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 Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Rightsizing PIT - Will Landside Terminal, Tram Be Needed?

Rightsizing PIT - Will Landside Terminal, Tram Be Needed?

Big changes are expected as the Allegheny Airport Authority draws up a new master plan for the 25-year-old midfield terminal.
Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The new Live Animal Encounters program introduces museum visitors to rescued wildlife.
Food Truck Park Coming To Millvale

Food Truck Park Coming To Millvale

The venue will feature food truck stalls, beer vendors and entertainment.
New Pennzoil Ad Shows the Dodge Demon Demolishing the Streets of Pittsburgh

New Pennzoil Ad Shows the Dodge Demon Demolishing the Streets of Pittsburgh

Watch champion drifter Rhys Millen turn Pittsburgh's streets into his own private raceway.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

19 Pittsburgh-Area Burgers That We Love

19 Pittsburgh-Area Burgers That We Love

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein spent months eating scores of hamburgers in and around Pittsburgh. Find out how he narrowed his list down to 19 — and see which ones made the cut.
Meet 3 Butchers of the 'Burgh and Pittsburgh's ‘Brisket Boss’

Meet 3 Butchers of the 'Burgh and Pittsburgh's ‘Brisket Boss’

We visit Salem's halal butcher shop, the butchery program at Whitfield restaurant and the Butcher on Butler. Plus, smoking tips from the Brisket Boss.
The Region's Top Dentists 2017

The Region's Top Dentists 2017

Our annual list, which contains 369 dentists in the region, as determined by topDENTISTS.
Showtime Brothers: A Tale of Two Hollanders

Showtime Brothers: A Tale of Two Hollanders

In the 13 years since CBS’ ‘The Guardian’ went off the air, the Mt. Lebanon-raised siblings who inspired and wrote the series, Scott and David Hollander, have continued to export Pittsburgh nationally.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Rightsizing PIT - Will Landside Terminal, Tram Be Needed?

Rightsizing PIT - Will Landside Terminal, Tram Be Needed?

Big changes are expected as the Allegheny Airport Authority draws up a new master plan for the 25-year-old midfield terminal.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

The third iteration of the series will feature chef J.J. Johnson, formerly of The Cecil and Minton's Supper Club in Harlem.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

The tacos-and-tequila bar and restaurant on the South Side doesn't do anything wrong, exactly, but has room to grow.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville put together this chic outfit for the tricky period when summer cools into autumn.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

Reviews of "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and "Wind River," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Popping the Question Far Away from Home

Popping the Question Far Away from Home

Three grooms share how they carried their rings long distances to keep their brides-to-be in the dark until the moment they got on one knee.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Bombs Away: Arsenal 201 Apartments Open After Cannonball Removal

Bombs Away: Arsenal 201 Apartments Open After Cannonball Removal

Months after the Civil War-era cannonballs were discovered at the former arsenal and munitions factory in Lawrenceville, residents are given the green light to move into the 243-unit apartment complex.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments