For years, supermarkets have competed with restaurants by offering their own prepared meals. Even neighborhood stores have embraced the trend. Take Allegheny City Market. When Mike Mitchell bought it, in 2014, the Central North Side storefront was a deli with sandwiches. That’s all still there, but lately Mitchell has been moving more into ready-to-eat hot foods.
This past summer, for instance, he and business partner Gary McAfee bought a used Baker’s Pride pizza oven, made room for it behind the deli counter, and in late September started turning out pies. The savory thin-crust pies — I recently sampled a medium with red onion and green peppers — are hand-tossed, with fresh dough (made off-site for now) and home-made sauce. There are specialty pies like seafood (shrimp, scallops and crab) and even Mexican (taco meat, refried beans, etc.). And Mitchell responded to customer requests with a line of vegan pizzas, featuring non-dairy cheese.
The market also now complements its salads and sandwiches — including the neighborhood-themed Randyland Reuben and its popular breakfast sandwiches — with home-made soups and dinners, including pasta dishes and chicken parmesan.
“We just need more people to know that we’re doing this stuff,” says Mitchell. Not that, with his restaurant background, he minds. “I enjoy this,” says Mitchell. “I love to cook.”