Michael Sanders knows that good things happen to those who wait… and wait.
Three years ago, he told a friend about his idea for a cafe that would turn into a fancy cocktail bar at night.
The next day he saw a For Rent sign on a long vacant building at the corner of Penn and Highland avenues in East Liberty. Sanders took the literal sign as a message from the universe.
In July, his dream will finally come true when the former 3,200-square-foot department store is reborn in Margaux.
The place will open daily at 8 a.m. for coffee, tea, and breakfast options. The food is prepared by Chef Zane Thompson and his wife, Pastry Chef Lisa Wilson of Harrison’s fine pastries on boulevard Baum nearby. (The couple met while attending the downtown culinary school.)
Margaux is named after the wine region in France, but it also means “pearl”, an apt nickname for such a rare and beautiful concept.
“It’s modern and simple and stylish, but accessible,” says Sanders.
The living room aesthetic was inspired by artist Samantha Silvis, whose series of paintings now hang in the center of the space above the U-shaped bar. Sanders has also purchased works from other local artists. . He sees it as an investment in the community.
During the day, sunlight fills the large room. Guests can sit inside, which is furnished with comfortable sofas, chairs, and bench seats. Coffee tables will be set up on the sidewalk and brunch will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
When the sun goes down, things heat up. The pink glow of the Margaux neon sign creates an ethereal vibe. Bar manager Sarah Clarke will prepare classic and European-inspired cocktails with an emphasis on champagne and cognac. Customers can snack on an assortment of small sharing plates and late-night desserts.
Although Sanders owns Cafe-Club on the south side and based in Pittsburgh Opus One Productions, the live performances will not take place in Margaux. There will however be some cool playlists streamed through a state of the art audio system.
The show is already resonating with people. Over the past few weeks, Sanders has hosted Coffee and Cocktail Labs to give friends, family and industry insiders a taste of what’s to come, all while garnering their feedback.
Passers-by often stop and peek through the large windows, their eyes bulging in amazement.
Margaux was slated to open in 2020, but the pandemic has delayed those plans. Sanders says this gave his team time to polish the business.
He has already exceeded the expectations he had on that fateful night three years ago.