There is a new haunt for kosher carnivores. Grilliance, located at 2118 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill, is both a restaurant and full-service caterer.
Although situated in the former site of Aaron and Ari’s (and prior kosher eateries), Grilliance promises a new dining experience. Proprietors Aaron Siebzener and Yehuda Gutman boast Grilliance’s renovated settings, smorgasbord of offerings and homemade cuisine.
“Nothing is frozen,” said Gutman. “[The] burgers and onion rings are homemade.”
Both Siebzener and Gutman are recognized faces on the kosher dining scene. The former owns Milky Way, a kosher vegetarian and dairy restaurant, while the latter has been involved in food services for eight years. Although both Siebzener and Gutman are native Pittsburghers, Grilliance only began upon one of their departures. Gutman received a job offer in New York, left Pittsburgh, and several weeks later was contacted by Siebzener.
“My goal was always to have a place of my own,” said Gutman.
Aware of Gutman’s desire, Siebzener presented an idea. With the equipment and lease already accounted for, Siebzener told Gutman, “For little investment, we could try something new.”
Both men had long listened to customers’ wishes for a respectable venue. According to many, Pittsburgh lacked a fleishig establishment suitable for professional gatherings. Siebzener told Gutman, “Let’s bring this idea to life.”
At that point, even for food guys, the two got their hands really dirty. In order to create an optimal space, Siebzener and Gutman transformed the Murray Avenue storefront. With familial helping hands, they redid the ceilings and floors, wainscoted and painted the walls, installed a new speaker system and ordered a new display case, tables and chairs. Renovations lasted three months.
On June 9, Siebzener and Gutman held a trial run with friends and family.
Both men admit that the evening went “not well.” Problems with placement, presentation, timing and wait staff prevented Grilliance from the brilliance that Siebzener and Gutman desired.
At evening’s end, they recapitulated their errors. They stayed at the site until 5 the following morning. Siebzener said that, during those early hours, “we broke everything down.”
Overnight, Siebzener and Gutman reorganized the kitchen, solicited new wait staff and restructured various aspects of the dining experience.
On June 10, Grilliance publicly opened.
“It was awesome,” said Gutman.
Siebzener called it a “soft opening.”
“[It was] busy but not overly busy that anything went wrong,” he said. “We got our flow down.”
Grilliance has now been open for several weeks. Already, praises have arrived.
“The No. 1 compliment I’ve been hearing is about the service,” said Siebzener. “The staff knows the menu and is very friendly.”
Even with its favorable reception, Siebzener and Gutman are looking to the future.
“My hope is to make it bigger,” said Gutman.
“The most amazing thing would be to branch out,” he continued, “get a liquor license and [allow patrons] to pick up Shabbos orders.”
Perhaps more immediately Siebzener and Gutman plan to alter the street-side decor. By summer’s end, the duo hopes to hoist a new sign and lighting above Grilliance’s door. Other considerations are also underway.
Grilliance is open Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and can be reached at 412-421-2620.
(Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.)