Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good News for Beer Lovers!!

The Penn Brewery, which had been a mainstay business in our neighborhood for more than 20 years, will reopen soon. Tom Pastorius, the founder of the microbrewery, has purchased the business from the investment group which had purchased it from him more than six years ago. The microbrewery brewed and served authentic German beers, including its flagship Penn Pilsner. Earlier this year, just months after Pastorius retired from active operations at the brewery, the investment group shut brewing operations down at the North Side facility and transferred all brewing to a plant in Wilkes Barre. In the meantime, the much loved Penn Brewery Brewpub was the subject of a highly publicized tug of war between the owners of the brewery building and the new operators of Penn Brewery. After announcing the Brewpub would be shut down, the parties struck an 11th hour deal to keep it open in March. However, the damage was done - business at the pub never rebounded to anywhere near the pre-announcement levels and eventually shut down last summer.

Bob Batz, the estimable Post-Gazette Food & Beverage writer (and beer guru) has been following the story closely. Here is his report in today's Post-Gazette.

Tom P reports that he plans to start brewing immediately and will reopen the restaurant as soon as the beer is ready. We at The Priory welcome our neighbor and friend back, and look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas in Allegheny West

Some of the greatest attractions of our North Side home are the neighborhoods within the North Side itself. About a mile to the west of The Priory is Allegheny West, a late Victorian era neighborhood which was home to the well-to-do and the really well-to-do. Spectacular mansions on Ridge Avenue, the former Millionaires' Row, were home to many of Pittsburgh's industrialists, including B.F Jones, one of the founders of Jones & Laughlin Steel (now LTV Steel) and the Thaw family. (A Thaw scion, Harry K. Thaw, was involved in a scandal at the turn of the 20th century where he shot and killed noted New York architect Stanford White, who had been having an affair with his wife, the showgirl Evelyn Nesbit. This incident and the ensuing trial was memorably portrayed on film in "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" (1955) and in "Ragtime" (1981)). Many of these mansions still exist, and are now home to offices and classrooms of the Community College of Allegheny County. Down the hill a ways were the homes of the prosperous, but not super rich. Many of these homes have been lovingly restored; one is home to Steelers owner (and now Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland) Dan Rooney and his wife Pat. Lincoln Avenue and Beech Avenue are the highlights (Beech Avenue was also home to writer Gertrude Stein and novelist Mary Roberst Rinehart).

Recently, the Post-Gazette ran an interesting story on Allegheny West and its upcoming Christmas House Tour. The House Tour is well worth a look - in many ways it is like walking back in time. Tickets on the regular tour cost $20 per person; there are some speciality tours, including a tea tour, which you may also want to inquire about. Tickets may be purchased through the Allegheny West community website, http://www.alleghenywest.org/, or by calling (412) 323-8884.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Rivers Film Fest November 6 through 21

The annual Three Rivers Film Festival is set to kick off tomorrow, November 6. The festival, which is concentrated at the Regent Square Theater in Regent Square, the Harris Theater downtown, and the Melwood Screening Room in Oakland, will screen dozens of films from around the world. For more information on these venues visit the Pittsburgh Filmmakers website. Highlights include "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," featuring the late Heath Ledger, "Precious," which won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and the locally filmed "If It Ain't Broke, Break It" starring Steve Guttenberg. Check the Three Rivers Film Festival Web Site for a listing of all films, along with times and locations. The festival runs through November 21.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Herb Alpert @ the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild this Weekend

Legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert (late of the Tijuana Brass) is appearing Saturday and Sunday November 6 & 7 at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild here in the Manchester section of Pittsburgh's North Side. A nationally reknowned performance and recording space, the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild features a variety of top notch jazz acts throughout the year. The show Saturday starts at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday's matinee is at 2:00 p.m. Call 412 323-4000 for more information.