Oakland quiet for Summit’s first afternoon, but some businesses closed

By Lindsay Carroll

Oakland was quieter than normal at 8:42 this morning.

An occasional student walked to class or a hospital worker in scrubs walked to the hospital. Workers blew leaves off the streets. The lawn of the William Pitt Union looked unusually pristine and leafless, with stripes of carefully mowed grass. Like any other morning, people sat drinking coffee and reading books outside Kiva Han.

Meanwhile, police officers were closing Schenley Park to prepare for the G-20 dinner at Phipps Conservatory tonight. Security guards stood in the Rite Aid on Forbes Avenue and in front of the Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue.

Most businesses in Oakland were closed that early anyway. Garage Door had already boarded up its windows, and other businesses like Super Cuts and Golden Palace Buffet on Forbes Avenue displayed windows that they wouldn’t be open today.

But others weren’t too worried.

Nardo Berardinelli was outside at 9 a.m. this morning tending to his food stand, Hot Dog Heaven, where he sells doughnuts, veggie sausages, ice cream and hot dogs to passersby.

The stand is outside his house on Filmore Street near Craig Street. His hot dog machines and ice cream refrigerators sat out in the open. An array of small world flags sat displayed near his machines.

“That’s for the G-20,” Berardinelli said.

Berardinelli, who opened his stand in June, plans to keep selling hot dogs during the Summit, even though he knows there might be protesters in the area.

“I think it’s going to be relatively mild,” he said.

He said that he can’t remember an event as big as the G-20 coming to Pittsburgh in his 77 years.

“Just the sports events,” he said.

But Berardinelli, an Italian-American Pittsburgh native, said he is excited that his relatives in Italy will be able to see what his city is like. He imagined that immigrants in the city will probably feel the same way.

Even though Bigelow was closed in the next block, the Pad Thai Express truck on Bigelow Boulevard remained open.

Phoc Vong, who runs the truck vendor, said that so far, things have been “so far, so good.” He wasn’t planning on moving until given direction by the University or police.

He said that he thought that the protesting during the Summit wouldn’t be as bad as the Steeler’s riot in February.

“This is a more educated crowd mentally,” Vong said. “They want to get a point across.”

Vong, who is from Thailand, said that some angry demonstrators might want to break the law, and he felt a little nervous about that.

He said that his regular customers, many of whom are students, told him they’d come to eat today, but he expects less business than usual during the Summit.