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Cheesecake Factory set to open in Pittsburgh!

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http://www.postgazette.com/pg/04211/353370.stm

SouthSide Works braces for retail and restaurant openings

10-screen movie theater to debut in the fall

Thursday, July 29, 2004

By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hiring has begun for The Cheesecake Factory restaurant that is scheduled to open Aug. 17 on the South Side, and the project's developers are scrambling to teach Pittsburghers how to get to the place.

The opening at the unusual building, which looks a bit like something from the Disney movie "Aladdin," is expected to trigger crowds that could tie up East Carson Street if not handled properly, said Jean D. Mignogna, director of marketing for the developer, Soffer Organization.

But other than the traffic concerns, the restaurant opening is a welcome event in the saga of developing the 34-acre former LTV Steel plant site. The last pieces of the historic plant were demolished in the early 1990s, but it's taken awhile for the redevelopment project known as SouthSide Works to take wing.

In the last couple of years, office and residential structures have been completed, but not many retail and entertainment-type businesses that would really open the site to the general public. Places already open, such as Hot Metal Grille and H&R Block, are along East Carson, not deeper into the center of the sprawling development.

The 12,600-square-foot Cheesecake Factory, along 27th Street behind the project's new town square, will bring customers in deeper. The developers promise it also will lead a wave of retail openings.

September is expected to bring furnishing store Z Gallerie, Rynn's Luggage and Qdoba Mexican Grill, plus a new 10-screen movie theater.

The cinema plans have had several incarnations over the years. Now, Jenco Cinemas operator Jeff Lewine is set to run the theater, which is expected to devote three screens to art and European films. Lewine also operates the Waterworks Cinemas on Route 28 and Star City Cinemas in South Fayette.

By the holidays, about 15 places should be open, said Mignogna. Tenants expected between now and the end of 2005 include Berry Patch Country Gift Shoppe, bath and body shop Nectar, clothing stores United Colors of Benetton, Sisley and Urban Outfitters, kitchen store Sur La Table, outdoor retailer REI, restaurants Claddagh Irish Pub and McCormick & Schmick's.

A lease plan for the site displayed at a recent real estate conference indicated Joseph-Beth Booksellers is nearing a deal.

The Soffer staff may invest in radio ads and brochures to direct drivers to a Web site offering directions to parking garages on the site.

Mignogna believes, and is counting on, the Cheesecake Factory's opening to draw the sort of crowds the California chain has had elsewhere.

The SouthSide Works project has long been envisioned as something that would look as though it naturally evolved along with the rest of the South Side.

That same tact is now being attempted over in Bloomfield, where developers hope to start construction as early as this fall on Luna Square, a $115 million Bloomfield development that will pack a hotel, six-screen art cinema theater, offices, apartments, shops and a 1,500-car parking garage onto an eight-acre site off Baum Boulevard.

The project, led by developer Kratsa Properties of Harmar, has been working its way through various approval processes, including a tax-increment financing deal, and the site is still being cleared. "It's a very complex project," said Michael Kratsa.

Developers plan to put a six-story parking garage reaching to the nearby busway, then build the rest of the structures above that.

Different architects will be tapped to try to create a collection of buildings that appear to rise naturally from the neighborhood, a tact also used at SouthSide Works.

Kratsa pointed out that his project was much smaller, but that he was enthused by the idea of urban-sensitive development. He predicted businesses will start opening in Luna Square in 2006.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Teresa F. Lindeman can be reached at [email protected] or at 412-263-2018.)

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i am still a little unclear on the movieplex, i heard originally it was to be an artsy theater so as not to compete with the one they are planning (still planning) downtown, but i hope they scrapped that limit, i am looking for the movieplex to be mainstream

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I think it is best for them to do a mix of art/foreign and mainstream. It'll be nice to have another option in the city for mainstream films, but by showing some non-mainstream stuff they will run a lower risk of losing business to Loew's Waterfront.

I am also glad to see another place that will show non-mainstream films, because the three Cinemagic theaters and the handful of one-screen places can't cover everything.

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maybe its because im not a huge artsy movie type, but the city of pittsburgh already has lots of art houses, but no place i can just take a date to see Achorman or Saving Nemo you know, think about this city wanting to attract more students and young people but the only viewing options is some indy or french film. I have heard the the cineplex on the southside will be a mix of both some arts some mainstream, and i know the theater downtown if it ever gets built is supposed to be an AMC or something. I want to just go see a Universal film in this town. like soon. lol

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I just thought of something else.... The Squirrel Hill theaters used to offer student discounts, but stopped when they realized they were the only viable option for most students. If some new theaters open in the city, particularly near Oakland, maybe they will start offering student discounts again. That would be very good for the many students living in the city.

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LOL, Gerbil no say it aint so! USAirways was the only one I thought that used and abused us as a mid-sized economy. Its theaters now too! Why does this town love monopolys so? Or at least puts up with them when they shouldn't.

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I really wish the Cheescake Factory was not part of the mix. I just don't get the fascination with crappy chain restaurants and this chain is particularly awful. People treat huge servings as good food. The addition to Southside should have been thought out as to carefully add to the already successful string of local establishments.

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There are also some local restaurants opening there. Hot Metal Grille, for instance.

As for Cheesecake Factory... it may not be that good, but what matters is that people think it is. And it is a very trendy chain right now. I think it's good for the city to have one, (if only so nobody can say "what kind of city is this that it hasn't got a Cheesecake Factory?").

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I used to think that way (what city doesn't have...)

I think it is a definite plus to not have thes places. Chains are not unique and while some are actually worthwhile , this is not one of them. In some cases, retail usually, obtaining a chain would be a good coup for the city, but restaurants are not usually it.

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CCF does put us on the map when it comes to conventions and visitors they usually go to a "chain" like HardRock or something the first few nights then branch out, I think overall its a plus, as long as I dont start seeing them on every streetcorner, Starbucks I think is something that we should kick out of town before we get started on CCF

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