Kevin Sousa fans champing at the bit to sample the eats at Superior Motors, his much-anticipated Kickstarter-funded restaurant in Braddock, are in luck.
This past Wednesday, the Pittsburgh chef announced a series of "R & D" pop-up dinners to be offered this spring in his very own home kitchen, as a way to show folks what the food will be like.
After so many months of planning, "it's time to get back in the kitchen," says Sousa, who recently was profiled on Eater.com.
The BYOB meals are sure to be one hot ticket: He says the first, on Feb. 2, sold out in five minutes after he tweeted a link for tickets on ShowClix. At 10:15 p.m., no less.
Mr. Sousa still can't pinpoint when, exactly, the 50-seat Braddock Avenue restaurant -- it sits opposite U.S. Steel's belching Edgar Thomson Works -- will open for business, other than to say it should be sometime in late spring. While original plans called for an early January/February opening, no one should be surprised that a project this nuanced and complicated would face delays, he notes.
"There's inevitably going to be problems when you're moving 100 tons of old concrete."
But now that all the permits are in order and actual construction has started -- they're pouring new concrete this week, and will begin framing as soon as it's cured -- things should move fairly quickly, he says.
In holding the pop-up dinners, all of which will have just 10 seats up for grabs, Mr. Sousa hopes to get both positive and negative feedback on menu items he'll be testing. In keeping with farm-to-table philosophy, dishes will be seasonal and locally sourced when possible.
"It's the same way we played with Salt before it opened," Mr. Sousa says, referring to the Garfield restaurant he launched in Sept. 2010 and sold in Feburary 2014 to architects and co-owners Doug and Liza Cruze.
With guests seated at his own kitchen table, expect the meals to be very personal affairs -- more like an intimate dinner with friends than a night on the town. "But the vibe will mimic some aspects of Superior Motors," he says, with open, minimalistic interior spaces and a gritty urban landscape on the outside.
Guests will either score a seat at a six-top in front of a large window overlooking the historic Carnegie Library across the street, or at the counter facing the open kitchen (and working chef). Cost is $85, plus tax, gratuity and service charge.
The seasonal menu for February's first dinner isn't yet set, but Mr. Sousa says it will feature seven courses, including grass-fed beef and Lampost Farm chicken. "It will be wintery, for sure."
Expect to see sous-vide action at future dinners, along with a "rustic impression" of the creative American food he's known for.
Proceeds benefit Superior Motors and Braddock Redux, a nonprofit that serves to better the community through training projects, art and green initiatives, and the creative re-use of existing projects. The restaurant is a case in point -- the site was one of the first indoor Chevrolet dealerships in the country, and the former convent next door eventually will house stagiaires and culinary and service interns.
For info on future pop-ups, you can follow Mr. Sousa and Superior Motors on Twitter @SM15104 or on Facebook.
Kevin Sousa photos