Photo courtesy of Emerson's.

Emerson’s, a cocktail lounge with a coastal California vibe, is now open in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The 2,000-square-foot spot is located at 435 Market St., on the second floor of the Thompson’s Building which is owned — and was beautifully restored — by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

Co-owners Dave and Rachel Priselac are part of the team running the street-level Market Street Grocery and its third-floor event space, The Graeme House. Emerson’s is named after their 3 ½-year-old daughter, who has grown up along with the business.

Rachel Priselac says customers love Market Street Grocery’s gourmet grab-and-go eats, Italian wines and coffee, but she also wanted to offer a gathering place that was an extension of home.

Photo courtesy of Emerson’s.
Photo courtesy of Emerson’s.

“At Emerson’s, there’s a deeper level of hospitality,” she explains. “It gives our chefs an opportunity to do a different style of cooking and focus on a beautiful, plated presentation.”

Chefs Mark Kinney and Chad Rapp (also a co-owner of Emerson’s along with the Priselacs and Mimi and Ralph Falbo) are rolling out a small, scratch-made menu that will expand over the next month. The offerings include charcuterie and a local cheese plate, poutine, a house salad and 10-inch pizzas, including the Bianca with garlic confit, ricotta cheese, roasted tomato and basil.

Unlike the downstairs wine bar at Market Street Grocery, Emerson’s boasts a full liquor license. It specializes in boutique spirits and small-batch, organic and natural wines from all over the world.

Photo courtesy of Emerson’s.
Photo courtesy of Emerson’s.

Guests can grab a spot in one the bar, a traditional seating area with tables or the living room, which boasts a fireplace, couch and comfy lounge chairs. There’s also room for DJs and live performers.

Large windows bathe the space in daylight. Rachel Priselac, who designed the business, took inspiration from nature, blending earth tones with patinaed furniture, light oak floors and plants.

Entrances are on Market St. via a stairwell or on Graeme St., which has an elevator and stairs.

Emerson’s operates Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight. On Sundays and during off-hours, it’s available for private rentals.

Since opening Market Street Grocery in 2015, the owners have met a lot of Downtown residents and workers. Rachel Priselac thinks the area is becoming more of a destination. She’s happy to welcome everyone to Emerson’s, which officially opened Jan. 2.

“It’s fun because it’s an extension of what we’ve already been doing,” she says. “We’ve developed a lot of relationships with local vendors and now get to use their products and show them off in other ways.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.