Fried chicken joint ‘The Eagle’ to land in Downtown Pittsburgh
A highly touted fried chicken restaurant will be the first commercial tenant for the Eighth and Penn development in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Thunderdome restaurant group is bringing The Eagle, a casual, family-style eatery specializing in southern fried chicken, to the first floor of the building with a target date for opening in the late fall.
It’s a first sign of what is in store for the project to rehabilitate and connect the McNally Building at 711 Penn Ave. and the Bonn Building at 713 Penn.
Trek Development Group and its partner, Q Development, had been looking at those historic buildings for the last 10 years. The two structures include apartments that will be available for leasing in May and open in July. The total redevelopment effort cost about $47 million.
William Gatti, TREK President and CEO, said The Eagle will take up 6,000 square feet at the corner of Eighth Street and Penn Avenue.
“I can’t wait to try it, because apparently it’s the best fried chicken in the world,” said Gatti. “They just set out to make the best, polished, casual restaurant they could.”
The Pittsburgh location will be the fifth for Thunderdome to go along with Eagle locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville.
“It’s been awarded best fried chicken in every city that we’re in,” said Joe Lanni co-founder of Thunderdome which also owns the Bakersfield taco restaurant chain with a Downtown location on Penn Avenue.
The Eagle will have craft beers and cocktails, but it’s the chicken that will draw them in, Lanni said.
“We start by sourcing a real nice bird, no antibiotics ever,” he said. “And then we make a brine with real herbs and lemons and soak it for a minimum of 24 hours. We have special, pressure fryers that allow us to get a juicy interior and crispy exterior.”
Gatti said the restoration was not easy. The buildings looked like vacant warehouse space that had been out of use for many years.
“We believe in historic restoration,” said Gatti. “Our old buildings are important visual markers that connect us to our past. If we can find a way to repurpose them in a meaningful way and knit them back into the community, and put them back in use, then I feel we have succeeded.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].