There's a Bizarre Secret Lurking Behind a Cranberry Bar
The North Park Lounge Cranberry is a reliable suburban gathering place. Then you head out back.
Photo by Sean Collier
Let’s start here: I like North Park Lounge’s Cranberry location. I’d go back. My food was good, my drink was good, the service was warm and fast. Next time I’m driving by hungry, this is where I’m stopping. You should visit. It’s a fine establishment.
A fine establishment that just so happens to host the single most bizarre nightlife gimmick in town.
Known previously as the North Park Lounge in HD, and colloquially as the Deckhouse, the large bar and restaurant has been a fixture in deep Cranberry Township for years. There are places like this dotting the suburbs — reliable and eminently comfortable spots for filling food, decent drinks and a respectable beer list. These are the neighborhood gathering places of the most sprawling neighborhoods.
NPL Cranberry (as far as I can tell, that is the official name) offers all of this and more. And I do mean more. I remember hearing a phrase when I was trying to teach a particularly scatterbrained puppy to sit: “throwing behaviors.” It’s when a dog knows you want something, but hasn’t figured out what, so she starts just doing things: rolling over, laying down, offering a paw — in hopes that one action will be the thing you want.
NPL Cranberry is throwing behaviors. It’s offering a laundry list of activities, amenities and events in the hopes that one will convince you to come back. A collection of autographed memorabilia signed by everyone from second-tier Penguins stars to the cast of “Pulp Fiction” coats the walls at a frequency that would make the Hard Rock Cafe blush. Some areas of seating have in-booth televisions; others could easily accommodate 10 diners. There are trivia nights. DJ nights. Live entertainment. Karaoke. Steelers specials. Strolling magicians.
And all of that is before you head out behind NPL Cranberry and see ... it.
A structure so patently incongruous that you will briefly question what neighborhood — nay, what state — you’re in.
There’s a whole beach bar.
A long, wooden, open-air structure. Outdoor seating topped with umbrellas bearing Mexican-beer logos. Torches. Sand.
This despite the fact that nothing even vaguely resembling a beach — nor a body of water — can be found.
It’s uncanny. Try to picture it in reverse: Say you found yourself on the Jersey Shore, and someone dropped a smoky dive bar smack in the middle of the dunes. You’d be utterly puzzled. Just as you should be encountering the edifice dubbed “Bamboo Bar and Beach” in the middle of a Cranberry parking lot.
Now, there’s not really anything wrong with this; I suppose if you want a change of scenery and are fond of the sort of beachside bars where you can get a wicked sunburn on the back of your neck while drinking Coronas and listening to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” more often than any human should, NPL’s anachronistic bungalow will serve to give you a quick escape. That’s fine.
It’s just weird. It’s so, so weird.