Last-minute push from donors saves Sousa’s Braddock project |

Last-minute push from donors saves Sousa’s Braddock project

James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Kevin Sousa, restaurant owner/chef at Salt of the Earth Monday August 5, 2013 in Garfield.

It proved to be a productive weekend for Kevin Sousa — and Braddock.

The embattled town will become home to the newest project of the prominent Pittsburgh chef, thanks to the support of more than 1,700 people. Sousa hit his goal of raising $250,000 for a restaurant called Superior Motors, which he’ll open in a building that housed a former car dealership.

Sousa began a Kickstarter campaign a little over a month ago, and although it had steady support, one 24-hour period made all the difference. With Kickstarter crowd funding, the project starter has an all-or-nothing funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

Sousa’s idea was a hit. Donors contributed more than $100,000 between Sunday and the Monday deadline after project organizers hosted a party to express their gratitude to backers and the community.

“We viewed (the party) as a regrouping to talk about where we’d go from here,” said Sousa, owner of Salt of the Earth, Union Pig and Chicken and Station Street Food. “Frankly, we didn’t think we’d make our goal. Then Pittsburgh got behind it, and social media got behind it. It was incredible to watch.”

By Monday, the campaign hit nearly $275,000. Reaching the goal guaranteed the project a $40,000 challenge grant from The Heinz Endowments, slated for job training, Sousa said.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman owns the building and will provide it to Superior Motors rent-free. The longtime leader, who is dedicated to rebuilding his community, calls the outpouring of support “humbling.”

“At the risk of sounding corny, I feel like George Bailey,” Fetterman said with a laugh. “I can’t give (project supporters) enough credit.”

Fetterman said the campaign’s success is part of ongoing proof that Braddock is emerging as a desirable place to live and work.

“This is one more indication Braddock is on the upswing,” he said. “Every community deserves to be believed in.”

Sousa hopes to open his restaurant in early 2015. Superior Motors will embrace farm-to-table dining, utilizing produce from a two-acre urban farm one block away, a rooftop greenhouse and additional roof space to accommodate a raised-bed garden.

The restaurant will provide professional culinary training and opportunities at no cost to residents.

Sousa was one of Trib Total Media’s 25 People To Watch in 2014.

Rachel Weaver is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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