Mt. Washington LeMont owner makes restaurants second business

| Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009

For a man who made his fortune installing roofs on commercial buildings nationwide, becoming a restaurateur may seem unusual.

Ed Dunlap, chairman and chief executive officer of Centimark Corp. of Southpointe, Washington County, said his decision to enter the food business was partly due to his in-laws' influence.

"They have been involved in Italian restaurants throughout Florida, and it seems only natural for me and my wife, Anna, to get involved in restaurants," he said.

Today they own not only the LeMont in Mt. Washington, but through their company, Culinary Concepts Inc. of Pittsburgh, they own Cafe Euro and a deli in U.S. Steel Tower and Palate Bistro, Downtown; Amigos restaurant in the Galleria, Mt. Lebanon; Le Pommier on the South Side; and his most recent addition, Pazzo, an Italian-style restaurant in Mt. Lebanon.

Palate Bistro, which closed July 17, will reopen in early 2010 as a New York-style bistro called Off Broadway, Dunlap said. Plans are to keep some of the existing menu, make major changes such as moving the third-floor bar to the first floor and expand the restaurant into an adjacent empty space, said Michael Schumacher, Culinary Concepts senior vice president of operations.

"Most of the restaurants are doing good," Dunlap said, without disclosing any financial data.

His son Timothy is president and chief operating officer of Centimark, which had revenue of $402.6 million in the fiscal year ended April 30.

Two former restaurants, the Colony in Scott and Tambellini, on Route 51 in Pittsburgh's Bon Air section, are serving as party centers. Tambellini's is now called the Amici Banquet & Meeting Center.

However, the former Colony will soon be reborn as a Mediterranean-style restaurant called Jasmine, Dunlap said.

"Tambellini's, with 20,000 square feet, was too big to succeed as a restaurant, and its utility bills were high," he said. Now utilities' use is limited, only when the building is being used for an event or meeting.

The Dunlaps keep active with their restaurants, spending at least four days a week dining in them.

His Culinary Concepts serves as the caterer at Churchill Valley Country Club and, starting Sept. 1, will provide catering to the Brackenridge Heights Country Club in Natrona Heights.

Last week, he signed a deal to become the franchiser for 32 Damon's Grill restaurants in Western and Central Pennsylvania. They will be called Damon's Grill and Sports Bar.

"I'm currently negotiating to purchase the existing Damon's in Collier and will convert the Amigos restaurant in Peters into Damon's," he said.

The other two Damon's in the region — in The Waterfront in Homestead and in Monroeville — will remain with present ownership, he said.

His goal is to open between five and 10 Damon's by the end of 2010 in the region, either through new construction or purchase of existing restaurants and converting them.

Dunlap said the reason LeMont has remained popular is its staff. It is headed by Alexander (Alex) Colaizzi, the general manager, who has been at the restaurant since it was opened in 1959 by the late James Blandi. The restaurant is celebrating its 50th anniversary through June 2010.

Anna Dunlap, an interior designer, working with Amy Storrs, a designer, has been instrumental in redesigning the interior of a number of the restaurants, starting with the LeMont shortly after its purchase, Dunlap said.

He also has ventured into real estate investment through his Claremont Development operation. It has three offices — in West Palm Beach, Fla., Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

"Through Claremont, we own about 30 commercial properties," he said. The most recent development is a small strip center on Washington Road near South Hills Village mall.

He still owns the Park Schenley name, although he has no immediate plans to open a restaurant under that name. Many old-time Pittsburghers will remember when the Park Schenley was one of the region's finest restaurants.

Additional Information:

Some of Dunlap's restaurant interests

• LeMont, Mt. Washington

• Cafe Euro, U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown

• Amigos, Mt. Lebanon

• Le Pommier, South Side

• Pazzo, Mt. Lebanon

• Culinary Concepts Inc., food service business

• Party centers: Colony in Scott; Amici Banquet & Meeting Center, Bon Air

• Damon's Grill and Sports Bar, franchise for 32 locations

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