Come to Braddock most any Thursday and you’ll be greeted by the sight (and smells) of Brassero Grill’s food truck as it slings mouth-watering tacos, burritos and quesadillas outside Brew Gentlemen craft brewery.

Starting next month, Brassero will have a permanent home in Braddock with the opening of their first brick-and-mortar location inside the Free Press Building at 526 Braddock Ave., just a few doors down from Brew Gentlemen.

Photo courtesy Brassero Grill.
Photo courtesy Brassero Grill.

“We love that area,” says Fernando Espejel, who owns Brassero along with family members Miriam Strong and Maria Delpilar. Espejel immigrated to Pittsburgh from Mexico City over a decade ago. They launched the food truck in 2012, specializing in fresh, traditional Mexican fare accompanied by homemade salsas and guacamole.

While finances played a part in their decision to move to Braddock, it was their positive experiences from vending outside the popular craft brewery that ultimately tipped the scales:

“All the places in Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, the rents are so high. But the main reason [I chose Braddock was] I see Brew Gentlementhey are such great guys, I love them to deathI see they are doing well and I said let’s go for it.”

“From the beginning, we envisioned this space as housing a restaurant,” says Jason Togyer, communications manager at the Mon Valley Initiative. “One of the concerns from residents when Braddock Hospital was torn down was that [the cafeteria] was one of the few places to have a sit-down meal. We had people look at this space for other purposes, but we kept saying nothe community is telling us they want a restaurant tenant.”

Not only does Brassero give Braddock another restaurant, their arrival means the last big commercial space within the Free Press Building has an occupant.

Inside Brassero Grill. Photo by Brian Conway.
Inside Brassero Grill. Photo by Brian Conway.

“It’s a nice mix of tenants,” says Togyer. “With the office space and outward-facing public operations it makes the building alive now seven days a week.”

The newly renovated Free Press building opened in late October 2015. What once housed the Braddock Free Press and Braddock Moose Lodge is now home to Studebaker Metals, Meter Feeder, Camp Copeland Studio, seven apartments, a variety store and more. Brassero takes over the space previously occupied by Guentert’s Bakery.

Espejel says that the restaurant should open sometime in June and that the menu won’t stray far from what they offer already, though they do plan to offer brunch on Sundays. He also envisions hiring from the community to help with operations: “We’re a big family, but we’re going to need a lot of help.”

As for the food truck, don’t worry: it will remain in operation.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.