Updated: Margaux opens July 30. Guests can enjoy coffee, espresso and a breakfast menu from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A cocktail bar and weekend brunch are coming soon.
Michael Sanders knows that good things come to those who wait … and wait.
Three years ago, he mentioned to a friend his idea for a café that would morph into a chic cocktail lounge at night.
The next day, he saw a For Rent sign on a long-vacant building at the corner of Penn and Highland avenues in East Liberty. Sanders took the literal sign as a message from the universe.
In July, his dream will finally be realized when the 3,200-square-foot former department store is reborn as Margaux.
The spot will open daily at 8 a.m. for coffee, tea and small-bite breakfast options. The food is prepared by chef Zane Thompson and his wife, pastry chef Lisa Wilson of Harrison’s Fine Pastries on nearby Baum Boulevard. (The couple met while attending culinary school Downtown.)
Margaux is named for the wine region in France, but it also means “pearl,” a fitting moniker for such a rare and beautiful concept.
“It’s modern and simple and elegant, yet approachable,” Sanders says.
The aesthetic of the lounge was inspired by artist Samantha Silvis, whose series of paintings now hangs in the center of the space above the U-shaped bar. Sanders also purchased work from other local artists. He sees it as an investment in the community.
During the day, sunlight fills the large room. Customers can sit inside, which is furnished with comfortable couches, chairs and banquette seating. Café tables will be set up on the sidewalk and brunch will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
When the sun goes down, things heat up. The pink glow from the neon Margaux sign creates an ethereal ambiance. Bar Manager Sarah Clarke will whip up classic and European-inspired cocktails with an emphasis on champagne and cognac. Patrons can snack on an assortment of small, shareable plates and late-night desserts.
Although Sanders owns Club Café on the South Side and Pittsburgh-based Opus One Productions, live performances will not take place at Margaux. There will, however, be cool playlists piped through a state-of-the-art sound system.
The lounge is already resonating with people. For the past few weeks, Sanders has hosted coffee and cocktail labs to give friends, family and industry insiders a taste of what’s to come, all while collecting their feedback.
Passersby often stop and peek through the large windows, their eyes bulging in amazement.
Margaux was supposed to open in 2020, but the pandemic delayed those plans. Sanders says it gave his team time to fine-tune the business.
It’s already exceeded the expectations he had on that fateful night three years ago.