To beat the odds, you have to go against the grain and find comfort in your roots. For Curtis Drane, of Flavors Famous Street Food, there’s no better style of business than Chicagoean cuisine.
Often specific to Chicago, the street food served at Drane’s restaurant ranges from sandwiches and gyros to tacos and seafood.
“The inspiration was to bring more small neighborhood restaurants in our community that had more variety, and for me, that was not something that I’d not seen here in Pittsburgh going to the different suburbs that serve our community,” said Drane. “Coming from Chicago, I’d go to a restaurant [back home] and I’d find street tacos, polish sausages or fried shrimp. A little more variety.”
As a husband and father, Drane quickly noticed that getting a family dinner wasn’t as simple in Pittsburgh as it was in his hometown.
“If I want one thing, my wife wants another, and my son wants something else, I’d have to go to three different places to get it,” said Drane.
With such an array of menu options, it took Pittsburgh-natives a while to get adjusted to the Chicagoean way of eating.
“What I learned about Pittsburghers, is that after all these years, they’ve gotten used to one style of eating and one-item restaurants.” “I understood that there would be a learning curve for the people of Pittsburgh and that it would take time for them to embrace it. The key to embracing it is that they have to like the food.”
In its first year of business, Flavors Famous Street Food took a hard hit from Pittsburghers who did not quite understand the restaurant’s purpose. The confusion was furthered by the bright yellow and red building covered in posters advertising the various food items sold inside.
Fortunately, the confusion didn’t last long. Drane says once customers got a taste of what Flavors Famous Street Food had to offer, they were hooked.
“After a period of time, people would come inside and try one thing – and that’s all I needed them to do,” said Drane. “They became hooked and would frequent us more.”
Flavors Famous Street Food now sees a regular surge of familiar faces in return customers including policemen, plant workers, local families and more. The Northside business has also seen patrons from states like West Virginia who were encouraged to dine with the Black-owned establishment.
While Drane has fashioned his business after the ways of the Windy City, his restaurant expertise covers many cities including Detroit, Michigan, Fort. Meyers, Floria, and more.
The Chicago-style restaurant will soon be expanding to the Hill District as one of the tenants in the New Grenada Square building.