European inspired: James Cafe offers upscale coffee and healthy fare on the Strip


Jcoffee souls in the Strip District is a European-style cafe owned by Canadian real estate developers who have fallen in love with Pittsburgh’s architectural heritage.

And they want to continue that legacy with a number of mixed-use properties across the city.

Brett Walsh and Breanna Tyson, a married couple raising a family (and a few properties) in the neighborhood, opened the business in August. It is located at 2550 Smallman St. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.


Inspired by their travels abroad in the kitchen and stylish decor, the cafe sells a range of hot and frozen drinks, breakfast sandwiches, pastries, caramelized grapefruit, soups, salads, platters deli meats and wraps to take away. Over time, they hope to expand the menu to make James Cafe, which bears the middle name of their eldest daughter, a brunch destination.

“The customers create the atmosphere as much as the owners,” says Tyson, originally from Vancouver. “We already have a lot of regulars. We go through the menu, make changes, see who our customers are and what our offerings should be. We want to bring fresh, light, healthy food and a different experience to Pittsburgh.

The husband and wife team has a partnership with the Brooklyn-based company Varied coffee and collaborate with local businesses such as Best granola ever and Mediterra Bakery. From November 19, Farmer’s Daughter’s Flowers will set up a pop-up shop there on weekends through the end of 2022. Walsh and Tyson want to team up with more entrepreneurs who can use the space in the evenings after the restaurant closes.


The cafe, which has seasonal sidewalk seating, is located on the ground floor of 2554 Smallman St., a building erected by their Pittsburgh-based company. Properties of Hullet. The residential steel structure has 27 condominiums, all of which are occupied.

Walsh and Tyson own several sites in the Strip, downtown and Bakery Square in Larimer that they plan to turn into mixed-use facilities that they believe will improve the urban lifestyle.

One of their ongoing projects is to revitalize the 156-year-old Triangle Building at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Smithfield Street downtown. The couple hope to complete the project by the end of 2023, with plans for 15 residences with hotel-style services and amenities, as well as a licensed public cafe, podcasting room, seating exteriors and a take-out window.

Construct a triangle


“With the Triangle Building, we’re trying to create a sense of place and provide more flexible rental terms,” ​​Tyson says. “Here in town, if you want to sign a six-month lease, it’s very expensive. We try to be very market driven.

Walsh, who grew up in Montreal, where these types of facilities are the norm, says many residential developments popping up in Pittsburgh don’t offer community spaces or add them only as an afterthought. He says that as more people move to the city – either from other parts of the world or from neighboring suburbs – there is a strong demand for thoughtfully designed all-inclusive homes.

“One of the benefits of having an in-house cafe is that you can control how it looks,” he says. “We are committed to our tenants to offer them businesses that add value to their experience. We want to bring something very different to Pittsburgh, but with a classic twist. It’s what a cafe is supposed to be, a great meeting place. We live in a mobile world and we want it to feel more like home.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement