Perspectives: Mourning the Buffalo Bleu Bites at Sharp Edge

The final closure of the pub chain offers a reminder: Don’t delay on fun and leisure.
Sharpedge

PHOTO BY NEIL STREBIG

There’s a sad internet phrase that I keep running into lately: “Permanently Closed.”

That’s how Google and Yelp describe a business that isn’t merely closed for the evening, but instead has vanished into the underworld of bygone establishments, never again to open its doors. This week, I had the unusual experience of looking up information on three different things I wanted to do, only to find that each had closed up shop.

Yesterday, I was telling friends about a murder-mystery weekend we should try. The historic Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe — one of the architectural inspirations for Disney’s Haunted Mansion, by the way — has been welcoming guests to its ornate, Victorian B&B for murder-mystery games for nearly 40 years.

Or, rather, it did so until about a week ago. As we contemplated booking a trip for the spring, I grabbed my phone to discover that the owners of the manse had decided to end the murder parties. (The mansion is still open as a bed and breakfast — and, while I’m bitter about the lack of interactive whodunits, I absolutely recommend it for anyone headed that way.)

Seems we just missed it.

The same applies to a much more distant attraction. Ever since suddenly becoming basketball devotees sometime in late 2019 — a story for another time — my girlfriend and I have been longing to visit the NBA Experience, an interactive exhibit in Orlando’s Downtown Disney district. Alas: It never returned from a COVID-19 shutdown, with both the league and the mouse deciding it wasn’t worth the trouble.

The last cut is the deepest, though, as it’s local. A few days ago, a Twitter conversation revolved around which Pittsburgh-area restaurants we’d snap back into existence if we had the power. There are plenty of fine establishments to choose from, and mine was far from the most gastronomically complex — yet the choice for me was clear: the Downtown branch of Sharp Edge. My go-to local comfort food was always a plate of their Buffalo Bleu bites, with a Belgian beer and fries.

This morning, I resolved to head over to the last Sharp Edge standing, their cozy pub in Sewickley. Why lament over missing the Downtown location when I can get the same meal just up the Ohio, I thought?

I hopped on the chain’s Facebook page to check their hours, only to learn I was precisely one day too late; the Sewickley branch, and with it the entire brand, closed up shop last night.

Seems I just missed it.

It’s certainly true that there have been more moments like this as of late; the pandemic spelled doom for establishments large and small, and the carnage is not yet over. But places are always closing; I can point to any number of hand-wringing, gone-too-soon periods of mourning for local favorites going back as long as I’ve had local favorites.

The lesson, I think, is not to procrastinate on leisure. (Bit of an oxymoron, there, but bear with me.) I’m constantly using some variation on the phrase “We should do that soon.” We should eat there, we should try that, we should take a little trip out that way. Whenever I vaguely commit in that way — promising to get around to this or that — I’m putting off a potential source of joy, or letting a reliable place of comfort fade from my routine. (One day, I had my last Buffalo Bleu bite and didn’t even know it. I can’t even tell you when it happened.)

Every time I lazily grab a sandwich from a chain on the way home rather than pop into somewhere new or beloved, I’m running the risk of missing out. Whenever I opt to sit on the couch and stare at my phone rather than try something novel, that’s one day less that might’ve included a lovely discovery.

Last week, I was driving home from Cumberland, Maryland. Usually, I’ll make that trip without stopping. This time, though, I visited the River’s Edge Cafe, a lovely restaurant and bed-and-breakfast nestled along the Yough in Confluence. It was a beautiful, peaceful place, with great soup.

Most trips, I would’ve gotten something at Sheetz and sped home. But my day was much better because I didn’t.

Obviously, none of us have the time, energy or money to wring every drop out of every single day. But as much as possible, it’s important to not fall victim to routine and complacency. “Permanently closed” lurks behind every corner; if you’re going to put something off until tomorrow, make it something arduous. Prioritize enjoying life and visiting the places around you.

By the way, the fact that I’m never getting those Buffalo Bleu bites again has me in a funk. I’m grieving. If anyone can point me to a very similar dish around town, I’m eager to find it.

Categories: Perspectives