Best of the 'Burgh 2016: Personalities

Our editors' FRESH TAKES on our favorite Pittsburgh things, including the best team in the NHL and a celebrated hotel pet.


Best in the NHL

2016 Pittsburgh Penguins
At first, it didn’t feel like a season that would lead to the Stanley Cup. A new head coach before Christmas. Doubts about struggling superstars. A heart-and-soul-of-the-team left winger forced into retirement due to health concerns. As winter turned to spring, though, diehards and casual fans alike started to notice: Hey, something is happening here. The Pittsburgh Penguins surged forward in the standings and began to look like contenders. Even as they added postseason victories, it felt unlikely. But the rookie goaltender in the net kept turning pucks away, the roster of unsung heroes added goal after goal and the superstars rose back to their status among the game’s greats. On June 9, the city brought the streets around Consol Energy Center to a standstill, hoping the team would raise the Cup on home ice. It wasn’t to be; the San Jose Sharks had a bit of fight left in them. But three nights later on June 12, the Penguins applied a barrage of offensive pressure, defended with desperate tenacity and ended the night once again raising the game’s ultimate prize toward the rafters. No, it hadn’t begun like a season that would lead to the Stanley Cup. And that made hoisting it so much sweeter. —SC

[; photo courtesy of Getty Images]


Best Office Cat/Dog

Edie at the Fairmont
A 6-year-old mutt named Edie has secured a great gig Downtown. Her 9-to-5 grind: The task of being a dog. (She’s very qualified.) Edie is the canine ambassador for the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel, a job that involves appearances at Fairmont events, near-constant photo shoots with bemused hotel guests and generally hanging out in the Fairmont’s lobby. Julie Abramovic, the Fairmont’s public relations manager (and Edie’s owner on evenings and weekends), says the idea to employ a canine ambassador came from the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston; the longtime in-house pooch, Catie, is a bona fide celebrity there, so the team in Pittsburgh thought Edie would be a good fit. “She just kind of adds a sense of warmth and comfort to the hotel,” Abramovic says. If you find yourself staying at the Fairmont, stop by the concierge desk and arrange to take Edie for a stroll through Downtown; if you’re not a guest, you can correspond with Edie over email We’re told she tends to respond quickly. —SC

[510 Market St., Downtown; 412/773-8800,; photo by Laura Petrilla]

Best Pirates Food Vendor

Bobby Faloon
If you’ve ever sat between home plate and first base in the infield at PNC Park, you’ve probably seen Bobby Faloon tirelessly carrying his case of Miller Lite up and down the park steps. Faloon, 62, has been a Pirates vendor for most of his life. He started 49 years ago at Forbes Field, and he has been coming back ever since. In 2000 and 2013, Faloon was chosen as an Aramark All-Star Vendor, winning an all-expenses paid trip to the All-Star Game that year. The vendor has worked during nearly every game of each of his 49 seasons and says that hard work, determination and supportive customers help him to be the best of the best. —JM



Best Husband-and-Wife Writer Team

Lori Jakiela and Dave Newman
Privacy and time are vital to writers — and neither exist in abundance when you have two children and full-time jobs. Yet married writers Lori Jakiela and Dave Newman make it work. With nine published books between them — and more on the way — Jakiela and Newman have made sacrifices to balance family and work. How does the Trafford-based couple do it? “I don’t get to drink Moscow mules about town much,” Jakiela jokes. “We’re still in love,” Newman adds “and our kids are barely ashamed we’re artsy-fartsy.” —KC

[,; photo by Phelan Newman]


Best Way to Relive Your Catholic Schooldays

Sister Mary Pat’s Catechism
Bring your sense of humor for lighthearted plays on religious concepts at Late Night Catechism, a recurring show at City Theatre. Actress Kimberly Richards portrays the comical Sister character in the popular series penned by Maripat Donovan. One recent show was entitled: “Sister’s Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?” Others have included themes about summer school, Christmas and a naughty trip to Las Vegas. Be sure to stay tuned for more sinfully funny seasonal shows. —KBG

[1300 Bingham St., South Side; 412/431-2489,]


Best Major-League Advice

Clint Hurdle's Newsletter
Even though he’s busy leading a Major League Baseball team, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle makes time to send words of wisdom into email inboxes of colleagues, former players, staff, members of the media, family and friends. It began in 2009 with an inspiring text message to 12 people, and he switched to email as his list expanded. Whether the topic of the day is based on an inspiring quote from a famous coach or an uplifting story, Hurdle can be counted on by more than 3,000 individually chosen recipients for a boost of motivation. —TM


Best DJ Who Will Take You Back to the 50s​

Doowop Dan in Windgap
Remember When Ice Cream in Windgap is a reminder of the ice cream windows of yesteryear. Your treat often will come with an appropriate soundtrack: the hits of the ’50s and early ’60s provided by DooWop Dan. The 66-year-old disc jockey, otherwise known as Dan Hogan, has been playing music outside Remember When from 7 p.m. until closing on warm, clear Friday and Sunday nights for 11 years. He cites the songs of Bobby Rydell, the Four Seasons and Elvis Presley — as well as the iconic hits from Motown — as the cornerstones of his playlist. “We definitely don’t want to lose that music,” he says. —SC

[3860 Chartiers Ave., Windgap; 412/331-2234,; photo by Shane Henderson via Flickr Creative Commons]


Best Spot to Get Your Daily Dose of Poetry

Thin Man
In our world of constant distractions, it’s sometimes hard to find a few moments in your day for deep thought. Rachel Shandor, a cashier at the Thin Man Sandwich Shop, tries to do her part to remedy that. Every month she posts an original poem at the register. For Shandor — who studied literature at Chatham University — it’s not only an opportunity to have a small audience for her eclectic creative output but also a way to connect with her customers and give them something to chew on while they wait for their lunch. —CG

[50 21st St., Strip District; 412/586-7370,]


Categories: Best of the ‘Burgh