Turns out good things can come from browsing Craigslist late at night.
One night this July, Espresso a Mano owner Matt Gebis was up in the wee hours with his newborn son when he came across an ad for a commercial space on the South Side.
“I was just scrolling through Facebook or whatever and someone shared the ad,” says Gebis. “It was a gorgeous space, with everything included.
“I waited until morning to text the realtor.”
The space, it turns out, belonged to Amazing Cafe, which the owners closed in May after a one-day workers’ strike. (Amazing Yoga remains open on the second floor.)
After signing a lease and a few weeks of minor modifications, the new Espresso a Mano enjoyed its soft opening Monday, October 23. The original is on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.
“We always thought about [opening a second location],” says Gebis. “There were different opportunities, but it never felt right for one reason or another.”
“After almost nine years it finally got to a point where Lawrenceville was running without me being there all the time,” he continues. “We have really great managers that I can delegate things to, and it took me a while to get to that point.”
Located at 1506 E. Carson Street, the new location is situated in the heart of the South Side’s historic business district, on the same block as Carson Street Deli, Flats on Carson, Lesvos Gyros, Mario’s and others.
Gebis says he’s well aware that there’s both a Starbucks and Beehive Coffeehouse located one block away, but believes the size of the neighborhood means that there’s plenty of business to go around.
“When we opened in Lawrenceville there was a Crazy Mocha four blocks down,” he says, “and both of us are still around today.”
Whereas the Lawrenceville location has a more industrial aesthetic, with garage door windows and exposed red brick interiors, the South Side location has a warm and cozy feel with bright white walls that are dotted with vintage coffee posters.
And unlike the Lawrenceville location, the South Side’s will have a kitchen, which remains a few weeks from opening.
Kate Romane, of Black Radish Kitchen and formerly e2, helped put together a “tasty, fresh, but simple breakfast and lunch program,” says Gebis, including offerings from Pittsburgh Juice Company as well as breakfast sandwiches that come on either Pigeon bagels or bread from Mediterra Bakehouse.
The focus, of course, remains on the coffee. Gebis says that they are diligent about the quality of coffee as well as their recipes, and that they buy from roasters who pay farmers a premium to produce high-quality beans.
He believes that their coffee, coupled with excellent customer service, is what will set Espresso a Mano apart.
“We want to take the standard we set in Lawrenceville and bring it to South Side.”
Espresso a Mano is currently open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will eventually expand to be open seven days a week. Visit their website for updated hours.