Folks in Bellevue know that their dry town, without a single bar or beer distributor, has its own intoxicating charm. From Roberto’s, to Luigi’s in the center of town, to the more upscale Vivo a few doors down, or Affogato coffee house, Dietz’s Floral and Gifts, the Rusty Nail, homey Frankfurters hot dog shop and other boutiques, the 1-square-mile borough seems to have a bit of nearly everything.
Except for the movies, that is. The Bellevue Cinemas closed a few years back, but the dream of Bellevue didn’t die for many of those who are remaking the small borough. Sam DiBattista, a Coraopolis native, pushed forward with his recipe for revitalization—starting his own businesses (Vivo and Affogato) in the town he’s grown to love. His sister, Mary, and brother-in-law, Marty Armstrong, followed Marty’s dream and turned a small storefront into Frankfurters. Ed Dietz, a second-generation Bellevue merchant, continued to expand his business, and it is now the largest gift shop in the area. Luigi Della Ragione, a longtime staple of the borough’s restaurant community, recently moved and expanded his shop, after being in the same spot by the old movie theater for 20 years.
Bellevue has several places that foodies love, but increasingly, the borough is providing intellectual sustenance for the creativity-deprived. Project Bellevue is showcasing local artwork in various stores in the Bellevue business district. And now Bellevue has a workplace for creative minds. Thinktank, a shared workspace for computer types such as writers, designers and programmers, recently opened in the second floor of the old G.C. Murphy building, now known as the 517521 Building.
Thinktank will be celebrating its grand opening at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 1. The bash will include food, drink, music spun by several DJs, performances and a live graffiti artist as well as a dissident Chinese poet. Huang Xiang is here as part of the City of Asylum project at the Mattress Factory. Founding member Tom Buell, of Ben Avon, is organizing the party. More than 100 guests are expected, he said. Those interested in attending the shindig should contact Buell to get on the guest by sending a note to RSVP@thinktankpittsburgh.com.