s actually here


Mikhail

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Jan 8 2014 at 3:55pm #

I agree with Dan and don’t see where Kevin did not tell truth.


jonawebb

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Jan 8 2014 at 4:02pm #

@Pierce, in my experience, entrepreneurs tend to be pretty self-promotional people, and they sometimes play fast and loose with the truth. From what you’re saying, Kevin Sousa has emphasized the deficiencies of Braddock in order to get people to contribute money. But he didn’t lie. He’s not under any obligation to present a nuanced view of the current food situation in Braddock; that’s not his job.


edmonds59

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Jan 8 2014 at 4:04pm #

Fetterman runs the Braddock Youth Project, and founded Braddock Redux, which runs the Braddock Community Cafe, and he was integrally involved with the Kickstarter Project. If there was anything objectionable about the way Superior Motors is being presented, I’m more than happy to leave that up to him to comment on.


Marko82

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Jan 8 2014 at 4:17pm #

I remember that part of the discussion about UPMC closing the hospital was that it had the only lunch counter in the business district. So not only did they lose health services and jobs, but they lost any place to sit down and eat a simple meal. I love corner markets, community cafes and even the new restaurant, but I think they will still be a food desert. If a little white lie helps to move things along so be it.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Jan 8 2014 at 5:08pm #

God help anybody who tries to do anything in Braddock if this is the response it gets.

And god damn anyone who dares make a profit in doing so.

But thank that god we have Pierce to martyr himself for our sins of trying to economically improve the community.


Pierce

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Jan 8 2014 at 8:34pm #

You’re right ALMKLM, how dare I question somebody coming into a neighborhood, presenting that neighborhood in a certain light to get money, and who’s claiming he’ll do something he hasn’t achieved in any of his other restaurants

I guess just because somebody is throwing money around I should shut up and let them do whatever, because they obviously are doing what’s in the best interest of the neighborhood and the current residents. All development = progress, right?

As usual, bringing up any concerns = anti-progress. I mean heck, I must really hate the community to not be fawning all over this fantastic opportunity


reddan

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Jan 9 2014 at 6:49am #

Pierce, how many residents of Braddock are against this? I mean, there’s obviously at least a few who are for it (Fetterman, Sousa, etc.); how many people do you know, who live there, who are actively opposed to this development?


edmonds59

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Jan 9 2014 at 7:25am #

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

To step way back in the discussion, and to venture even further from anything bike related, there is nothing inherently wrong with a “poor working class neighborhood”. In fact as you said, areas like that are necessary and always will be. The problem arises when that “bracket” becomes too large of a percentage of the overall mix for the municipality to support. Vital services can’t be paid for, utilities can’t be maintained, the physical environment degrades, and the area spirals downward. Braddock. Even at the level of individual properties, it requires a certain minimum income level to keep a roof on a house, keep the siding from falling off, and keep the furnace running. Who knows, the tax bill from this restaurant alone might allow Braddock to hire another police officer or put a down payment on a fire engine, or repair a section of street.
What we need to be doing in this country is discussing and rejecting the idiot mythology that by hard work and pulling hard enough on your bootstraps, everyone can be a millionaire. That’s just stupidity from a mathematical perspective. Everyone cannot be wealthy. Through hard work, luck, and the WILLING SUPPORT OF THE REST OF SOCIETY, some people will rise and become wealthy. And there will always be people at the other end of the scale through no fault of their own. A healthy society recognizes, requires, and provides for the entire scale of humanity.


Vannevar

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Jan 9 2014 at 8:54am #

edmonds59 wrote:I bet it sure wouldn’t hurt for folks on that side of town to get involved and drop nuggets about how freaking awesome it would be to connect to the GAP through Braddock and the Rankin Bridge.

Bill, there’s a few of us advocating the “Braddock Connector”, which connects the SVT’s Whitaker Flyover Bridge to the Rankin Bridge. It’s pretty neat. I’ll pass the Trafford aspect along.


Ahlir

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Jan 9 2014 at 10:32am #

I understood that the Carrie hot metal bridge would at some point become fitted for ped / bike traffic. That would allow for these traffics to be completely separate from cars.

click me

And let’s not forget that Duck Hollow connector.


gg

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:00am #

AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:God help anybody who tries to do anything in Braddock if this is the response it gets.

And god damn anyone who dares make a profit in doing so.

But thank that god we have Pierce to martyr himself for our sins of trying to economically improve the community.

Well said. I had a look at that town and it is in shambles. Goodness. It amazes me anyone would be against a restaurant opening to at least provide some employment and a little life. Strange.


Benzo

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:14am #

I love the rankin bridge connector idea. The trick is getting people on to the sidewalks on that bridge, there is no easy way.

