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Mt. Lebanon offers valet service in business district on trial basis

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Visitors to Mt. Lebanon's Uptown business district can get the VIP treatment for the next few weekends, as the municipality tries out a valet parking service on Washington Road.

D&P Valet Systems of Scott is offering the $8-per-car service from three reserved parking spaces along southbound Washington Road, in front of Walnut Grille, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays through late February, said Eric Milliron, commercial districts manager for Mt. Lebanon.

Mt. Lebanon Municipal Manager Steve Feller said the agreement with D&P allows the valet service to rent the spaces in front of Walnut Grille for $6 per night. Parking cars in the South Garage costs them $1 per car.

Valets have been kept busy.

“It's really increased dramatically. We doubled our business over last week,” said D&P co-owner David Jason, who shares in the venture with his brother Stephen and Pittsburgh Penguins broadcaster Paul Steigerwald.

This past weekend — the third week of the trial run of the service, which continues through Feb. 26 — the two valets parked up to 15 cars per night; Jason said he hoped business would peak around 30 to 40 cars per night as word gets out.

“There's always parking in Mt. Lebanon, but people can't always park right in front of the business they want,” Milliron said.

If successful, the service should allow customers to skip the walk to and from one of the municipal garages or surface lots, and could free up more of the street parking that's often at a premium, he said.

Valets for D&P drive customers' cars a few blocks to the municipality's South Garage, where they are parked on the seldom-used lower levels.

Jason said municipal officials had been worried about traffic from vehicles pulling in and out of the valet stand, but no problems have materialized yet.

Conditions may even improve, he said, if fewer people are stopping in Washington Road's busy travel lanes to load and unload passengers in front of their destinations.

Jason, 44, of Scott got his start working at and eventually running the valet service at the former Boardwalk nightclub complex in the Strip District. He also runs valet services in the South Side and on the North Shore.

He and his partners proposed the valet service for Mt. Lebanon in April, and have been slogging through traffic studies and business plans in the hope of earning a long-term agreement with Mt. Lebanon.

“Mt. Lebanon has been a great community to work with,” Jason said. “We'd rather come out of the gate a little slow and gradually build things up, than run full speed right away and run into an accident.”

Though the valet service is available for patrons of any Uptown business, almost all the valet customers have been going to Walnut Grille, which offers a $3 discount on meals if customers present their valet ticket, Jason said.

He said he was working with other restaurants to offer similar specials, and he has set up a cellphone number for the valet stand so customers can call ahead when they're ready to leave, and have their car waiting for them.

The service will be available on Feb. 14 for Valentine's Day, and on Feb. 24 for the Oscar party Walnut Grille is planning to host as a benefit for the Denis Theater Foundation.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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