Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

After Dark Hall of Fame: Grant Bar & Lounge

The Millvale neighborhood meeting place is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Photo by Sean Collier

There aren’t that many of these left.

Sure, there are plenty of traditional Pittsburgh bars around town. They all have history worn into the grooves of their barstools; generations of tavern debates and off-color jokes have mingled with cigarette smoke, tattooing their ceilings. They are indispensable and seem eternal.

But the neighborhood meeting place — the de facto town hall of a western Pennsylvania community — those are fading. Misfortune or mismanagement seems to claim another one every year. A story appears here and there about the fate of the shuttered pub’s century-old knicknacks, useless objects made valuable through time and stillness. Often, the bar sits empty as rumors of the building’s fate and future filter into less venerable neighboring watering holes.

A lot of those places are gone. The Grant Bar isn’t.

The Grant Bar & Lounge — that’s where I’d usually link to an establishment’s website, but such modern finery is superfluous for this institution — has stood sentinel on Grant Avenue since 1933, seeing Millvale through booms, busts and too many floods. It remains in the Ruzomberka family, who founded the bar, and maintains a familiar menu of comfort food: burgers, sandwiches, dinner entrees your mother would make (aping your grandmother’s recipe).

Like in the name, the bar comes first; you enter to find a spacious barroom, gently styled after a European beer hall but fundamentally no different from a hundred like it. There are quieter corners for your one-on-one conversation; there are debates and discussions from one end of the curving bar to the other. The draft beers are what you’d expect, albeit with a few strong local offerings (I had a stout from North Country on my last visit), and the bottles lined behind the bar ensure your preferred liquor and mixer can be yours, if little else.

You don’t need anything else. This is a joint for a boilermaker.

And yet: beyond the barroom, a series of dining rooms invite family dinners, patient lunches, even larger gatherings. These dining rooms are no afterthought; this is a place you are happy to sit and eat. If you lived across the street and money was no object, you’d wander over here every day at 5 p.m., a matter of course rather than choice (but you’d choose it, too).

A scene unfolded as I ate lunch — eggplant parm sandwich and fries, quite satisfying — earlier this week. A woman sat, chatting with a friend; the bartender, 20 years their junior but in every other way a peer, asked her how she’d been. I tried not to eavesdrop but could hear tears take over her response; she’d lost a loved one recently. The bartender comforted her, genuinely. These people knew each other, filling their roles in the fabric of a neighborhood with ease and love.

A few minutes later, the woman and her friend paid their tab and left. A man walked in and assumed their seat.

“The usual for you today?,” the bartender asked. He replied in the affirmative. Same as it was. Same as it will be.


Previous Inductees
Eat'n Park
East Carson Street
Western Pennsylvania Social Clubs
​Nied's Hotel
Arsenal Lanes
The Sharp Edge chain
Kelly’s Bar & Lounge
Stage AE

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

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

The Latest

PIT Turns to CMU to Make Airport Smartest in the World

The airport authority will use minds at CMU to discover ways to make it easier for passengers to get from the terminal’s parking lots to their seat on the plane.

Celebrate August Wilson's Birthday With a King and a Block Party

The ninth play in the 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle will open outside at the August Wilson House.

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Get Your Clark Bars While You Can – They May Soon Be Gone

Production of Pittsburgh native candy bar may halt if the current producer cannot find a new buyer.

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Bruno Sammartino Dies; Wrestling's Longtime Champ Was 82

The Italian-born star died surrounded by family in his adopted home of Pittsburgh.

It’s Road Repaving Season in Pittsburgh. Is Your Street on the List?

The City of Pittsburgh has finalized its street paving plan for 2018. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Three Rivers Champion: James S. Perry

Perry combined his love for athletics and volunteerism to create a youth athletic association that at its height provided organized softball and baseball to more than 350 boys and girls.

Three Rivers Art Festival Brings Music and New Art For 59th Summer

Point State Park, Gateway Center and sites across the Cultural District will host free, world-class art and events during this year’s 10-day festival.

Sound of Silence: Century III to be Sold at Sheriff's Sale

The nearly 40-year-old mall encounters foreclosure once again. Will this sale be the end of the line?

Pittsburgh Riverlife President & CEO Vivien Li Resigns

Li is returning to Boston to be with family members who are in declining health.

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.