Friday, October 30, 2009

Second Prize is a Set of Steak Knives . . .

The Priory Hotel is pleased to offer, for November 2009, our Coffee is for Closers! Package.

Barebones Productions is presenting David Mamet’s modern theater classic “Glengarry Glen Ross” at the North Side’s newly refurbished New Hazlett Theater (located just a few short blocks from the Priory). Running from November 12 through 29, “Glengarry Glen Ross” tells the tale of a desperate group of Chicago real estate salesmen and the lengths they will go to to unload their inventory of Florida swampland. Some might remember the 1992 movie version starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris and Alec Baldwin. This version of the play is directed by Melissa Martin, who directed the film “The Bread, My Sweet,” and features noted Pittsburgh actor Bingo O’Malley as Sheldon Levine.

The Priory Hotel is proud to offer our “Coffee is for Closers” package to celebrate this revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The package which includes two tickets to the show, a dinner voucher (for $60) at the new Deutschtown restaurant Serendipity, and a bottle of red or white wine or champagne in your guestroom upon check in..

Please note that show tickets will be based on availability. The November 19 performance is sold out, and there is no performance on Thanksgiving. The show runs from Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, from November 12 through November 29.

Package price is just $259 plus tax, per double occupancy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pittsburgh's No. 1 Again

The Sporting News recently named Pittsburgh as the Number 1 sports city in the United States in its annual rankings. Citing the die hard nature of Steelers and Penguins fans, and those teams' success last year as Super Bowl and Stanley Cup champions, as well as the devotion and success of the University of Pittsburgh basketball and football programs, the Sporting News found Pittsburgh to be at the pinnacle of the sporting world geographically.

We're fortunate at The Priory to be a small part of the sports scene here, as we host many a Steeler and Pirates fan over the course of the year, as well many Pitt football fans, given our close proximity to PNC Park and Heinz Field. There's nothing like basking in reflected glory!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Priory's Laura's Blumengarten Wins Statewide Award

The Priory's Laura's Blumengarten, located on Lockhart Street across from the rear of the entrance to our Grand Hall, recently was awarded the pretigious 2009 "Community Greening Award" by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Laura's Blumengarten was chosen from over 80 nominees. The Blumengarten was created at the same time as the Grand Hall in 1995, out of a dilapidated city park. Local landscape designers Pashek and Associates did the park design, which features a Japanese style arbor at its peak. Laura's Blumengarten is named after my daughter Laura, who was 2 at the time the garden was dedicated (now she's 15!), and my father's mother Laura Mae Flaherty Graf, who was taken by cancer in 1957 while she was in her mid-40's.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clemente Museum & Winery??!!!

I had an opportunity to see a really interesting, off the beaten path venue recently, the Roberto Clemente Museum. The museum, which is located in a former firehouse in Doughboy Square in Lawrenceville, is the brainchild of noted photographer Duane Rieder. Rieder first acquired the space for his photo studio, but later decided to use the first floor former garage to display his ample and varied collection of Roberto Clemente (Hall of Fame right fielder for the Pirates)memorabilia. Highlights include a variety of original documents relating to Clemente's career, including his contract for his glove sponsorship with Rawlings and letters relating to his service in the U.S. Army. Here is a slideshow of the museum and a Post-Gazette story regarding it from last year.

The museum is open by appointment only, and tours are available most Saturdays. Call (412)621-1268 for more information. It is located at 3339 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville.

What is really offbeat is that in the basement of the Firehouse, Rieder has located a winery. Rieder imports grapes from Napa and Sonoma valleys in California, and then presses, ferments and ages them into wine right in the basement. He offers many collector labels, including quite a few with Pittsburgh Penguin and Steeler themes. The thing about the wine is, though -- it's excellent. One would be shocked that such a good product could be made in a basement in Lawrenceville, but it is. The wine is well worth a try.

Here is a story from the Pittsburgh Business Times on the project.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Fall Wine Tasting Tomorrow!

