Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Hours at the Monks' Bar

Treat yourself to a refreshing sangria at the Monks' Bar in the Priory Hotel, the Monks' Bar weekly special. The Sangria is made from our special recipe, and is best enjoyed in our wonderful courtyard.

Also, in honor of the unofficial start of summer (i.e. Memorial Day week), we are kicking off our Monks' Bar happy hour, Monday through Thursday every week, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. At happy hour, all cocktails are $2.00 off. So if you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by to see us!!

New Raptor Deck at the National Aviary

The National Aviary, located a few short blocks from the Priory, has just opened a new "Raptor Deck." The deck, which is located on the roof of the Aviary's new wing, features hawks and other birds of prey soaring from their perches and into the sky over the Allegheny Commons Park, grabbing their prey in mid-air, and then swooping back to base. It's a spectacular, one-of-a-kind show, and it adds to the fabric of attractions that you can only see in Pittsburgh. It's well worth a trip to the Aviary to check out the show.

The Raptor Deck shows take off twice daily at 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. They are not included in the base admission.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Priory Noted as Top Romantic Getaway

Virginia Linn of the Post-Gazette included the Priory and its new rooms in the "Closer to Home" section of an article describing various romantic getaway spots handy to Western Pennsylvania including Nemacolin Woodlands, the Greenbrier and the Bedford Springs Hotel.

Monday, May 23, 2011

St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Priory

Joe Holleman, a writer for the St. Louis daily newspaper, the Post-Dispatch, stayed with us recently on a tour of National League Central cities. The Cardinals, hard as it is to say, have been the most consistently good team in the NL Central for years, and their fans are extremely devoted. We know when the Cardinals are in town at the Priory Hotel from all the red and white jerseys floating through our hallways. At any rate, Joe wrote a nice little piece on our hotel, noting that although he sometimes likes the reassurance of chain hotels, there is nothing like finding a boutique property like the Priory. He noted that our bed "was one of the most comfortable I've slept on while traveling." We'll take the compliment. Read Joe Holleman's article here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Priory Hospitality Group Named Business of the Year by Chamber of Commerce

Our Priory Hospitality Group was named the "Best Established Business" at the annual gala of the North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce. We were excited to receive the award and grateful for the recognition after 25 years of business in Pittsburgh's North Side.

Pictured is Priory Hotel founder Edward Graf and me with the award.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drink of the Week at the Monks' Bar

The "El Ron"

Our Drink of the Week at the Monks' is the "El Ron." It's refreshing and tart, featuring Bacardi and Malibu rums, lime, grapefruit, and ginger beer. It's $6. Be sure to see Ann or Deana and ask for one.

Review of Cirque du Soleil's "Totem"

I was privileged to see Cirque du Soleil's new traveling show, "Totem," which opened in Pittsburgh last week. It was, in a word, stunning. It is so original that it defies description. The sets are innovative and enormous, featuring a massive (biological) cell-like enclosure mid-stage, and a state of the art digital screen floor which mimics the beach, the ocean or whatever whimsical setting the CDS folks want. There's humor, acrobatics and breathtaking feats on the trapeze. One surprising performance featured a pair of rollerskated Native Americans on a tiny drum which could have easily been hokey but was instead fresh and memorable.

Part circus, part play, part performance art -- the best one can describe it is to say is that it is fascinating and captivating show. Totem, tells the story of evolution from a variety of perspectives – from ancient amphibians to Native Americans to a 19th century scientist to a trio of frolicking beachgoers. It's well worth the price of admission, and worth a trip to Pittsburgh if it's not coming to your town or city.

"Totem" is being performed under a huge tent, the "Grand Chapiteau," in a massive parking lot in the Strip District, just a bit over a mile from our hotel. It runs through June 5.

We are offering a package, so please see our website for more information.

For information on ticket levels and pricing, click here

Another New Package: Steel Heritage


Limited Availability: Upcoming Dates – May 21,

June 18, August 20, September 17, October 15.

Tours leave at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.

Please Note that the Priory Hotel only has room availability for Friday,

May 20 & Friday October 14 for this the May and October Carrie Furnace Tours.

