Sport Clips Haircuts: It’s Good to Be an Owner

Let’s face it, getting your hair cut it kind of a chore! At Sport Clips, located at 3614 Forbes Avenue in Oakland, they’ve turned something that you have to do into something you want to do. Owner, A.J. Rodriquez, opened Oakland’s Sport Clips in February 2015 and is fixated on giving his clientele – not just an ordinary haircut – but a fantastic experience. “We love our client mix in Oakland. We get everyone from business professionals, to healthcare workers, to students looking for a good haircut before their weekend,” said A.J. “It’s so rewarding having opened a store in Oakland giving opportunities to our team members closer to the city, as well as serving the clients in the Oakland market…. I love providing great value to our customers and being a part of the community,” continued A.J.

One may not know the difference between a fade, a pompadour, a cropped fringe or faux mohawk, but Sport Clips’ ‘guy-smart stylists’ sure do! Sport Clips is known for their Signature MVP Haircut Experience where clients receive a precision haircut and a hot steamed towel on their face – all while receiving a scalp, neck and shoulder massage. “We have all the products the pro’s use, so make sure to stop in for a holiday gift!” said A.J. “And all UPMC and University of Pittsburgh employees get $2 off any service!”

Oakland’s Sport Clips is currently the first and only store in an urban area of Pittsburgh. “We decided to go to Oakland because of the consistent development and improvement of the area, and felt our services were needed in the market,” said A.J. Oakland’s location has eight talented team members led by store manager, Andrea.

Make ‘going to Sport Clips in Oakland’ your New Year’s resolution – especially in the spring! “We are looking forward to our St. Baldrick’s event in March around Saint Patrick’s Day where we raise money and awareness for Childhood Cancer by hosting a head-shaving event!” said A.J.

A.J. (left) and his father Al Rodriquez (right) are co-owners of a Sport Clips franchise in Oakland and have enjoyed almost 3 years in the business district.

Sport Clips
3614 Forbes Avenue 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
(412) 681-2345
Monday – Friday9am-8pm

Puccini’s Hair Design: Personal Professionals for an Honest Price

If you head down to Oakland’s very own Puccini’s Hair Design (Located at 237 Atwood St.) a little earlier than your appointment, you will be greeted by Sal Puccini with a warm “Hello!” followed by, “We’ll have you ready in just a second. In the meantime, would you like something to drink?—comes with the haircut.” Sal stresses the importance of taking care of his appointments, but he truly goes the extra mile. Case in point: How many hairdressers have a complementary refreshments bar while you wait?

That’s not all—Puccini’s follows the slogan it champions: “When you look good, you feel good” but in this sense, they apply it to their very own establishment. With a fresh coat of paint on the walls, beautiful décor around the room, vibrant music, and new chairs catered to the customer’s comfort, Puccini’s looks good so you feel good as soon as you step in to the establishment.

This most recent set of installments to Puccini’s is just another example of how its owners have catered to their Oakland customers over the last 43 years under the supervision of Sal’s father and namesake, Salvatore Puccini. At the age of 16, Salvatore Puccini Sr. suffered the loss of his father, forcing him to make an adult decision that others were not even capable of processing at a young age, and that decision led him to Pittsburgh Beauty Academy. After a long and determined struggle, Salvatore Puccini opened the flagship store of Puccini’s in Oakland.

At its roots, Puccini’s has always been about servitude to its clients, and the Puccini family have made sure this was shown through action over words. “We make sure our people are taken care of,” assures Sal. When he says people, Sal refers to both those who come into his doors to get serviced as well as those who come into his doors to provide the service.

“People see how much we charge and ask us, ‘Why this price? Are you guys any good?’ and I have to tell them that all of our stylists are very much experienced, we just know what a fair price is,” explains Sal, “and despite this, we still make sure we pay our people right.”

Puccini’s Hair Design blends personal care, professional stylists, and honest prices that Oakland’s mostly college-income inhabitants can feel great about. Sal Puccini invites you to sit back, refresh yourself, and watch as Sal and his team make sure you leave looking good and feeling even better.

Avenu Company Spotlight: WebKite

WebKite is a small advertising technology company located at our 1936 Fifth Ave. studio. They specialize in marketing inventory on search and social exchanges like Google, Bing and Facebook. They work with major brands in automotive, real estate, healthcare and consumer goods to create highly-specific product ads that motivate buyers to click and purchase. WebKite’s products leverage machine learning for the benefit of the everyday business owner seeking to sell more of their specialized, high-margin inventory. Their core belief is that much of advertising today does not account for the benefits of where technology and consumer behavior intersects – they are fixing that. Read more from the perspective of CEO, Mark Heckmann.

What is one thing people are surprised to learn about your company?
You would be surprised to learn that in our early days, WebKite routinely hired PhD Philosophers and trained them how to code as software engineers. We found that these types of professionals were expert in solving logic problems, which is fundamental to many programming challenges our company faced at the time. It made for a very interesting work environment and a great mixture of intellectual strengths within teams.

What is one goal for 2018?

One goal for 2018 would be to further productize in our key verticals. We “grew up” in automotive, and that expertise created residual opportunities in real estate and healthcare. We have plenty of use cases to solve for in those markets, so I’m looking forward to deepening our understanding and our offerings in those verticals.