Don't forget our first Fall Wine Tasting in Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory is TOMORROW evening from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. The theme is "A Potpourri from Around the Globe" and we are excited to have Joe Barsotti of Barsotti Wines back for this first fall tasting. Here's the wines guests will be able to sample:

Vina La Rosa La Palma Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chile: Fresh fruity nose of green apple, herbs and citron with a refreshingly dry, medium-bodied and tangy aftertaste.

X Winery Chardonnay 2008, Carneros: Tropical aromas of pineapple and pear with a rich mouth feel of apple, vanilla and butterscotch and balanced acidity on the finish.

VillaBella Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2005, Verona: Intense fruity nose of cherry, plum and spice with rich taste of coffee, cherries and white pepper and a full, long and elegant finish.
Cantos de Valpiedra Rioja 2005, Spain: Great aromatics of blackberry, tobacco and flowers with a soft burst of pepper and a rich fruity texture on the palate and a dry, generous finish.

We hope you can make it for this tasting and our next tasting November 19 with Bill Yost of Southern Wine & Spirits (more details on this one to come)! It's no too late to make reservations so email Gene Lucente or visit the Priory's front desk to get your tickets!

Priory History: The Boiler Room Ice Sculpture

This is a photo of what is now our Priory Hotel Fitness Center. When we acquired the property in 1984, the Fitness Center had been the boiler room for the monastery. In the three years it sat empty, pipes had burst in the room, causing this kind of cool looking ice build-up in the room. Pictured, by the way, are my Dad, Ed (on the right), and his friend Dick Beisel.

German Heritage Parade

Here's some photos from the German Heritage Day Parade which occured here in our Deutschtown Neighborhood recently. This was the first such parade in nearly 100 years, and it was a great success. Note Mayor Ravenstahl, a man with some Germanic heritage, was in attendance. The event was planned and executed by the Teutonia Mannerchor, a German singing society and club located about a half of a mile from The Priory. It celebrated its 150th birthday in 2004.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winter White Wedding Winner Video

Earlier this month, we announced that Angela DiTullio was the winner of our Winter White Wedding Giveaway. Here's some footage from the ceremony including the drawing of the winner. Congrats to Angela again!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Priory History: Tom Murphy Before He Was Mayor

This is a shot of Tom Murphy, former Mayor of Pittsburgh, at the dedication of the opening of The Priory in 1985. Murphy was state representative for the North Side at that point. He was elected Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in 1992 and served for three terms. As a state representative and then as Mayor, he was instrumental in assisting us in getting the Grand Hall off the ground by arranging for the lease of our Grand Hall parking lot.

NorthSide Now Website

The North Side Cultural Collaborative, which is a 501(c)(3) organization created by the North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce, has rolled out its new website NorthSide Now! ( This website is a compilation of all that is happening on the North Side (the general area of the city in which the Priory Hotel, Grand Hall and Priory Fine Pastries). It lists happenings in restaurants and taverns, in museums, at PNC Park and Heinz Field, at Allegheny General Hospital and at retail and other establishments throughout the area. It is a very vibrant, active website with constantly changing content. Check it out - I think you'll be impressed.

North Side Now! will also be rolling out as a magazine some time toward the end of 2009, and will be published three times per year. Keep your eyes open for it!

G-20 Post Mortem

National Guardsmen Block Access to the Ninth Street Bridge on North Shore side of the River
The G-20 Summit held in Pittsburgh at the end of September will be, in my estimation, a watershed moment for the region. It is an event which elevates the city's status on the world stage: we are a city that can handle -- smoothly -- a complex event with multiple layers of security involving the heads of state of 20 of the world's largest nations.

The summit was a bit surreal for the observer in the middle of it. Large chunks of downtown were completely cordoned off and there were blockades everywhere, making it difficult even to walk around. There were state police in riot gear and National Guardsmen with machine guns and humvees at intersections. As many noted, it looked as if one had wandered into the middle of a movie set.

The downside to this was that the shutdown of downtown caused some severe economic pain to downtown retailers and restaurants. Several restauranteers I spoke to mentioned to me that they had lost in the tens of thousands of dollars, though they were also philosophical about it since they perceived a lot of good redounding to the region. One does wonder if it was necessary to shut down so much of Downtown, given the amount of pain the shutdown has cost.

