This summer, new life will be brought to a familiar address in East Liberty.
In September, we learned that the Livermore, a popular bar located on the corner of Highland Avenue and Baum Boulevard, would be permanently closing. Known for their cerebral cocktails, the bar was the latest project to exist on the northern corner of the Werner Building.
Prior to the Livermore, the space was home to the Shadow Lounge, a longstanding East Liberty community space and bar. Later it was used by Carnegie Mellon University as the site for Conflict Kitchen and the Waffle House. The Bar Marco team took over the space in 2013, and turned it into the Livermore.
After a few vacant months, the space will once again be operational with new owners and a new concept. The team behind Hidden Harbor and The Independent Brewing Company – two successful bars in Squirrel Hill – have announced that they are currently developing a new bar in the space. The project aims open in early summer.
Unlike the tropical tiki bar Hidden Harbor, the new space won’t have a specific theme. Owner Adam Henry comments that the bar will represent a “culmination of their knowledge” from running a crazy tiki bar with fastidious drinks, and curating a menu of local beer at The Independent. While the drinks will be less flamboyant than Hidden Harbor, guests can expect the same attention to detail.
The bar aims to be an inclusive, neighborhood spot. Much of the development in East Liberty in past years has received backlash for raising property values and pushing out longtime residents of the neighborhood. Henry says these issues will be at the forefront of the conversation when developing the spot.
The announcement of the bar coincides with the addition of a new chef. James Beard-nominated chef Jamilka Borges (formerly of Bar Marco and Spoon) has joined the team as Executive Chef of all three bars.
This is not the first time Borges has cooked with Hidden Harbor. In December, Borges and her mother, Chef Jenny Muniz (both natives of Puerto Rico) teamed up with Hidden Harbor to host a fundraiser for El Buen Samaritano in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. El Buen Samaritano is Muniz’s Puerto Rican meal-service program that provides lunches to communities affected by the hurricanes.
While you’ll have to wait a few months to enjoy a drink at the new East Liberty bar, Borges has already started in the kitchen at The Independent and Hidden Harbor. The Independent now features a menu of refined, yet casual dishes like Korean Fried Chicken, Pickled Lamb, and Pork Meatballs. At Hidden Harbor guests can find Borges creating dishes that celebrate her native Puerto Rico, like Octopus Salad and Mofongo.
“We’re coming at it from the beverage side and hiring Jamilka allows us to learn from each other,” says Henry.
Once the East Liberty bar opens, Borges will prepare a separate, light menu for the space.