Once known as the “Smoky City,” Pittsburgh was justly famous for its steel making prowess.Only a generation ago, massive steel mills, miles long, lined the rivers just yards from downtown Pittsburgh. With the collapse of the Western Pennsylvania steel industry in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, most of these mills were dismantled, leaving little of that rich industrial heritage.

Fortunately, some remnants of this gritty, hardworking way of life have been preserved, and The Priory’s Steel City Heritage Package offers a chance to step back in time to witness the era. The Steel City Heritage Package includes:

* A one night stay for two in a Priory Hotel Standard Room or Deluxe King Room

* Two tickets for the Hardhat Tour of the former U.S. Steel Carrie Furnace Complex in Rankin (approximately 10 miles from the Priory) hosted by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Tour is approximately 2 hours in length. www.riversofsteel.org

* Two tickets to the Heinz History Center;

* A bottle of your choice of red or white wine, or champagne, in your room at check in;

* A copy of our own tale of historic restoration: The Story of a Resurrection: Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory.

Rate: $220.00 plus tax for Standard Room; $250 plus tax for Deluxe King rooms. .

Note: The Carrie Furnaces is a heavily industrialized site. Please dress accordingly. Heels and/or open-toed shoes will not be permitted. At this time, Carrie Furnace is not wheel chair accessible.

See this blog below for a set of photographs of the Carrie Furnace site from my visit there last summer.

New Package: Cirque du Soleil Package

Cirque du Soleil Package (May 12 – June 5, 2011)

There is nothing like Cirque du Soleil. It is so original that it defies description. Part circus, part play, part performance art, the best one can say is that it is fascinating and captivating show. Cirque du Soleil’s new touring show, Totem, tells the story of evolution from a variety of perspectives – from ancient amphibians to Native Americans to a 19th century scientist. It features some absolutely breathtaking stunts, and its sets are extraordinary. It’s not to be missed.

With the Grand Chapiteau (the huge big top tent which houses the Cirque) located in the nearby Strip District, The Priory Hotel is proud to offer a Cirque du Soleil package. The package includes:

* An overnight in a Priory Standard or Deluxe King Room

* A bottle of red wine, white wine or champagne in your room at check in

D* A $90 Dinner Voucher at Cioppino Restaurant, helmed by famed local chef Greg Alauzen. Cioppino is located within easy walking distance of the Grand Chapiteau. (You can valet park your car at Cioppino for no charge and walk to the Cirque).


Sunday – Thursday: Standard room -- $235 plus tax; Deluxe King -- $265 plus tax

Friday—Saturday: Standard Room -- $255 plus tax; Deluxe King -- $285 plus tax.

All pricing is based on double occupancy. Please note that Cirque du Soleil is not performing on May 30 (Memorial Day) and May 31).

For information on ticket levels and pricing, click here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Actor David Conrad on Why He's Always Going to be a Pittsburgher

David Conrad, a television, movie and stage actor, is a Braddock native who's appeared most recently on TV's the "Ghost Whisperer." Though he resides in Los Angeles, he is frequently back in Pittsburgh, and maintained an apartment in the Strip District until just recently. He appeared last June in "Burn This" at the New Hazlett Theater just blocks from the Priory. At any rate, David Conrad writes a moving column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about what it's like to be from Pittsburgh -- you "know your place," meaning that no matter how wealthy, educated or successful you are, you know you're not better than anyone else.

Read David Conrad's article here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Carrie Furnace Part II - First Hand Photos

In May 5 post, I noted that the old Carrie Furnace facility of U.S. Steel was going to be opened for hard hat tours by its new owner, Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation. I had the opportunity to take an individually guided tour recently -- the pictures above came from that tour. This is really a fascinating tour through history -- keep your eyes opened for an industrial history tour with the Carrie Furnace as the centerpiece.

By the way, the photo on the top is of a sculpture made by local artists who had broken in to the site some years ago and created a massive deer head out of scrap wire.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Behind the Scenes at the Consol Center

The Consol Energy Center opened in August of 2010, and has rapidly gained traction as one of the premier event facilities in the nation, hosting events ranging Penguins hockey games to Duquesne University basketball games, to concerts including Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney. I had a chance to tour the Consol while under construction. It was an awesome sight, and the tour took us in the catwalks well above the floor -- likely the last time I'll ever have the chance to get up there.

