Bloomfield Bridge Tavern To Close in October

The 32-year-old bar, known for Polish fare and live music, is shuttering due to increasing insurance costs.




photos by sean collier
 

Were the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern to open its doors on Nov. 12 of this year, the 32nd anniversary of its birth would be observed at precisely 7 p.m. — the exact time when, in 1985, the paperwork was finalized and the Bloomfield pub served its first customers.

No beer will be poured, however, to mark the BBT’s 32nd birthday; owner Steve Frankowski confirms that the neighborhood spot will not reach that mark. The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern is set to permanently close its doors; its final night of business is set for Oct. 21.

Since 1985, the BBT has been known for its affordable drinks, Polish fare and fire-hall-style feel. Its pierogies and haluski are something of an outlier in the predominantly Italian neighborhood, but many Pittsburghers of Polish ancestry regard the authenticity of the fare as unparalleled. Frankowski boasts that the food at the BBT is the second-best Polish grub in town — any Polish relative of yours who can cook is first, he jokes.

In the 21st century, the BBT also became recognized as a haven for the fringes of the local music scene. Punk and alternative groups, including touring up-and-comers seeking an intimate venue, took to the bar’s small stage after dark; thanks to a 14-year run hosting drum-and-bass DJs, the bar also became a landmark for Pittsburgh’s small electronic-music scene. It’s a dichotomy not found at too many other area watering holes: Eastern-European ’Burgh bar by day, hangout for twentysomething revelers by night.

A trio of misfortunes made it impossible for the bar to remain in business, Frankowski says. Two patrons were injured during events; each filed a lawsuit against the bar. Then, a 2016 power surge caused electrical damage.

“It’s just not cost-effective to be open, for what the insurance would be,” Frankowski says. “My 25-year history of never having a claim doesn’t matter; all that matters to them is the last four years.” He says he’s been operating at a loss for about a year and is no longer able to continue.
 

Frankowski’s father, Stanley A. Frankowski, opened the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern in 1985. He brought his son into the business early; before his death in 2005, Stanley formally sold it to Steve. “He figured he wanted to keep the traditions going,” Frankowski says.

That was the younger Frankowski’s intention until the insurance problems took hold; “I planned on working another 30 years,” he says.

Frankowski says community and patron support has been widespread since the spectre of closing was raised. “It’s been so nice having customers come again — a lot of these young kids have tried to do a GoFundMe,” he says. He has declined all such attempts, though, feeling that there is no longer a financially viable path forward. He is moved by the effort, however. “That’s very nice, and that they wanted to do that made me feel really good.”

Frankowski is not seeking a buyer for the building; given its age, he explains, the costs of converting it into another type of business would be prohibitive. This makes it unlikely, to say the least, that another bar or music venue will take over the space; currently, Frankowski plans on using the bar space as an office while renting an attached apartment, which he also owns.

Sheila Evans, who handles the event side of the BBT’s business, is hard at work bringing in current Pittsburgh bands — and reuniting former acts — to bid farewell to the bar between now and Oct. 21. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time for patrons young and old to return for farewell Polish Platters.

While bar and restaurant closings are a fact of life, however, those that ingrain themselves into the city’s fabric in the way that the BBT did are not so easily replaced. The East End of Pittsburgh will never want for performance spaces, beer and decent meals. It will, however, be the worse for the closing of this particular corner of the city.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

2024 Eclipse Will Be Even More Impressive in Pittsburgh

2024 Eclipse Will Be Even More Impressive in Pittsburgh

Don’t toss out those eclipse glasses, you will need them again.
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.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Beauty and the ’Burgh: 7 Spots to Go to Get Glam

Beauty and the ’Burgh: 7 Spots to Go to Get Glam

No longer restricted to bigger cities, some of the latest cosmetic innovations and trends — think blowouts, microblading and lash extensions, just to name a few — are taking place in Pittsburgh’s evolving beauty scene.
Answering the Big Questions of Higher Education

Answering the Big Questions of Higher Education

Ten regional college presidents weigh in on the challenges and triumphs of a 21st-century education.
Staying CMU: All Eyes on Carnegie Mellon's Future

Staying CMU: All Eyes on Carnegie Mellon's Future

As Carnegie Mellon University begins its search for a new president, we take a look at its history – and the role it will play in the future.
Restaurant Review: Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33

Restaurant Review: Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33

The Squirrel Hill restaurant brings it with tasty cuisine and engaging service.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


2024 Eclipse Will Be Even More Impressive in Pittsburgh

2024 Eclipse Will Be Even More Impressive in Pittsburgh

Don’t toss out those eclipse glasses, you will need them again.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Watch: Pittsburgh's Italian Chefs Cook Up an Amazing BBQ

Watch: Pittsburgh's Italian Chefs Cook Up an Amazing BBQ

The fire-cooked meal organized by Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino, included dishes prepared by chefs from Pittsburgh’s Italian restaurant community.

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


Time-Travel Drinking: Why We Need an '80s Bar

Time-Travel Drinking: Why We Need an '80s Bar

The case for an establishment where one can dine and drink while truly believing it's 1987.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers Are a ‘Close Group’ Still Seeking an Identity

Steelers Are a ‘Close Group’ Still Seeking an Identity

The team looks good on paper, good in practice and even, uncharacteristically, good so far in the preseason. But very soon now, none of that will matter.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

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