Rania’s To Reopen Popular Cafe

Rania’s Owner Melanie Hoover and Executive Chef RJ Favro plan to reopen cafe in December.

A familiar place to grab a quick bite Uptown is reopening.

The former Rania’s To Go is a go! Under the name Rania’s, the popular cafe is tentatively set to open at 100 Central Square Monday, December 4.

While Rania’s Catering, a Washington Road staple for four decades, continued operating during the pandemic, Rania’s To Go shut down in 2020 and didn’t reopen—until now.

Rania Harris, Washington Road, sold the business to Executive Chef Aaron Hoover when she retired in January 2022. If Rania’s name sounds familiar, she’s the host of Cooking With Rania, a weekly segment on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live. 

Upon Hoover’s death in February of this year, the business passed down to his wife, Melanie. “The business became mine and I decided to keep it moving and grooving and was able to do so, thank goodness, with the help of all the staff that really stepped in,” she said.

Enter Executive Chef RJ Favro, with 20 years experience, 15 of them in super fine dining, at, among other places, Nemacolin.

He’d been looking for a place to work in Pittsburgh.

“Came here. The people are great. Right away, I heard the story. Made my heart jump a little bit. I was like, I really want to help her grow this place. I have a vision for it,” Favro said.

In addition to the grab and go offerings of the past, Favro envisions a place where customers can sit down, have a sandwich and chat over a cup of coffee. He wants to hold wine tastings and pairings, and possibly paint and sip events, as well as chef classes. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to do well,” said Hoover. “I think the community’s pretty excited from what I hear,” she said.