Among COVID Shutdowns, Two Pittsburgh-Based Businesses Expand

By: Kathryn Olon

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem as though most small businesses are suffering from decreased revenue and shutting their doors.  In fact, the Duquesne Business Law Informant covered small business closure as a phenomenon due to the coronavirus pandemic in October 2020.  But for two small Pittsburgh-based businesses, this decrease in business is not preventing expansion.

Just this week, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream announced that it will be opening its first franchise shop in the suburbs of South Fayette.  The expansion, touted as part of a “pandemic pivot,” is the first franchising step for the local business, which is presently taking legal and administrative steps to establish a full franchising program.

This news comes after franchisees Kayleigh Lucas and Kate Smerecky spent much of their time in 2020 bringing Millie’s Ice Cream to the citizens of the South Hills by taking Mille’s well-loved ice cream on the road with a mobile ice cream truck.  The two partners have secured a lease in the Gateway Shops, taking over a location formerly occupied by YoFresh Frozen Yogurt.  The new shop marks not only the first franchise for the Pittsburgh ice cream company, but also the shop’s first suburban location.  Millie’s Ice Cream currently operates shops in Shadyside, Lawrenceville, and downtown.

But Millie’s is not the only Pittsburgh-based business that is expanding despite the challenges of COVID.   Pittsburgh Brewing Co. recently announced that they will be building a new brewery in Creighton.  Operating at a former Pittsburgh Glass Works plant along the Allegheny River, the new building will allow Iron City Beer to do something that it hasn’t in 12 years: make its own beers.

Construction crews have already begun work to convert the 40-acre site into a brewery, complete with a new 100-barrel brewing system imported from Germany.  Although one of the primary reasons that Pittsburgh Brewing is building this new facility is to regain control of beer-making process, the location will assist in reaching Iron City’s current capacity demands of 150,000 barrels a year. The company hopes to open the doors of the new brewery in 2022. These new expansions potentially mark the beginning of a positive upward trend for small businesses in the area.  As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become more widely available, many individuals are becoming more comfortable with paying visits to their local small businesses.  And with small businesses expanding through franchising and opening new locations, it is becoming even more possible for customers to support their favorite localities despite the ongoing pandemic.

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