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North Side Sandwich Week Adds Diplomatic Mission To Celebration

Virginia Alvino
90.5 WESA

Don Mahaney is the reigning king of North Side Sandwich Week. He's the owner of Scratch Food and Beverage, whose Reuben sandwich was voted the best of the North Side in 2015.

The fifth annual North Side Sandwich Week kicked off Tuesday at his restaurant, and this year, it has an added mission.

“For the first time, we’ve decided we can use sandwiches to promote peace, love and understanding,” said Mark Fatla, Executive Director of the Northside Leadership Conference. For the first annual “Meat in the Middle” event, Fatla invited Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilwoman Darlene Harris – who maybe don’t always see eye to eye - to come together for lunch.

Peduto enjoyed Scratch's take on a banh mi, Harris, a ham salad sandwich. 

The two also signed a decree in which they "pledge mutual support for North Side and its sandwiches,” and “promote the free and unfettered rights of all Pittsburghers and its visitors to cross a river for a North Side sandwich.”

Both city leaders lauded the North Side’s new restaurants and investments as a sign of economic revitalization. But Mahaney said those rivers really can be a barrier. 

Mahaney opened Scratch last year. While new restaurants continue to open across the city, Mahaney said it's a risky industry, and it can be hard to get Pittsburghers to leave their neighborhoods. 

“Creating something unique in a space is what draws people over bridges and through tunnels," said Mahaney, "and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Fifteen North Side restaurants are participating in Sandwich Week. Events include the Sandwich Sampler and the Le Tour de Sandwich bike ride.

Virginia reports on identity and justice for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people see themselves in the community, and how the community makes them feel. Her reporting examines things like race, policing, and housing to tell the stories of folks we often don't hear from.