Friday, August 6, 2010

Cafe Zao Closing Monday


Contact: Veronica Corpuz


Chef Toni Pais closes Café Zao in the Cultural District

PITTSBURGH, PA -- Award-winning chef and restaurateur Toni Pais has decided to close his downtown dining establishment, Café Zao, located at 649 Penn Avenue in Theater Square, a project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The restaurant doors will close officially on Monday, August 9, 2010.

J. Kevin McMahon, CEO and President of the Cultural Trust, says “Toni has been a pioneer in the Cultural District. By opening Café Zao, he spearheaded the growth of more than a dozen restaurants in and immediately around the Cultural District. Café Zao set the standard for fine dining experiences in the Cultural District, and we are grateful to him for his bold vision and mettle that brought a lot of energy and momentum to the ongoing economic development of Pittsburgh.”

“I am excited to pursue other culinary projects and to focus my attention on Café Zinho,” says Chef Pais. “Balancing between the two restaurants took a lot of energy, and I’m looking for a more long-term sustainable approach to my work that affords me the time to be as creative and innovative as possible. “

Since 1999, Mr. Pais has owned Café Zihno (which means “small café” in Portuguese) in Shadyside, and between 1999 and 2004, he operated the upscale, highly acclaimed Baum Vivant. A native of Portugal, Mr. Pais was born into a family of chefs and began his formal culinary education at the age of 13. For over 25 years, he has lived in Pittsburgh where he first met his wife and business partner, Becky, in 1986.

Opened in 2004, Café Zao (which translates to “big café” in Portuguese) occupied 3,000 square feet within the Theater Square complex located in the heart of the Cultural District on Penn Avenue. The restaurant seated 75 people and served Portuguese cuisine with Northern Italian, French and American influences. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust plans to seek restaurateurs interested in renting the venue and to utilize it in the interim as a rental space for private events.


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