And, the hotel.
While much of the press has gone to Dennis Marron’s praiseworthy new steak and seafood restaurant, “or, The Whale,” it is only a portion of the larger, 185-room Distrikt Hotel, which celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday.
Located at 453 Boulevard of the Allies in the former Salvation Army headquarters, this is Distrikt’s second hotel nationwide; the original opened in Manhattan in 2010.
Distrikt Co-principal Scott Schroeder said his team first came to Pittsburgh three years ago and fell in love with the city’s energy, architecture and people. But that wasn’t enough to deter detractors.
“There were a lot of people back in New York and New Jersey who said, ‘Why Pittsburgh?’”
“Those same people now,” he continues, “three years later, are saying ‘did you know Pittsburgh is the hottest city in America?’”
“Yeah, we know,” said Schroeder to laughter and applause. “We were just fortunate enough to figure it out a couple years earlier than the rest of the country.”
Construction on the hotel began in 2014 and was led by Continental Building Co.
Strada Architects, who designed the 10-story structure, kept much of the original woodworking and other architectural flourishes, including stained glass windows at the entry.
“When we saw the building, we were dumbstruck that no one thought of doing a hotel here,” says Jennifer Austin, executive vice president at Distrikt.
The two-story main lobby is located in the former chapel, the second floor of which contains an intimate bar, Evangeline, whose menu and cocktail program is run by Marron and co. next door.
Each of the nine guest floors will be themed after a different Pittsburgh neighborhood, with photo collages to match. Some of the guest amenities include complimentary turndown service, free bike rentals and access to a rooftop terrace with views of the South Side, Firstside and Grant Street.
“You let the property and the city define you,” says Austin. “We truly love hospitality and what we do in our hotels is really celebrate that.”