Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

After Dark Hall of Fame: Eat'n Park

The inaugural inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame has been an integral part of Pittsburgh nightlife for generations.




PHOTO COURTESY EAT'N PARK

 

This week, I’d like to introduce a new feature to After Dark. I haven’t been doing this forever, but I’ve gained a bit of perspective on Pittsburgh nightlife in my time covering it for this blog and the print side. And although trends can fade (for a minute back there, we all thought beertails were going to be a thing), there are some things that are essential to the nightlife of our city.

I say “things” deliberately because what those specific entities are varies — some bars, some institutions, some places, some beverages. Some things I’m not even considering yet. But regardless of categorization, the act of leaving one’s house after dark does have some essentials.

So I’m establishing the After Dark Hall of Fame.

This is the first entry — the inaugural class of one. I’ll add more periodically and indefinitely.

And even I’m shocked to report that the hands-down, first-ballot choice for Hall of Fame enshrinement doesn’t even sell beer.

Here’s the thing: Nightlife begins before you’re 21. As soon as you’re old enough to have a friend with a driver’s license, you’re inclined to head out after dark as often as you are able. A teenager’s options, though, are very limited; no bars, no casinos, nowhere too expensive. Malls close early. Some entire boroughs have curfews.

So what’s a 17-year-old to do? For me, it usually involved Smiley cookies.

I couldn’t even guess the number of nights I’ve begun, interrupted or ended at an Eat’n Park, starting when I was 16 and lasting until today. When I was younger, the larger of the two McKnight Road locations was more or less a default location; whenever no better option was at hand, our cars would seem to drive themselves to Eat’n Park.

Sometimes, a full meal. Sometimes, pie and tea. Often, the dangerous double-potato combo (mashed and fries). Slightly overabused salad bar privileges. Intense debates on the appropriateness of a full breakfast at 11:45 p.m. and whether or not the presence of maple syrup was evidence for or against. Between the age when all socialization is done with parents nearby and the age when all socialization is done with a beer keg nearby, there is Eat’n Park. Generations of late-adolescent Pittsburghers have entered into the world with this as the first stop.

That’s not to say that the relevance of Eat’n Park ends with the age of majority, though — it’s far from it. For adults, the chain merely transitions into a pre-, mid- or post-night stop; it’s a warm-up joint, an oasis or a recovery room. Shedding the low light of bars and frenzy of the weekend for a spacious booth and a savory meal (that likely cost less than a cocktail at wherever you just were) is something bordering on sublime.

It’s plain to me that Pittsburgh nightlife would be markedly different without Eat’n Park. Sure, there would be Ritter’s and Tom’s Diner for late-night food, but the sheer blanket coverage of Eat’n Park is what separates it; there are 24-hour locations in the North Hills, Avalon, Etna, Gibsonia, Sewickley, Mars, Robinson Township, Squirrel Hill, Moon Township, Dormont, Homestead, Bridgeville, Whitehall, Bethel Park, Monaca . . . I can think of few spots in Allegheny County (and beyond) where I’m more than 20 minutes from a Breakfast Smile at any given time.

Welcome to the After Dark Hall of Fame, Eat’n Park. We wouldn’t be the same without you.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Hungry for Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating in July

Lidia Bastianich Shares Her American Dream in a New Memoir

PM Dining Critic Hal B. Klein talks to the celebrated chef, restauranteur, television host and author about grandparents, foraging and the plight of refugees seeking a better life in the United States.

They Prayed to Our Lady of the Roller Coaster

Two local priests –– riding the Phantom's Revenge to promote Catholic Day at Kennywood –– create a viral video. Along the way they deliver a most unusual sermon.

The Homestead Artist with a Worldwide Reputation

Jesse Best maintains a presence in New York and Tokyo. But, he says, Pittsburgh has been 10 times better to him than any other place.

The 400-Word Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The fifth "Jurassic Park" film is fun. Empty, somewhat disappointing fun.

Local Brewery Resolves Trademark Dispute With Sass

After Pitt ordered Voodoo Brewery to stop production of its "H2P American IPA," the company relaunched the beer under a new name.

Sprout Fund Passes the Torch

50 Pittsburghers to receive $1,000 Legacy Award to carry on the nonprofit’s vision.

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

The Pirates reliever sang the national anthem Tuesday night before the Bucs hosted the Brewers at PNC Park. It's worth watching, especially for his teammates' reaction at the end.

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Illegal activity plunged along East Carson Street following several new security measures.

Fired by City Paper — Charlie Deitch Won’t Be Silenced

The former editor of the Pittsburgh alt-weekly is creating his own "more inclusive" publication.

Czechoslovakia was Forged in Pittsburgh

Rick Sebak details how the establishment of the European nation began with a meeting Downtown.

Brick by Brick: Legos Go High Art

Made entirely out of Legos, the sculptures on the display at the Carnegie Science Center’s new Scaife Exhibit Gallery range from the whimsical to the otherworldly.

Mike Chen, Dean of the Chinese Kitchen

The owner of Everyday Noodles looks to encourage more regionally specific Chinese food in Pittsburgh restaurants.

MultiStories: Real Estate – The Machesney Building

Visitors can still ogle the lavish marble and bronze interior crafted to appeal to the original owner's banker and stockbroker tenants.