If you thought Homestead’s 8th Avenue business district would take a hit with Smoke BBQ Taqueria moving to Lawrenceville, you’re in for a surprise.
A new multi-dimensional venture from local artist/entrepreneur and former Steelers running back Baron Batch is taking over the former restaurant space, primed to serve many purposes. He’ll use the kitchen to churn out jars of Angry Man salsa, a hot and versatile condiment in the tradition of Batch’s West Texas roots—he grew up in Midland, Tex., and attended Texas Tech in Lubbock.
Batch started making the salsa as a hobby a few years ago. First he gave it to friends and family then he started selling batches online. The salsa has already garnered significant demand through internet sales with many of his clients ordering shipments back to his home state.
But the space at 225 E 8th Avenue will be more than just a small-time salsa factory. It’s also going to be home to Batch’s multimedia marketing company, Studio A.M. It will include a video production studio run by friend and business partner Chad Calcagno.
Additionally, it will showcase hand-crafted furniture from fellow former NFLer John Malecki, a native of Murrysville.
“When it comes to furniture, there’s not a store really tailored for guys or masculine style,” says Batch, who also makes some of his own furniture. “If you’re a guy and you just want a badass coffee table, you’re going to know where to go now.”
On top of its three entrepreneurial aspects, Batch has a much deeper vision for the space itself. He sees it as a place where Pittsburgh creative types can gather to exchange ideas and learn from one another.
“What’s going to happen here is we’re going to pull all of this stuff together and have a place where we have open, creative talks,” Batch says. “Once a week or so, we’ll encourage creative types to just show up and we’ll have a get-together. Being able to sit down with people who want to talk and share ideas is invaluable as far as that process goes.”
Batch, known as a creative type, writes and blogs, and after tearing his ACL during his rookie year with the Steelers, took up painting. He’s already shown his work in galleries across the country.
“This is going to be a collaborative space,” he says as a technician turns the building’s electricity on for the first time. “If you need somewhere to write from, this is going to be a place you can come. Even if you just need to sit down with another writer and just talk out ideas or strategies. It’s the simple things that really mean a lot to creative people but I think too often get overlooked.”
Batch says he anticipates the space will be ready for salsa production in a few weeks, and that it will be ready to open to the public by July.