As Restaurants Close In Market Square, Some Worry Banks Are Moving In

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In recent years, Market Square has become a foodie paradise, attracting locals and visitors alike to its many restaurants.

But that could be changing as some restaurants close during this pandemic. Some downtown leaders are worried that Market Square is changing for the worse.

“Where does it end? It’s ruining Market Square,” says John Valentine, executive director of the Downtown Community Development Corporation.

Valentine is worried that big banks will take over restaurant locations in Market Square. His latest concern? Rumors that the closed Bruegger’s Bagels will become a branch for Chase Bank.

“That’s more outdoor dining that we could lose,” Valentine told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.

Valentine says it began with the Diamond Market Bar & Grill closure that made way for Bank of America.

“It took away all this outdoor dining. And when they took away the outdoor dining, it took away a lot of the vibrancy in that quadrant. You can walk by there and see there’s no energy,” Valentine said.

Nick Nicholas, who owns several buildings in Market Square including the Bruegger’s site, would not go on camera, but he told Jon Delano that a lease with Chase is far from a done deal.

He says he’d rather see a restaurant in there if someone is interested in that site or the now-closed NOLA restaurant, which he also owns.

In the meantime, Valentine says he wants a city ordinance prohibiting banks from Market Square.

“Other cities have ordinances. You can take a large city like San Francisco that has an ordinance that banks can’t go into the business districts,” says Valentine.

It’s not clear the city can do that under state law, but Valentine says supporters of Market Square need to encourage more restaurants to take the place of the closed ones because if the banks take over, Market Square is no longer a destination.