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Penn Brewery to open Downtown Pittsburgh tap room

| Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, 1:06 p.m.
Penn Brewery along Vinial Street in Troy Hill is expanding to two locations, with one site already operating at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Penn Brewery along Vinial Street in Troy Hill is expanding to two locations, with one site already operating at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

Troy Hill's Penn Brewery will expand to Downtown Pittsburgh with a small taproom on the ground floor of a First Avenue apartment building, the owners said.

Todd Palcic, owner of the First Avenue Lofts, said he'd been searching for a local craft brewery to partner with and occupy a 750-square-foot space on his building's ground floor. As a longtime customer, he was pleased to partner with Penn Brewery.

“I really wanted a reputable, well-liked operator, and (Penn Brewery co-owner) Sandy (Cindrich) has a great reputation,” Palcic said.

Cindrich said she hadn't considered expanding until Palcic offered the space Downtown.

“We went over and looked at the space, and really fell in love with the area,” she said.

Palcic and Cindrich can take advantage of state law that allows licensed breweries to open satellite tap rooms without buying additional liquor licenses — which could easily cost a new bar in that space $75,000 to acquire, Palcic said. The loft space will be consistent with the existing historic, simple aesthetic Penn Brewery has at its current brewery and restaurant off Vinial Street.

“With taprooms, people are fine with ‘simple is better,'” Palcic said.

Cindrich said the space will seat about 30 people inside, with room for eight to 10 more outside. There will be 10 to 12 beers on tap, with a mix of the brewery's year-round offerings and its small-batch seasonal brews. It won't have a full kitchen, but may offer 12 to 14 items from the Troy Hill restaurant's menu like salads, flatbreads and sandwiches, she said.

As a narrow street at the edge of Downtown, First Avenue was “the last frontier” for the central business district's redevelopment, Palcic said. With a mix of nearby restaurants and shops that were primarily focused on serving Downtown workers lunch, he and Cindrich hoped to work with other business owners and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to expand hours and activity into the evenings. Up until Distrikt opened its hotel bar on the Boulevard of the Allies, there were no other bars within several blocks.

A larger, 1,500-square-foot space next door offers the opportunity for expansion of Penn Brewery or another taproom — even one for local wine and spirits, he said.

Palcic was hoping to have the taproom open in time for the holidays; though he acknowledged that Light Up Night or Thanksgiving would be too early, he said First Night — the city's New Year's Eve celebration — was a more realistic goal.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, or on Twitter @msantoni.

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