Cheesy new Oakland restaurant could open as sub franchise goes underwater


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

The outside of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Forbes Avenue after it closed.

By Alexandra Ross, Assistant News Editor

After Pittsburgh’s legendary hot dog shop “The O” closed in 2020, the corner of South Bouquet Street and Forbes Avenue has seen significant changes — and more are yet to come. Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, which occupied part of the former site of The O since November 2021, has permanently closed.  

Lily Stein, a junior gender, sexuality and women’s studies major, called Capriotti’s closure after less than 14 months “surprising.” 

“I guess they were not successful, that means — like making profit, making any money,” Stein said. “It sounds like maybe they were not that great then, or there’s other sandwich places around that are better that people prefer.”

Jeremy Tuckfelt and Brian Manni, who owned and operated the Capriotti’s location, could not be reached for comment.

MERO Restaurant Group currently leases the former site of The O, using most of the space for its Viva Los Tacos location and previously subletting the rest to Capriotti’s. In addition to Viva Los Tacos, MERO owns CHiKN and Stack’d — and it appears set to take over the Capriotti’s location as well. 

A Pitt student who works at Viva Los Tacos said her employers told the staff about MERO’s plans to take over Capriotti’s. According to the student, renovations have already started. The student asked to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation from her employer for sharing their plans. 

The new restaurant, which could be named Meltz, would serve students a “cheese-focused” menu late into the night, according to the student.

“It’s gonna be late-night open and it’s gonna be like, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, fried mac and cheese bites, things like that,” the student said. 

Cory Shapert, the general manager of Viva Los Tacos, declined to confirm or deny this description of MERO’s plans for the location. He said it is “too soon to comment on anything” at this time, though more information could become available in the coming weeks.

Stein said they liked the idea of Meltz, particularly its later operating hours. 

“I love cheese and cheese-based foods, that’s fun,” Stein said. “I also think more like, late-night places would just be nice in general. I feel like a lot of places aren’t open super late here, so to have like, a nice place to get a snack at night or especially on the weekends would be pretty awesome.”

MERO Restaurant Group had a certain audience in mind when deciding to turn Capriotti’s into a late-night grub spot, the anonymous student believes. 

“I think it’s just because they wanted some kind of thing for drunk people. I feel like that’s all, that’s where their thoughts ended,” the student said. “I mean, it doesn’t sound too bad. It’ll probably do well — better than Capriotti’s, I’m sure.”