Hair salon opens on Cochran Road
nside Salon Van Dyne, it’s easy to relax, kick back and be pampered.
With its charming decor—think floral wall art, an exposed brick wall and antique collectibles scattered throughout—the new Mt. Lebanon salon is a cozy, almost home-like, space where you can unwind and get your hair done.
Cindy Van Dyne, Jonquil Place, opened the new salon at 455 Cochran Road, Suite 4, in May.
“It’s such a joy to be there,” she said, noting her customers love the atmosphere inside the salon.
A stylist since 1979, Van Dyne is happy to talk about her work over the years at various salons across the South Hills and even, for a year, driving to her clients’ homes to style them.
She moved to the area from Wheeling, West Virginia, where she got her start working at Your Father’s Mustache. Over the years, she thought about opening her own salon, but ultimately put it on the back burner as she focused on health issues. Then, one day when she was getting her nails done at A&M Nails on Cochran Road, the salon owner told her that the space next door was for rent. It was the perfect location. So, she took her stimulus money to help get the salon up and running.
The salon features a loft, where stylist Margie Kondrich, owner of Hair by GiGi, operates. Because of the setup, there is plenty of social distancing.
“Our salon to me is a hidden gem,” Kondrich said.
“We’re always customizing things to each customer,” Van Dyne said.
For more on Salon Van Dyne, call 412-207-9036.
Gelato on Demand
n Italy, the town square is a place for gathering, where friends and family can enjoy a laugh over a good meal, fresh pastries or gelato.
Just like that, the Piccola Piazza company—which translates in English to small town square—aims to bring people together over the rich, traditional Italian flavors of their artisan made gelato.
“If somebody is happy because I made something good, it makes me happy,” said owner Antonio Sergio, of Parkview Drive. “I want to make a good product so that people can enjoy it. That’s my only mission.”
Sergio was born and raised in Calabria, Italy, where his family owned multiple food businesses, including a wedding venue, pastry and gelato shops and a pizzeria. While he helped with the businesses, Sergio was more of a heavy lifter than an intricate baker. He met his wife, Lee Anne Sgro, a Castle Shannon native, while both were living in Naples.
In 2012, when their two children were little, Sergio and Sgro decided to leave Naples for Mt. Lebanon, because they wanted a good school system and safe community for their children. But they immediately found one thing that was missing in the South Hills: a good pastry and gelato shop.
So, Sergio, a software engineer for many years who previously owned his own IT business, bought a small machine and began making gelato in their Parkview home for friends, family, office Christmas parties and reunions. Everyone loved it.
“When they try the amaretto or the hazelnut or the pistachio, they really go crazy,” he said.
Sergio used books and the internet to formulate a recipe. His friends became test subjects for his gelato making hobby. He selects his own choice natural ingredients for making gelato, sticking with traditional flavors like amaretto di saronno and cioccolato.
Sergio dreamed of someday opening a shop filled with Italian staples to sell the gelato. That almost happened just before the pandemic, but the world shutdown caused him to put a pause on his plans.
Instead, during the pandemic, he transformed the family room in their basement into a commercial-grade kitchen and received all of the permits needed to make and sell gelato from his basement kitchen.
“It’s like Willy Wonka in our house,” Sgro said with a laugh.
In August, Sergio opened Piccola Piazza, selling fresh-made gelato online and delivering the product in person. He recently bought a freezer for his car and has experimented with dry ice so that he can accommodate larger orders for parties.
To get the gelato just right is an art and a science. Once he found a good formula, he used his software engineering background to create a computer program that helps him formulate each recipe. Percentages of air, fat and protein affect the gelato’s taste and density. His type of gelato needs to sit out for a bit to soften, so he sells it in individual serving size containers to make for easy eating.
If all goes well, he hopes to buy a larger gelato making machine and someday open up a little town square storefront here.