There was one large protest march which came over to the North Side from downtown on the Friday of the Summit. While the march was supposed to be peaceful the city was unconvinceed and had state troopers lining the route. The crowd trooped over the Seventh Street bridge and eventually up Cedar Avenue, stopping at East Commons Park, about 2 blocks from our hotel and directly across the street from the Rita's Italian Ice franchise that is our tenant on the corner of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue. While the police were concerned that troublemakers might glom on, the rally at the park went off without incident . Galen Moorer, our tenant in the Rita's building, even got some business out of the protesters!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter White Wedding Drawing Winners!

Councilwoman Harris Pulls the Winning Envelope

If you have read this blog before, you may be aware that over the past two years we have donated one of our new "Winter White Wedding" reception packages to a serviceman or woman who has been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. This is our way of saying "Thank you" to our servicepeople and their families who put their lives on the line, and make multiple sacrifices, to keep this nation safe. While a chance for a complimentary wedding reception is a small thing when compared with the sacrifices of the many, we hope that this contribution at least lets our service members and their loved ones know that their hardships are much appreciated by those of us at home.

I am greeted with a hug by winner Angela DiTullio after Councilwoman Harris pulled the winning envelope.

Contestants simply needed to fill out an application form. The drawing was open to members of any branch of the military who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and who were either stationed with a southwestern Pennsylvania unit or who resided (or his or her fiancee resided) in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The method of determining a winner was through a random drawing, which we held at the Grand Hall on September 23. After some cocktails and wonderful hors d'ouevres from our chefs Pete Phillipy and Mike Henney, our councilwoman Darlene Harris, pulled the winner.

Our drawing winners were Angela DiTullio and Joseph Joson. Both Angela and Joe are active duty Air Force. Angela serves as a recruiter here in the Pittsburgh area, while Joe is presently stationed at Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, on his second tour of duty. We are looking at a late February reception!
Winner Angela DiTullio (Left) and Runner Up Selena Gurreri

Monday, October 5, 2009

Head of the Ohio

The Head of the Ohio crew regatta was held here in Pittsburgh last Saturday. The Head of the Ohio is the tenth largest rowing regatta in the nation, and features competitors from all over the United States. Competitors are also all ages -- from novice rowers in their early teens to "Master" rowers in their 70's (not rowing against each other, of course). This event, which is always held on the first Saturday in October, is a wonderful way to spend the day if you are visiting Pittsburgh. The main viewing area is on the North bank of the Allegheny river, which features a wonderful park and a variety of dining establishments, such as Jerome Betttis Grille 36. It attracts thousands of people, and is well worth your time even if you do not know much about rowing.

The HOTO is sponsored by the Three Rivers Rowing Association, which is located on nearby Washington's Landing, with a state of the art boathouse and anything a rowing enthusiast might need. TRRA offers classes in sculling and kayaking, as well as a variety of other programs.

(On a personal note, my 15 year old daughter Laura's TRRA Juniors lightweight 4 came in sixth out of 13 boats; her teammates came in first in the HS girls' 8 race out of more than 20 competitors.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where Am I Contest October

We are happy to announce that Donna Allison is the winner from our September Where Am I Contest! Donna answered correctly - the September picture was taken at the bridge that crosses over Lake Elizabeth in North Park! She was randomly selected out of all of the correct answers to win a free overnight stay at The Priory! Congratulations Donna!

Every month we'll reveal a picture taken somewhere on Pittsburgh's North Side. It's up to you to figure out the exact location and then send your answer back to us within the specified time period. We'll put everyone's name who answered correctly into a raffle to win a free overnight stay at the Priory Hotel! It's that simple!

Study October's picture below and when you respond, please be as specific as possible. For example, don't just write "Museum." Write "3rd Floor of the Andy Warhol Museum, Sandusky Street."

If you think you know "Where I Am in the North Side," email your answer, name, phone number and address to by Friday, October 30, 2009. We'll announce the winner the following week on this blog! Good Luck!