few days in Pittsburgh

My friend John Battelle asked me to come to Pittsburgh and be interviewed by him for Thrival, an innovation and music festival.  I was thinking about doing a trip to check out Pittsburgh so I said yes.  I asked my sister to come along.

Obviously, the Andy Warhol Museum is a must-do.  Warhol would have been 90 this year.  He was the forefront of how to build a brand through visualization.  He captured the zeitgeist of the commercialization of an artistic generation.

The museum shows his work from an early age until his death.  Really well done.  My favorite thing was in the summer of 1985, Commodore International gave Andy an Amiga 1000, a computer and he became their brand ambassador.  They all realized that computers were going to change digital images.

We walked over to Federal Galley, a food court launch pad for the best new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh.  There are four restaurants in operation and a bar.  We went with the taco combo to split.

Our next stop was the Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum.  They have a long-term loan of the polka-dot installation by the artist Yayoi Kusama.

Down the street is Randyland, home of local artist Randy Gilson, who created a public art installation.  It is a labor of love.  Reminds me of some of the brightly tiled homes in Venice, CA.

We made our way over to the Strip District.  It is an area filled with grocers and restaurants.  Many of these grocers have been there for decades.  Our first stop was La Prima Espresso Company, a super old school coffee shop for a really good cup of java.

There is the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company, Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop, Stamoolis Brothers Company started in 1909 by 5 brother who came from Greece.  Love a shop that has countless kinds of feta cheese.

There is Lotus Food, an Asian grocery store, Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, and even a Penzeys Spices.  Hands down my favorite is Wholey founded in 1912.  They began as a seafood market but have evolved into something like Stu Leonards.  There is a rhythm to walking through the store and the prices are incredible.  There is the fish, the meat, the poultry, the vegetables, and the fruit.  Such a great store.

We walked back to our hotel for a quick stop before making our way over to the Thrival event that took place at the Carnegie Mellon Art Museum.  For dinner, we went back to the Strip to Bar Marco.  It has a good vibe in there and I would like to say it was delicious but we both found it sub-par.  We barely touched our food.  Alas, it happens.  Tomorrow we had other eats on the horizon.



Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks for this.Loved seeing the Commodore Amiga.I got to know the Tramiels very well and heard about this story.My very first job in the industry was at Atari, which was bought by Jack Tramiel 8 months later, who basically turned the entire company on its head to rebuild it.I went from a first job at Atari, one of thousands, to one of the 28 remaining employees from Atari reporting to Jack and his sons and worked to rebuild it and eventually took it public.Biggest early break of my career that set the scene for everything I have done–from running the bbs, to building an entire new brand through distribution.(sorry about the personal digression here!, couldn’t control myself.)

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love it.

  2. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I love Pittsburgh! It’s so beautiful and underrated. And of course, it has the best museum in the U.S. – the Warhol! I need to get back there.

  3. CCjudy

    Who did the art with the hearts and the bird?

    1. Gotham Gal

      Andy Warhol.

  4. Laura Yecies

    My son, daughter-in-law and grandson have been in Pittsburgh for medical school/residency for the last 8 years so i’ve gotten to appreciate the wonderful arts and food scene plus it is really beautiful with the hills, river and skyline. e str Love the popcorn company and wholey’s – also a great chocolate shop in the strip district. I think you would like Smallman gallery. Twisted Frenchman is a favorite of ours.