When Palomino closed last month, many readers wondered whether a new restaurant would actually open in the space. After all, some downtown restaurant spaces remain empty years after the last business closed, like the Liberty Avenue space which used to hold Trilogy (closed in 2008).
A new liquor license application was the first sign that the Gateway Center might not lack a restaurant for very long. Soon after, Palomino’s furniture and fixtures were stripped, and then brown paper lined the windows, concealing any work from view.
We may not yet be able to get a peek at the new restaurant, but the new operator, David Greenberg, was happy to share some details about himself and his restaurant, Elements.
The structure of the restaurant has been left intact, but the floor, lighting and color scheme have changed. The design team also added a water feature and a fire-like lighting effect. The restaurant will serve contemporary American cuisine, and will source ingredients and products locally when possible. Like Palomino, the restaurant will also have a lounge area, and Mr. Greenberg hopes to have a vital and lively happy hour, with a great wine list, appetizers and tapas.
Mr. Greenberg has owned and operated restaurants in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for twenty years. But the area, which primarily depends on tourism, was hit hard by the recession and swine flu, and Mr. Greenberg began to contemplate the possibility of trying a new location.
He heard about the Gateway Center space from a friend at Hertz Investment, and when he came to Pittsburgh to check it out, he planned to turn it down.
Now, just a few months later, he is moving to Pittsburgh with his wife and two young sons on July 1. “I’ve really been pleasantly surprised by everything in Pittsburgh,” said Mr. Greenberg.
Many visits followed the first. Most recently he came to look for his executive chef. Mr. Greenberg was struck by the helpfulness of local chefs, who were quick to recommend talented colleagues who might be looking for a position and happy to talk to him about opening a restaurant in Pittsburgh.
After conducting an extensive search, he has teamed up with Justin Severino, currently the sous chef at Eleven Contemporary Kitchen in the Strip District.
“I was really looking for a long-term partner,” said Mr. Greenberg, who was impressed both by what he heard about Mr. Severino and by the food that he prepared for him. “He is very talented.”
In the coming weeks, Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Severino will begin to assemble their team, as they wait for their liquor license to be finalized and redesign to be complete. Mr. Greenberg hopes the restaurant will open in late summer.