The Pittsburgh company that likes to say it made the South Side sweeter now has plans to make Downtown delicious. The Milk Shake Factory has signed a long-term lease for a retail space at the newly-opened Tower at PNC Plaza. It marks the company’s first expansion beyond its flagship South Side location, and it plans to sell its milkshakes, gourmet chocolates, sundaes, chocolate fondue and old-fashioned fountain drinks.
“We decided we wanted to shake things up Downtown,” says Gary Saulson, Director of Corporate Real Estate for PNC Financial Services Group (and yes, he was very proud of his pun). “It would have been very easy for us to get a chain restaurant in that space, but we wanted a well-known, Pittsburgh company. The Milkshake Factory is a destination for people on the South Side, and we know it will be a destination here.”
Chris Edwards, CEO of Mike Shake Factory’s parent company Edward Marc Brands says the company expects a different demographic at its Downtown location, versus its South Side shop. “We get a lot of students from CMU and Pitt at the South Side store, and we’re expecting more of a young professional customer at the new location,” he says. The retail space, which is about 2,135 square feet, is on Fifth Avenue, and will allow indoor seating for about 50 people, and in warmer weather, about 25 seats outside, Edwards says.
He adds that PNC has been a great partner in bringing the plan to fruition. “I think this really shows, again, PNC’s commitment to Pittsburgh and to Downtown.”
PNC unveiled its new Downtown Pittsburgh headquarters last month, a $400 million, 33-story glass skyscraper. Edward Marc Brands has been growing as well; it opened a 50,000-square-foot chocolate factory earlier this year in Lawrenceville, to supplement production at its Trafford plant. The company produces its sweet-and-salty snack product Snappers at the Lawrencville location.
Edwards says they’re envisioning the Milk Shake Factory space in the Tower at PNC Plaza will be available for birthday parties, where kids can come and make their own chocolate bars. And one service the company may offer to PNC employees in the Tower: A a chocolate cart that brings deliveries right to their desks.
“We’re really planning for this to be a full dessert experience,” Edwards says.
The store is slated to open in the first quarter of 2016, with Edwards hopeful they may be able to be up and running by Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest dates on the chocolate calendar.