A dual-concept restaurant and bar with a nostalgic vibe is opening Downtown in the spring.
Joey Hilty and Emily Slagel, co-owners of The Vandal restaurant in Lawrenceville and The Bureau coffee shop in The Detective Building in East Liberty, are bringing their culinary talent to the historic Pitt Building on Smithfield Street.
The 2,600-square-foot, ground-level storefront will house both Saint Johannes, a bar/restaurant inspired by old-fashioned supper clubs, and Bambina, an Italian-American sandwich shop.
Saint Johannes, open from 4 p.m. to midnight, will focus on the grandeur of dining out, with a traditional menu that offers timeless dishes made with modern techniques. The bar will host a happy hour and a selection of post-Prohibition cocktails and snacks.
Bambina will operate from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. , serving hot and cold sandwiches such as smoked pastrami, turkey pesto, meatball subs, roast pork and Reubens. Salads and homemade sides will be on the menu, too, along with espresso and Italian sweets. A retail wine program focused on natural and biodynamic wines is in the works.
Hilty and Slagel say each concept is unique, but both carry a friendly, neighborhood feel.
“The idea of having a ‘third place’ is important,” Slagel says. “With more people working and living Downtown, it can be easy to get caught up in the grind. I like the idea of creating a third place, a dreamy respite. We want to give people something that is comfortable and familiar, but also really fun.”
Right now, she says, “a lot of Downtown is ephemeral and touristy; there isn’t really a neighborhood bar in that area of Downtown for people to go to. That’s what we’re looking to provide.”
The Pitt Building also is home to Americus Club, a members-only social club offering office, social and event space. Beauty Shoppe, a company that transforms historic buildings into vibrant co-working spaces, launched the project last year with New York investors Hippeus Capital and Feenix Venture Partners. Building owner and developer Michael Blum is an investor in Beauty Shoppe.
Hilty and Slagel formed a business relationship with Blum after The Vandal debuted in 2015. Last year, the pair opened The Bureau inside Beauty Shoppe’s Detective Building on Euclid Street.
Known for their ever-changing, seasonal menus, the pair will take a more traditional approach to food at the Downtown site with a highly curated menu of dishes they know and love. Customers will see seasonal changes and specials, but the owners are banking on cravable standards that keep folks coming back.