Emphasis on comfort and good food at Skinny Pete’s Kitchen

Skinny Pete's Kitchen or, as the menu prefers to call the restaurant, "A unique luncheon and gourmet food destination," opened in Avalon last February, with a menu heavy on comfort foods served in an intimate and comfortable setting.

Neither of the co-owners, Tina Grindeland and Danielle Mashuda, lives in Avalon, but, as Tina said, "We knew the area from when we grew up. We had friends here, and we like the community."

The business partners also liked the California Avenue location. "It was ready to go," Tina explained. "There had been a restaurant here before, with a wood-fired oven that we now use to make gourmet pizza. And the dining area space is just right. We can seat about 30 people."

She mentioned pizzas, one size only, 10-inch topped with spinach and artichoke, tomato-parmesan shrimp flatbread, along with other flatbread offerings, as well as breadsticks with cheese, spinach and artichoke dip, as examples of their more popular specialties prepared in that wood-fired oven. They cook their pasta sauce in there, as well. Danielle pointed out that the oven is fueled by carefully selected wood. 'We use kiln-dried wood.”

"We have two chefs handling the cooking. They're very good at what they do. I do what they tell me to do," Tina said with a smile, admitting that she and Danielle do not run the kitchen, but instead apply their skills more to serving and managing everything in between, experiences gleaned from working in restaurants for several years.

"It was time for us to start our own," Tina said.

The menu includes a variety of salads, pastas and "Pete-wiches," with "Not Your Leftover Turkey Sandwich" -- a combination of roasted turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese and avocado with homemade roasted red pepper spread, all stacked between slices of Texas toast -- being one of the most popular offerings.

"People just keep getting it," Tina said. "Some come in and don't even bother to look at the menu."

Rounding out the offerings are breakfast selections and listings under "The Li’l Skinny" category for younger patrons.

Strong supporters of area entrepreneurs, the restaurant uses beef from Grove City and the local Gibsondale cheese. They purchase Amish-raised chicken from Ohio, and when it is available, produce grown on a farm located near Renfrew in Butler County. Patrons also can sip La Prima coffee from the brand's South Side location.

Skinny Pete's also promotes local artists, with watercolors and oils of Bellevue artist Phil Norris currently being displayed. "We will sell it for the artist, and we bring in a new collection every 90 days. It gets exposure for the artist and it changes our décor," Tina said. "And we also like to promote local music."

The restaurant business can be tough, but Danielle speaks for herself and Tina, saying, "We're glad to be here. We want our guests to enjoy coming here to eat. We want to make people happy. That's what you're in this business for."

Other essentials: The restaurant is located at 538 California Ave., Avalon; and is open Monday 8 a.m.- 3 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 8p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. For take-out, catering or reservations, call (412)415-0338. BYOB, $4 corkage. Menu and other information available at www.skinnypetes.com.

What else to know? Ah, yes! The answer to the question, "Why the restaurant name, Skinny Pete's?"

"My husband's name is Pete. A friend started calling him Skinny. I decided that if we ever opened a restaurant, that would be the name," Tina said.

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