Chef Dan DeRight has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, but he’s the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn.
“I am very much a lifelong learner,” he says. “One of the things I love about food is that I can spend the rest of my life doing this and still only know a tiny portion of it. It’s not a study that can be completed.”
DeRight and his wife Elizabeth are about a month away from learning more with the opening of The Journeyman’s Table at 3523 Penn Ave. in lower Lawrenceville.
The 3,200-square-foot building, which formerly housed Pints on Penn, has been operating on and off as a tavern since 1887.
DeRight’s winding career path has taken him from New York City to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and back to the Steel City. He’s worked in kitchens at Eleven, Casbah, The Café at the Frick, Sonoma Grille and Emilia Romagna. He also found time to become a furniture maker and earn degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
By learning a variety of trades, DeRight is the very definition of a journeyman … and he’s ready to welcome you to his table.
The eatery will serve fresh, scratch-made pasta dishes, smoked meats, wine-braised short ribs and vegetable-heavy dishes. Nearly everything will be gluten-free. There will also be Asian-inspired items on the menu (the chef’s favorite), including Mapo Chi — spicy Chinese chicken wings served with a modified tzatziki sauce to temper the heat.
The bar, which features an antique back bar and 14 stools, will have 37 taps pouring beer from local and national breweries, red and white wine, and nitro coffee. Patrons can order short flights with 5.3-ounce pours of beer. DeRight, who dabbles in distilling, will also offer signature cocktails.
Inside the first-floor lounge area, there are two, large windows accented by stained glass pieces the construction crew found in the basement. DeRight built the light fixtures and the five tables downstairs, along with the staircase leading up to the second-floor dining room. That area boasts seating for 50 diners, including two 8-foot tables in the center of the room. During warm weather, customers can sit outside on the deck.
The DeRights have been working on this project for four years. They hope The Journeyman’s Table will be in business by late December, but they know the industry is hurting due to staffing shortages and supply chain issues.
DeRight says he’s getting a lot of support and advice from his fellow restaurateurs, including chef Cory Hughes at Fig & Ash on the North Side. Hughes worked with DeRight in seven different kitchens throughout Pittsburgh and experienced his own long road toward restaurant ownership. His current success – seriously, go try the meatloaf! – inspires DeRight to keep going.
DeRight can’t wait until folks take a few steps off the beaten path of Butler Street to The Journeyman’s Table.
“This is casual fine dining,” he says. “Bring your kids and come in to eat, drink, talk and laugh.”