Peters Entrepreneur Expands Pittsburgh Food Scene

AMPD Group partner Adam DeSimone discusses his latest hospitality venture, Steel Cactus in Shadyside, with Patch readers.

A resident started with one, high-energy nightclub in 2006 and has now expanded his brand of nightlife and restaurants to seven locations—most recently with the addition of Steel Cactus in Shadyside.

Adam DeSimone, 33, a South Park native, started AMPD Group—with his brother and father, Michael, 32, and Patrick, while opening Diesel Club Lounge in South Side.

The dynamic entertainment and hospitality development and management company has grown its portfolio from two locations in 2010 to seven locations this year with six unique concepts in the restaurant, bar, live music and nightclub categories.

DeSimone got his start as a DJ during his high school and college years. The Duquesne University graduate studied finance and investment management and is a licensed commercial real estate broker.

His younger brother, Michael, joined the entrepreneurial DJing effort as they set up shop as a mobile business traveling around the tri-state area working proms, weddings, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

Fresh out of college, Michael became a planner with American Eagle Outfitters.

Soon after, Diesel was born. Then Dominic's Famous Deli & Bottle Shop in PNC Park, Local Bar + Kitchen, Delanie’s Coffee and Steel Cactus. Skybar opens in late October. 

“We built all of our businesses out of Diesel,” DeSimone said. “It’s crazy to reflect upon. Our portfolio compliments our other venues.”

Local, DeSimone describes, is an upscale bar serving American fare and wood-fired oven pizzas. Steel Cactus, which opened on Walnut Street less than a month ago, is an authentic Mexican restaurant “with American twists to it.”

The restaurant was one time occupied by the Mexican eatery Cozumel. 

“Steel Cactus is tough to define," he said. "The food is phenomenal and we’ve received a ton of positive responses.”

The open kitchen boasts a menu of items prepared from scratch, trendy drinks and a selection of wines and craft beers.

Looking for a Cantina party and a rooftop place to perch? Steel Cactus features Shadyside’s largest rooftop deck—2,400 square feet—with dining service, an island bar, restrooms and a semi-private party space. DeSimone said a retractable roof system, convenient for winter months, is currently being installed.

Interior was everything with this new space, according to DeSimone. The hotspot has design features such as ancient ship wood, wrought iron detail, rivets and distressed Mexican lighting—not to mention 15 original Mexican masks.

The storefront, with black steel trimmings throughout, overlooks Walnut Street and sits aloft Victoria’s Secret across from the Apple Store. Lit cacti made of steel complete the interior look, he said.

“You forget that you’re in Pittsburgh," DeSimone said. "While you experience the atmosphere, you couldn’t think of a better place to be.”

Currently, AMPD Group is closing its property, Mozaik Lounge in Columbus, OH, after four years of business, and reopening it as Diesel Columbus in October. A Dominic's will accompany the venue, which is totally being remodeled. 

"We are super excited for that one," he said.

There's no stopping there—the company has three projects in the design phase for 2013.

DeSimone resides in Peters with his wife, Megan, and their two kids.

For more information and Facebook page links to all AMPD Group properties, click here.

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