Former Rollier's store to become art gallery, cafe
The big, red barn-like building at a prominent corner in Mt. Lebanon will get a new tenant next spring when Koolkat Designs and the owners of Rollier's Hardware turn it into an art gallery, teaching space and cafe.
Formerly home of Rollier's and the A.B. Charles hobby shop, the building at the corner of McFarland and Beverly roads will reopen as The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, a joint venture between the two businesses in Mt. Lebanon's nearby Uptown business district along Washington Road.
“I had been looking to expand, but I didn't initially plan such a large expansion,” said Kate McGrady, owner of Koolkat Designs.
The first floor of the building, which is being cleared for renovations, will have a showroom for artists' wares and a cafe stocked with food by Strip District-based Enrico Biscotti, along with a small area for performances.
The lower level will have more showroom space, an exhibition gallery for revolving art shows and a space for teaching.
Doug Satterfield, who owns Rollier's with his brothers Bob and Chuck, will get his own small, private pottery studio in the building, McGrady said. Her coworker at Koolkat, Kate Wagle Hitmar, will stay on at The Artsmiths as creative director.
“We owned the building, she owned the business,” Doug Satterfield said in an announcement of the business venture Monday.
“We decided to put our best qualities together, combine our strengths, and to bring something unique to Pittsburgh at a scale not usually seen. We share the vision and want to see this develop.”
The Satterfields are covering the cost of renovating the building, which was a construction zone Monday when the partnership was formally announced. The family was attending a trade show out of town and could not be reached for comment.
McGrady said Koolkat has relationships with 150 to 200 artists who would sell their wares on consignment at the Washington Road shop, but its small size limited them mostly to jewelry and a small selection of other media.
“We'd been doing business a long time, eight years of talking to people, but we had a lot of people we know we wouldn't be able to represent properly in a small space,” she said.
With two floors totaling 10,000 square feet, the former Rollier's building will give The Artsmiths 10 times as much space as Koolkat.
Expanding and rebranding as The Artsmiths will allow them to sell even more, including more sculpture, ceramics, woodworking, tapestries and large paintings.
The opening date will depend on how soon contractors can rebuild the business's parking lot in the spring, when weather is warm enough to make asphalt, McGrady said. The building had been vacant since March 2013.
“I love Uptown, and it'll be very difficult for me to leave,” she said. “Most of our customers are destination customers; they're coming specifically for us as opposed to walking in. ... Moving gives them all the free parking they want.”
“I'm very excited to see that vacancy (at the barn) filled. It's a very prominent and distinctive building,” said Mt. Lebanon commercial districts manager Eric Mill-iron. “Though it's kind of bittersweet, because Koolkat has been a phenomenal business to have Uptown.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.