On the corner of Lincoln and North Fremont in Bellevue there is a 116-year old house. Over the years it has been many things—the home of a wealthy lawyer’s family, a doctor’s office, a dress boutique, a funeral parlor, and an abandoned building. Now, thanks to Bellevue residents Chris Driscoll and John King, it is about to become a restaurant.
Dubbed Revival on Lincoln, both because of its classical revival architecture style and its imminent rebirth, the new American fine dining restaurant is set to open before the end of September. Restoration of the 5,000-square foot building has been underway since March.
“It’s really an exercise in preservation and then finding an adaptive reuse for a building,” Driscoll says.
Driscoll, who’s spent his career in higher education IT, first saw the building in 2013 when he moved into a house just three blocks away. He was drawn to it immediately and imagined turning it into a bed and breakfast or apartments. Driscoll owns a few other historic properties, but this would be his biggest undertaking by far. Then, in 2017, he met King, who retired after serving as the executive chef at the Allegheny Country Club for 28 years. They decided that the house at 366 Lincoln Ave—which will be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019—should be a restaurant.
Ever since it’s been all hands on deck. King and Driscoll, along with their friends and neighbors, have been hard at work to bring the space back to life.
“We made it a point to use as many local contractors as possible,” Driscoll says. Revival has been a community project, with many Bellevue, McKees Rocks, and North Hills residents pitching in as contractors or just in their own free time as volunteers.
Tools are still strewn about the site, but their vision for the space is easy to see. Unlike most modern restaurants that feature a large, open dining room, Revival is still very recognizably a house first. Each of the main dining areas has unique features that Driscoll hopes to highlight by giving the rooms their own individual personality. In one room an emerald green fireplace was rediscovered under layers paint. Lead glass windows from the entrance are being restored to their former glory. The walls are being brought to life with rich coats of fresh paint, while antique velvet flocked wallpaper remains in the hallways.
Even Revival on Lincoln Executive Chef Jamie Sola can be found with a paintbrush in hand. Sola moved to Pittsburgh in 2012. He’s worked at places like Spoon in East Liberty and the Allegheny Country Club, where he first met King. At the Country Club, Sola focused on modernizing the dishes to bring members new dining experiences. He’s carrying that same idea to the kitchen at Revival.
“I want to keep people learning about food,” Sola says. His menu will feature classic American fare elevated by new elements and energetic plating that encourages diners to keep their forks moving around the dish in search of unique flavor combinations.
“We want to be welcoming to the classic image of Bellevue, but modern enough to go ahead and stand up for ourselves,” Sola says.
Just like the building itself, the food will bring together the old and the new, the classic and the modern. The menu posted on Revival’s website features selections inspired by global cuisines like a brown butter curry cauliflower salad, chorizo meatballs, and walleye ramen. More traditional American menu items include steamed mussels, roasted chicken, New York strip steak, and baked four cheese macaroni.
“The food will revolve somewhat around classic images and rusticness, but then you’re going to also see really nice clean-cut, layed-out dishes which are going portray more of the modern sense and the advancing techniques that we’re going to use,” Sola says.
Though an official opening date has yet to be announced, Driscoll and King expect to have their restaurant open by the end of the month. Guests will be able to make reservations online.
Revival will be open for dinner from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Diners who come to Revival on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m-2:30 p.m for brunch will see menu items like The Revival Omelet with bacon, shrimp, caramelized onions, goat cheese, tomato relish, and an arugula pistou sauce, as well as The Bellevue Irishman, complete with eggs, portabella, tomato, hash browns, and sausage from local butcher shop Tom Friday’s.
Driscoll says they plan to stay flexible as they open and adapt to the community response. In addition to the dining rooms on the main floor, Revival on Lincoln has an outdoor patio space that they hope keep open for as long as the weather permits. Behind the patio is a small structure separate from the main building that they call the “little house” which could be made into another bar or a small event space. Bellevue was a dry town from Prohibition up until 2015, but now Revival has a full liquor license that allows them to have a wide variety wines, beers, and spirits stocked on the bar.
They hope to appeal to food-lovers from all over the city, as well as longtime residents of Bellevue. Driscoll is a part of the community organization Bona Fide Bellevue, along with the interior designer for the project Susan Stabnau, who has lived in Bellevue since 1994. The group states that their mission is to “bring new growth and revitalization to our bustling neighborhood.”
Driscoll sees Revival on Lincoln as a community project not only because of all of the Bellevue residents involved in the restaurant, but because of the impact he hopes it will have on the neighborhood. He sees Revival on Lincoln as an anchor establishment that will help bring traffic into the area that will benefit the surrounding businesses.
“We feel it’s going to help bring the community back,” Driscoll says. “When people from other ends of town come here to eat, they’ll see what Bellevue has to offer.”
According to Driscoll, Bellevue is one of the only places that a project like Revival on Lincoln could work at all—where a beautiful, historic home that sits less than ten miles outside the downtown area of a major city can be affordably purchased and restored.
“This would only have worked in Bellevue,” he says. “We feel that everything is aligned here.”