In any event, above are some shots of the Consol back when.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Restaurant - NOLA on the Square

I had the pleasure of dining at NOLA on the Square in downtown Pittsburgh the other day. NOLA, owned and operated by Yves Carreau, is our local restaurant scene's first venture in the cuisine of New Orleans in some time. NOLA offers a varied menu with both Creole and Cajun-type cuisines. Opened in March, it has become the hit of downtown, with packed lunch crowds and a huge after work cadre as well.

I found the service to be professional and knowledgeable. The menu looked great; I had shrimp and grits, which offered big shrimp in a bowl with grits and a very nice brother. I also had the crawfish soup, which was likewise excellent. Both offered full flavors without a lot of heat.

Carreau owns two other highly rated downtown restaurants , Sonoma Grill and Seviche, both of which are in the Penn Avenue corridor near the Convention Center.

NOLA on the Square is well worth a trip -- whether pre-theater or if you're just looking to try something different. I strongly recommend it.

Click here for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review restaurant critique of NOLA on the Square.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Brian O'Neill Column

Post-Gazette columnist Brian O'Neill posted this thoughtful column on the perils and rewards of running an independent business amid national chains, with a focus on our recent Priory Hotel expansion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 15

The Pittsburgh Marathon launches on Sunday morning, May 15. The start point is downtown Pittsburgh on Liberty Avenue, and the race's finish line is here on the North Side on General Robinson Street by Heinz Field. The race passes directly by us on East Ohio Street (just two short blocks to the North). The vanguard should be coming by early - the race starts at 7:00 a.m. and East Ohio Street is between mile 4 and mile 5.

Also be mindful of road closures the morning of May 15. For information on street closures, click here.

Aside from the road issues, it should be a festive time.

Priory Courtyard Wine Tasting for May

Join us for our first Courtyard Wine Tasting on May 18, 2011 (Wednesday). We will be featuring wine host Lee Ann Sommerfeld who will showcase a variety of central California wines, including several by noted winemaker Joey Tensley, of Tensley Wines in Santa Barbara County. The wines we will be tasting are:

Tensley Camp 4 Vineyard Blanc 2010

Carina Cellars Viognier 2010

Tensley Santa Barbara Syrah 2009

Carina Cellars Clairvoyant 2007 (a red blend)

The wines are delightful and hand crafted. Lee Ann also has an interesting story to tell as she left her life in corporate America to fulfill a dream of starting her own wine distribution business. She knows her Tensley wines like the back of her hand.

Also joining us, from Boulder, CO, is Chris Laughrey, who will be providing entertainment. Chris played all five of our outdoor gigs in 2009, and we look forward to seeing him again after all this time.

After this Wednesday tasting, we are back to our usual third Thursdays for the rest of the Summer.

Tickets are $50 per person. As always, our chefs are offering four courses of scrumptious hors d'oeuvres paired with the wines. RSVP to Gene Lucente at gene@thepriory.com if you are attending. Hope to see you on May 18!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Redux!

For the week after Cinco de Mayo, our specialty drink is the "Taquito." A blend of 1800 Silver Tequila, lime, sugar and mint, the Taquito's tequila flavor is enhanced and softened by the mint. It's an unusual, but refreshing combination. Try one - this week only.

We are also running a special on Dos Equis Amber - - $4.00 per bottle -- till it runs out.

Stop by and say Hi to Ann at the Monks' Bar during the week and Deana on the weekend. We would love to see you.

What a difference a year makes!

