Date night will soon get a little easier.
Come April, if you are looking to have a night out on the town but aren’t sure what to do, the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp. (PDCDC) can be of service. The nonprofit is making final preparations—training staff and building a website—to launch a concierge service.
Since it’s not just the out-of-towners who need help finding all the cool spots in town, this concierge service aims to serve all Pittsburghers.
Yes. We will have our own concierge.
One of the best things about this program? It’s tailored to your needs.
Want dinner at a restaurant known for their wine followed by a play at a small theater? They’ll find it. How about a chophouse that serves craft ales followed by live music at a blues venue? They’ll suggest some spots. Favor the outdoors? They’ll suggest options for, say, an alfresco lunch followed by a bike tour. Or an evening with out-of-town guests? They’ll recommend ways to show off your city.
“We will do everything a hotel concierge does,” promises John Valentine, executive director of the PDCDC.
If you prefer conversation, you can call the PDCDC where everyone on staff will be trained as a city concierge. No additional employees will be hired to offer the service. “We try not to use taxpayer or foundation money unless a project can’t work without it,” Valentine says. PDCDC receives their overall funding from a combination of government and foundation grants, corporate sponsors, newsletter ads, membership fees and donations.
If you prefer all things virtual, there will also be an online concierge. The site will provide package ideas (dinner and show options, for example), restaurant and retail listings, activities and an events calendar.
Pittsburgh is, quite possibly, the only city to have this service. “We looked all over,” says Valentine, who couldn’t find it happening anywhere else. (And yet, the PDCDC is not even the first in Pittsburgh as it turns out. See correction below about another concierge service started last year in the city by Robert Miles.)
His staff has been trying to figure out how many calls they might get, but “we can’t figure it out—although we are already receiving 4 to 5 calls a day. Everybody thinks its a great idea.”
One all-too-common refrain that was an impetus for the service? There’s nothing to do downtown.
“People say to me, ‘there’s no bookstores downtown.’ There are two. ‘There’s nowhere to see jazz.’ There are five jazz clubs. ‘There’s no place to see comedy.’ There is a comedy club.”
Pittsburghers are always surprised at all the things going on downtown, adds Valentine. “There’s reality and perception—and we don’t want perception to become reality,” he says.
The reality is there’s a lot of cool things to do in downtown, but it wasn’t always like this.
“When I first came here 11 years ago, everyone said Pittsburgh is 10 years behind the times,” says Valentine. “And now we’ve got to the point where Pittsburgh is leading the way. We are there. Now other cities are visiting here to see what we are doing.
“I am so happy with the way the city is going,” he says. “We want people all over the region to realize there’s so much more to do downtown than they thought.”
CORRECTION January 16, 2015: There is another concierge service in Pittsburgh, according to Robert Miles who started The Downtown Concierge Service in June, 2014, he says. The Facebook page for Downtown Concierge Service was created in August. Miles was the head concierge at the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh for three years and left in April “to to pursue my vision of a concierge service for downtown as an ambassador of the city for tourists,” he told NEXTpittsburgh. He can be reached at 412.478.2161.