Millvale business owner helping reshape, energize borough -

Millvale business owner helping reshape, energize borough

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | 12:01 AM

Tupelo Honey Teas, the Millvale Community Library (MCL) and Triboro Ecodistrict are collaborating to reshape a portion of Millvale’s Grant Avenue over the next three to five years.

Danielle Spinola, who owns the 207 Grant Ave. tea shop and plant-based cafe, acquired the 211 Grant Ave. space in December. She plans to expand her business into the newly obtained adjacent building, which has remained vacant for two years.

Spinola intends to leave Tupelo’s kitchen at 207 Grant. The kitchen would become a shared space with the MCL — which connects to Tupelo via a doorway — for food preparation and workshops. Tupelo is an MCL tenant.

“The library folks are really happy to be part of the continued partnership with Danielle,” Melissa Mason, library board president, said. “She has been a great tenant, business owner and friend over the years, so it’s exciting to be part of helping her with the opportunity to expand.”

Mason said that Tupelo’s expansion will present opportunities for the library, as well. The MCL’s makerspace currently located in the back of the tea shop may have room to expand in terms of both physical size and programming.

“Our child/teen and adult spaces aren’t really separated so there has been talk of rethinking all of the internal spaces once we have more room. With the deck/rebuild expansion almost being complete and eventually this new space, there are so many ways our tiny but wonderful library can grow,” Mason said.

“The Triboro Ecodistrict has partnered with the Millvale Community Library and Tupelo Honey Teas to provide technical assistance during the yearlong purchase process, provide acquisition funding, and complete interior demolition and clean out on the building. As a result of this collaboration, a vacant, blighted building is under local control and will be restored by a woman-owned business, and ongoing funding is secured by the Millvale Community Library to support youth programming. We are out to prove that we are stronger together,” Brian Wolovich, Triboro Ecodistrict director.

The new property will feature space for small events.

“We are also gaining a beautiful backyard that can be used for garden tea parties, baby showers, birthday parties, etc.,” Spinola said. “We get a lot of requests for small events, but currently we don’t have the space.”

On the fenced property, The Western Pennsylvania Unit, The Herb Society of America will design and plant a tea and herb garden that Spinola, a club member, will curate and utilize for workshops.

Since 211 Grant Ave. is a two-unit building, she plans to either rent out the upstairs space as an apartment or overnight property.

She looks forward to growing her business in a once underutilized area.

“I love the idea that tea is tied to the tradition of questioning the patriarchy, engaging with community and making things better for the people,” Spinola said. “We want to continue that into the new space where people can come and sit together and spill the tea.”

A partnership between New Sun Rising, Etna Economic Development Corporation, and Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, the Triboro Ecodistrict promotes coordinated sustainable community development throughout Millvale, Etna and Sharpsburg in the areas of equity, food, water, energy, air quality and mobility.