Why Avenu?
Avenu has proven to be a key part of our success. Our company has fluctuated in size over the years, but the diversity of real estate holdings allowed us to move and remain in a tax-advantaged location without disrupting our operation. The staff continues to be very supportive of our business and understanding of any needs we have. I have always liked the residual benefits of being near downtown but locating in an up-and-coming area like Uptown – my team supports local businesses and appreciates how the neighborhood continues to evolve. I personally identify with how Avenu positions it’s coworking strategy as but part of a larger vision; where other office spaces would treat our being there as simply just another rental agreement, Avenu integrates you into its larger roster of promising companies and innovation players. That’s a serious amenity, almost better than the free parking!

Oakland Welcomes Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh Oakland/University Place

Left: Kimberly Baverso, Assistant General Manager; Cindy Dohmlo, General Manager; David Cocco, President and CEO at North Star Lodging & Development

The Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh Oakland/University Place, located at 3341 Forbes Avenue in Oakland, opened earlier this summer on June 21. This 10-story, 144 all-suite custom Residence Inn has everything a visitor needs for an extended stay in Oakland’s commercial district.

David Cocco, President and CEO at North Star Lodging & Development, is proud of the building’s construction and recent opening, and he looks forward to giving residents a pleasant experience.

“For our residents, our focus will always be to provide all the comforts and conveniences of home,” said Cocco. “Extended stay hotels are driven by the ‘eds and meds’ market and we know that Oakland is the hub of those.”

There are plenty of perks to staying at the Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh Oakland/University Place, including:

  • Outdoor courtyard with a large hearth fireplace and gas heat-lamps
  • Complimentary shuttle service
  • Fitness center
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • 24-hour market
  • Complimentary hi-speed internet
  • Complimentary (and customizable!) hot breakfast buffet

The hotel has a ‘Residence Inn Mix’ – a social program offered to the residents Mondays through Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s Make Your Own Soda on Mondays, Off The Grill on Tuesdays and Local Fare–provided by a featured local restaurant–on Wednesdays.

“The residents love it, and we encourage them to relax and enjoy what we have to offer!” said Cindy Dohmlo, General Manager.

The hotel has three different floor plans: Studio Suite (350 s.f.), 1 Bed (495 s.f.) and 2-Bed (700 s.f.) and all the modern amenities an Oakland over-nighter needs and more.

“Each room even has a full size kitchen equipped with a fridge, dishwasher, microwave – even china, silverware and pots and pans!” said Dohmlo. “The televisions have smart ports for gaming, Netflix, Hulu… And even the pull-out sofa beds have outlets for convenience.”

“We’re proud that we had the collaborative efforts from everyone involved in the development of this hotel: MassaroConstruction Group as our general contractor keeping everything on time and on budget, Hospitality Furnishings & Design for executing their ‘urban/European interior design-work’, TKA Architects, Marriott International and of course the Oakland community,” said Cocco.

The Garden Grille and Bar – Passion & Creativity In Every Bite

The Garden Grille and Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh University Place located at 3454 Forbes Avenue in Oakland is your next stop to taste passion and creativity in every bite you take.

Larry Broderick, Director of Sales, and Chef Andrew Thompson know what food service is all about: remarkable hospitality and willingness to go above and beyond to give people an exceptional dining experience. From fresh and local seasonal menus to customized cuisine for events or grilled outdoor fast casual, The Garden Grille and Bar is always prepared to dish out quality.

On top of their everyday menu, The Garden Grille and Bar has seasonal menus that change every three to four months, and you know it’s fresh because its ingredients rely, well, on the season! Selections on the seasonal menus are mainly supplied from local farms, and the specials span over appetizers, sandwiches and salads, entrees, and even desserts.

“Our number one seller on our seasonal menu is our Greek Lamb Burger made with locally sourced lamb from Jameson Farms in Latrobe,” said Chef Thompson.

He said a new menu will debut mid-August.

Every Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., you can catch some fun lunch items outside of The Garden Grille and Bar – right at the corner of McKee Place and Forbes Avenue.

“If you’re hungry and you want fast, we can do that here! At our Thursday grill-outs, we offer a grilled protein/vegetable, a side, and a water or soda all for $8. There’s something special about this one-day-a-week cookout,” said Broderick.

When the weather is on point, these Thursday grill-outs have served more than 70 people. 

The quality doesn’t stop there. The Garden Grille and Bar will even create customized foods and drinks for special events. “In my 27 years in the hotel industry, I can say Chef Andrew is one of the most talented chefs I’ve ever worked with,” said Broderick. “We once did an event for the Monroeville Rotary during the Kentucky Derby and Chef Andrew and his team re-created the official Kentucky Derby menu – serving everything from the official entrees, drinks, and even the salad… crawfish and red beets which everyone loved!”

“Our Culinary Supervisor, Mary Oravec, is also very talented and once set up an international-inspired tea station for an event,” said Chef Thompson. “We like sit down with people and say ‘here is our menu, but what do YOU want?”

With an exceptional team, everyone on staff shines both inside and outside of the workplace.

“The little things we do really resonate with customers. Through our Bright Hearted Committee, we like to recognize outstanding staff, said Chef Thompson. “We also love giving back to the community through events like holding ice cream socials at the local Veterans Hospital or having teams for the Pittsburgh Superhero Run in North Park to raise awareness of child abuse and the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.”

You don’t need to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn to enjoy this phenomenal food and hospitality either.

“When you’re at the intersection of Forbes and McKee, look up! We’d love to have you in for a bite,” said Broderick. “People don’t think that they’re foodies, but we all are! When we eat something it will always remind us of an experience, and The Garden Grille and Bar gets that.”