It wasn't until after college, while working on Wall Street, that Pittsburgh native Bobby Fry fell in love with food.
"I was the only one in my 20s on the trading desk, and we would take our customers out to dinner," he says. "We'd go to these high-end restaurants, and everywhere I was like, ‘This is food?' This is what food tastes like?'"
Fry, a partner in the Strip District's Bar Marco restaurant, is about to open a second location in East Liberty, in the spot formerly occupied by the Waffle Shop, at 124 S. Highland Ave. To be called Livermore, the restaurant's menu will feature raw foods, juices and baked goods. But don't think carrots and celery. Think duck-liver mousse crostini with pickled ramp and radishes; salads with shaved fennel, frisee, pomegranate and citrus vinaigrette; or roasted peanuts with garlic and rosemary.
"The menu is going to consist of small snacks and dishes, much like one would find in a European cafe," says Justin Steel, another partner in the business.
Even the cocktails that will be served at the bar will be light — made with sherry, gin or champagne, for example.
Describing himself as "an extremely overweight kid," in high school and college, Fry's move into the restaurant business was motivated by the discovery in New York that he could eat well without compromising.
"I didn't have to cut my diet back. I was eating good food and being exposed to good food," he says. "It made me a healthier person, got me to care about what I was eating."
That realization is what will be guiding Livermore's offerings, he says.
"I've seen my energy level stay through the roof by doing fresh juicing," Fry says, adding that he also tries to eat raw foods for two of his meals each day.
A focus on flavor and the right combinations of ingredients are what make such meals exceptional, he says.
"You shouldn't have to starve yourself or eat engineered foods just to get through your day."