(📸: Courtesy of Richard Hooper)
Name: Richard Hooper
Social Media: @downtownpitt
Website: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Welcome to The Incline’s Locals to Know series. It’s when we cede the spotlight to a local person or organization who’s made their mark on the larger Pittsburgh community. Keep an eye out over the weeks to come for more of these interviews, and if you know of someone or some org that we ought to feature, don’t hesitate to send them our way.
Today we’re talking to Richard Hooper, the Vice President of Marketing & Communications of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, a non-profit organization with a mission to develop programs and initiatives that enhance Downtown Pittsburgh, ensuring that it remains a vibrant place to work, study, live, or visit. PDP is the group behind Picklesburgh and Light Up Night, and outside of hosting fun events, the org also works to support economic vitality, improve mobility and transportation, and develop other initiatives.
What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
Tough to choose. Maybe the experience of seeing the city for the first time (when I first visited from the UK around 1990) coming through the Fort Pitt tunnels at night. It’s a beautiful cityscape that really wows you when you are suddenly ‘right there’. More recently, it was being on the stage for supersized fireworks over the river on Light Up Night – truly spectacular!
Pick a favorite local outdoor experience. What is it? What’re we doing? Who’s going with yinz?
Outdoor dining at many of the downtown restaurants has become a wonderful way to continue to experience the city and support our challenged restaurants. Eating in an igloo in the winter, or on the sidewalk in the warmer months is a new experience for Downtown Pittsburgh, but a good one. There’s something very unique and fun about chatting with friends over food and drink in a downtown outdoor space. Everyone seems to really enjoy that vibe.
What’s your favorite local Instagram or TikTok account and why?
I really enjoy @keeppittsburghdope and Chancelor Humphrey’s great photographic representation of Pittsburgh life on Instagram. He also has such a great energy and love for Pittsburgh in person, and that really comes across in his postings. @discovertheburgh also provides great visuals of things to do in Pittsburgh, as well as makes you hungry with their food imagery.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I like spicy food, so it would have to be a Massaman curry from Nicky’s Thai Kitchen. Might not be the best move for the rest of my life… but I love it nonetheless! We’re actually spoiled for choice Downtown since there are so many first-class restaurants!
What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it?
We’re currently rolling out a restaurant and retail support initiative called the Downtown Pittsburgh EDGE. It’s a free card that workers, residents, and students of Downtown Pittsburgh can use to get discounts and offers on purchases from a wide variety of downtown small businesses. We currently have almost 50 businesses participating and providing offers and incentives. The offers will change over time, so signing up for the newsletter is also advised. You can check out the details here.
Currently, the card is being distributed to downtown workers, residents, and students studying in the city, so if you are part of that group, please stop by PG&H just off Market Square and pick up your free card! Help out the Downtown businesses you know and love, and maybe find a few new ones in the process. Also look for us to add some exclusive ‘limited time special offers in the coming months which we hope will excite cardholders and further support downtown small businesses.
What are you looking forward to this year?
There are so many terrific things on the horizon. We have some fantastic events coming this year. Some are reimagined, some are completely new, and of course, beloved events like the Picklesburgh and Light Up Night will, of course, be back alongside Yoga in the Square, the Farmers and Saturday Night Markets. We’re also particularly excited about the work we will be doing on downtown wayfinding, and our work on improvements to key corridors in downtown, like Smithfield Street. Some of these things have been many years in the making and are soon coming to fruition.
Our efforts to support downtown small businesses through the lingering challenges of the pandemic will also continue, and we’ll be creating new and innovative ways for people to reconnect with these businesses who help bring such vibrancy to our city.
Interested in being featured and want to share your own cool project in the ‘Burgh? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “TI Locals to Know 2022” and you might just see yourself in a future newsletter.