The damn sidewalks just end on the homestead side and put you between two lanes of traffic with no marked crosswalks. Terrible design.


gg

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:18am #

reddan wrote:Pierce, how many residents of Braddock are against this?

Probably one. lol


Ahlir

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:44am #

The P-G has a somewhat related article today.

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/01/09/Majority-of-poor-are-young-in-suburbs/stories/201401090219

Of note is the finding that transportation has a significant impact on people’s economic opportinities.


byogman

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:45am #

I don’t know if Pierce is close to alone in his hostility to this restaurant or to increasing development. Maybe, maybe not. Everyone has different preferences and that’s fine.

But you can’t take a poll of your neighbors and ask what they really want and then have that magically appear. Businesses want to make money, and that might be serving locals, or that might be serving folks from nearby but wealthier areas they can’t afford to get the space in.

And the absence of business is a collosal problem. See edmonds comment about public infrastructure, etc., etc.

And as for what is the people’s preference, again, I haven’t polled current residents, but the population graph Marko had earlier in the thread bears re-posting:

You can come up with graphs showing major population decline from industrial heyday on a lot of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, but this one isn’t just bad. It’s REALLY, REEEEEAAALY bad and continued after such factors would explain it.

To me this suggests at minimum that a lot fewer people like the way it is now than liked the way it was. I’d hazard that some folks who stuck also would prefer it that way, or at least a little more so! Also see edmonds comment about needing an economic base for public services etc. You don’t have that with everyone working class or poor and especially don’t have that when you couple with the shockingly drastic population decline.

Starting from such a tenuous point, someone coming in with cash to bring something new and different to the community (with the potential to bring in more cash, improve the image of an area, and possibly employ some locals) sounds pretty freaking awesome.

Pierce, would your opinion be different if he served some vegan items? Would like to put this to bed now.


reddan

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Jan 9 2014 at 11:51am #

reddan wrote:Pierce, how many residents of Braddock are against this?

Probably one. lol

No, Pierce lives in North Braddock.

My question was serious: is there any community opposition, offsetting the community support? As Pierce said earlier:

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’d say that is a far more important consideration; and I’d say it’s a question whose answer thus far points to support for the venture by the neighborhood.


reddan

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Jan 9 2014 at 12:19pm #

As an aside, I think there is great value in questioning things commonly taken at face value (like “all progress is good”, “greater motor traffic throughput is good”, “economic development is good”, “bike lanes are good”), so long as one’s position doesn’t become an irrational hill to die on.

I’m glad that Pierce and others raise such questions; healthy discussion requires differing points of view, held by people who don’t treat changing one’s mind as a sign of weakness or failure.


jonawebb

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Jan 9 2014 at 12:31pm #

@reddan++ and, BTW, the most likely outcome from this is that the restaurant opens and closes in a year or two; next is that it manages to stay open after the excitement dies down, doing a moderate but not outstanding business indefinitely. It would be really incredible if it led to the complete revitalization / gentrification of Braddock that Pierce fears. Even if things turn around, there are decades worth of housing stock to use up before there is any justification for raising rents. And, Braddock’s biggest problem, which is that it is in an isolated corner of the river with no easy access, remains.


Andrew

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Jan 11 2014 at 1:26am #

As someone who grew up in Clairton it’s always a good thing to see a storefront open up vs. being boarded up. This is a positive thing for the community. It’s one more building with activity…being fixed up rather then decaying away.


AWallRider

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Jan 22 2014 at 8:49pm #

I thought this story was relevant to this thread.

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/22/264528139/long-a-dirty-word-gentrification-may-be-losing-its-stigma


Ahlir

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Jan 22 2014 at 10:06pm #

I listened to the NPR story on the radio this morning. The bit at the end of the transcript is sweet: ” Murry’s will be closing, and a Whole Foods will take its place. Foster says he just hopes Whole Foods will put a bench out front.”.

I have no doubt that the WF will have benches, along with a parking lot in back and the requisite row of of bike stands in front (complete with a bike maintenance station!).

I somehow doubt that Foster will be able to afford to shop there. But I would hope that WF hires from the neighborhood.


Pierce

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Jan 22 2014 at 11:49pm #

NPR, home to middle of the road liberals who listen to crap that won’t upset them or recognize their own complicity in what’s happening around the world, the equivalent of elevator music radio programming

Kind of a confirmation bias no? People who didn’t move had better credit scores? People in gentrified neighborhoods were more likely to stick around and have better financial health? I’d imagine a neighborhood would already have to have some stability before it was a candidate to be gentrified.


jonawebb

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Jan 23 2014 at 8:46am #

There are lots of studies of this. Here is a review article. Gentrification gets a bad rap for displacing the poor, but the real question is what happens to displaced people — do they do better or worse? And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence that poor people lives are made worse by gentrification. In any case, as I said before, Kevin Sousa would be hitting it out of the park for his restaurant to gentrify Braddock. It has so very, very far to go.


Mikhail

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Jan 23 2014 at 10:04am #

Recent NPR take on gentrification — http://www.popville.com/2014/01/npr-studies-are-now-showing-that-gentrifying-neighborhoods-may-be-a-boon-to-longtime-residents-as-well/

http://www.wbur.org/npr/264528139/long-a-dirty-word-gentrification-may-be-losing-its-stigma

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/22/264528139/long-a-dirty-word-gentrification-may-be-losing-its-stigma


Vannevar

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Jan 23 2014 at 1:13pm #

Pierce wrote:NPR, home to middle of the road liberals who listen to crap that won’t upset them or recognize their own complicity in what’s happening around the world,

wow. I mean, is it pledge week or something?


jonawebb

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Jan 23 2014 at 1:25pm #

@v++ BTW for about one third of the country NPR is an extreme left-wing socialist propaganda machine associated with baby murder and that anti-Christ, Obama. It warms my heart to hear someone criticize it from the left.


gg

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Jan 23 2014 at 2:21pm #

Pierce wrote:I’d imagine a neighborhood would already have to have some stability before it was a candidate to be gentrified.

Most neighborhoods are somewhat stable. They might be mostly boarded up, but that is stable enough I guess. Not sure why you are against a business opening. This guy seems to have a good reputation. Maybe someone could get a job there and walk to work. Maybe it will save a storefront for at least for a while. The mayor that was elected is for it correct? What is the problem? It isn’t like that town will save its buildings without some outside investment. Do you just want most all of it to crumble more and more? I guess it is okay if it did. It isn’t hurting anyone I suppose. I think the people in the neighborhood could protest it if they don’t want it. They have the mayor’s ear I suspect. Not sure why you are so against a restaurant opening there? Most people would be happy just to save one building in the business district and maybe have a job. I agree it is an odd place to open up what seems to be a higher end place, but I am not invested, so it isn’t for me to say. Buildings are for sale or for rent in all kinds of areas. That place is zoned for a restaurant. Someone is going for it. It really isn’t anyone’s business unless you live in that neighborhood and can vote it out or complain about it. It is my understanding you don’t live there. I am sure you could gather residents or poll them to hear what they have to say. If they don’t want it, maybe you could organize a protest, but it probably wouldn’t matter. You can’t stop it if it is zoned for it. That is why they do zoning.


Pierce

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Jan 23 2014 at 7:09pm #

Yeah, I don’t live there. I live a mile and a half away. I should really mind my own more local affairs

@jonawebb
I hope a third of the population isn’t as stupid as that, but then again, how much traction did all those birthers get? I mean people think Obama is a “socialist,” and his only accomplishment is what, penalizing citizens for not purchasing crap from companies? (ACA) And letting all white collar criminals off the hook with company tax-deductible fines? And trying to negotiate a free trade agreement (without Congress) for 40% of the global economy even after the disastrous results of NAFTA? etc, etc, etc

Moving the center towards the right has been a great tactic at keeping the status quo

I also wish the anti-choice people would criticize Obama for all the children his drones and other foreign policies have caused, but I guess those lives aren’t as important


gg

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Jan 24 2014 at 9:35am #

Never said you should mind your more local affairs. Just wondering why you are so against a business opening.

As far as Obama. I think people are living in fantasy land to think presidents have much power. Big corporate interest runs the place and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Just look at what happened to President Carter when he butted heads with big oil. You are probably too young to remember odd and even gas days, but there was a sudden fuel shortage. Fuel = energy which controls the economy. This was the last time a president messed with big oil and that is just one example. Would you like me to discuss one of the biggest ponzi schemes ever? The bank/real estate BS that the taxpayers had to pick up the tab for? Oh and what about the fear/pentagon Military Industrial Complex we have been living that started with JFK when he tripled military spending as soon as he got in office? These days with how small the world got, we pretty much are at the mercy of the big cartels. Banks, oil (energy) and the list goes on. Think of the diamond industry with DeBeers controlling everything (prices/supply). Talk about a joke! Obama can’t get anything done. Heck he can’t even lift the embargo on Cuba for goodness sake. He is a total disappointment, but I don’t think anyone will be better. We need to massively cut military spending and build infrastructure, but we won’t due to the government wanting us to live in fear.

Okay, back to this little restaurant that seems to be an earth shattering event.


randy

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Jan 24 2014 at 10:22am #

Timely: Fetterman voiced his opinion on a lot of these issues over at Reddit.

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