“Metal” Mary Bielich and Diana “Dingo” Ngo sell fruits and vegetables on a sidewalk in Allentown.
“Everybody deserves access to fresh food,” says Bielich, bassist for metal bands the Mud City Manglers and Behind Enemy Lines. “This is a necessary addition to the neighborhood.”
The produce stand, which runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is a temporary solution to the area’s food access problem. Soon it will occupy an entire storefront at 732 E. Warrington Ave.
This winter, Green Gobblin’ Grocery will offer local produce, including organic items, baked goods, grab-and-go sandwiches and Pittsburgh-made wares. Since music is the owners’ passion (Ngo plays in Ancient Torture, Sand Blaster and Al Gore), there are plans to open a performance space in the basement of the building and renovate the apartments above the store. Depending on the Covid situation, the adjacent parking lot will host vendor fairs this spring.
Bielich and Ngo, who is co-owner and head chef at Onion Maiden, a heavy metal- and punk-themed vegan restaurant on E. Warrington Avenue, acquired the building last year. They own the property with Matthew Tuite, guitarist for Mud City Manglers, Behind Enemy Lines and Zom, and Brooks Criswell, Ngo’s husband, who is co-owner of Onion Maiden and a member of Riparian, Ancient Torture and Sand Blaster.
Over the years, the 2,400-square-foot, ground-floor space has served as a shoe store, a carpet retailer and a feminist bookshop. It’s now a big, empty room waiting to be filled with healthy food and hungry customers.
When the pandemic slowed the team’s construction plans, Bielich and Ngo decided to start a Green Gobblin’ pop-up to supply local residents with essential goods, including produce from the Strip District and nearby Hilltop Urban Farm.
“We thought it would great to have a place to buy a tomato or an onion,” Bielich says. “A lot of people have to invest time and money getting to a place to pick up one or two things they need for dinner. We figured a smaller version of Green Gobblin’ Grocery was better than nothing.”
Bielich, who also moonlights as a mechanic, says she wants the brick-and-mortar location to operate daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate all schedules, from an office worker doing the nine-to-five gig to nurses pulling all-nighters.
Although the virus has delayed their touring schedules and live performances, Bielich and Ngo are staying busy writing and recording new tunes (the Mud City Mangler’s new album, “Give Me The Hammer,” drops on Halloween).
Right now, the sound of people munching on fresh veggies in Allentown is truly music to their ears.