Here are before and after shots -- from our groundbreaking in March 2010 to our ribbon cutting for our new wing earlier this year. From empty lot to fully developed hotel facility all in less than a year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Post-Gazette Coverage of New Wing Opening

A little late, but here's a link to the Post-Gazette's coverage of the opening of our new wing. The boys pictured are our architect, Bob Baumbach's, two sons Leo and Eli and my eight year old son Charlie (on the far right).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Post-Gazette Mention of the New Priory Wing

Our new wing got a nice, if relatively short, write up in our local daily paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in an article by writer Patricia Sheridan discussing new lodging in the city. You can find the article here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cirque du Soleil's Totem Opens May 12

Cirque du Soleil's newest touring show "Totem" opens in Pittsburgh on May 12. "Totem" traces human history from pre-human amphibians to man aspiring to fly. It's said to be a beautifully presented and entrancing show, and well worth attending. The show plays at a specially designed tent just across the Allegheny River from the Priory in the Strip District. We have availability during the show's run, so make it combine the show with a little getaway. The Show runs until May 29.

Corning Works' "Glue Factory Project" is This Weekend

The incomparable choreographer and dancer Beth Corning (formerly the director of Dance Alloy here in Pittsburgh) is hosting her Glue Factory Project at the New Hazlett Theater just a few blocks from the Priory. The Glue Factory Project features five seasoned performers (meaning over the age of 40!), including Peter Sparling, a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Company, and Ms. Corning herself. Tickets are $25 apiece, $20 for students and seniors. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (a pay what you can performance). For more information, check out Beth's CorningWorks.org website.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carrie Furnace Tours Coming

Pittsburgh' steel making past is well known. There was a time not too long ago where steel mills lined the city's Monongahela River, from the flats of the South Side (now the nightlife center of the region) all the way up the river into West Virginia. Nearly all of these mills are gone now (U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson Works, Irvin Works and Clairton Coke Works stand as exceptions) -- not only not functioning but also torn down. Thus an important part of the fabric of the region's history has been torn away and can never be replaced.

What does remain is the Carrie Furnace, in Rankin, just a few miles up the Monongahela from the City of Pittsburgh. The Carrie Furnace was a blast furnace facility, and was once part of U.S. Steel's famed Homestead Works (Rankin is across the river from Homestead). It was opened in 1907 and closed in the late 1970's. It produced iron for use in the steel making process at the Homestead plant across the river. Saved from the wrecking ball for preservation purposes, the Carrie Furnace is now owned by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, which has plans to create a tour site. Although severely deteriorated, and sitting on a wide swath of flat land along the river bank. Rivers of Steel Marketing Director Sherris Moreira was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility, which is not now open to the public. It is an eerie experience, walking through the abandoned and rusting steel superstructure, but it does connect one with the region's history. Click here for Rivers of Steel's summary of the Carrie Furnace's history.

It is Rivers of Steel's hope that the Carrie Furnace can be developed into a tourist destination, so that people can see and experience life in a steel mill. Hard hat tours are starting at the beginning of May on selected Saturdays; we're planning on putting together an overnight package with Rivers of Steel to include the Carrie Furnace tour. Keep your eyes open for it. In the meantime, click here for more information concerning hard hat tours.

Look for my photos from my Carrie Furnace visit in a future post.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mint Juleps!!!!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby, our new Monks' Bar (the smallest bar in Pittsburgh!) we are featuring Mint Juleps this week. Made with Makers' Mark bourbon, sugar and fresh mint, the Mint Julep is the traditional drink of Churchill Downs and a week long visitor to the Monks'. Come see us. The public is welcome!

Grand Hall Named "Best Restaurant" by Pittsburgh Magazine

Our Grand Hall was voted as the first place winner in the Reception Hall category of Pittsburgh Magazine's annual Best Restaurants competition. Congratulations to our General Manager Walter Czapliewicz and chefs Pete Phillipy and Mike Henney. We'll all be appearing at the Best Restaurants party at Heinz Field on June 6.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theater Sho-Tel Package

We've designed a brand new overnight package in partnership with the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater for its coming season (which runs from May through December). With its home in the adjacent to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, PICT is one of Pittsburgh’s premier theater companies, Named “Theater of the Year” in 2004 & 2006, PICT offers up tangy and polished productions of both old and new classics – from Mamet to Shakespeare to Wilde. Treat yourself out to a show at the PICT and return to a cozy night’s stay in one of our brand new Deluxe King rooms in the just completed new wing of the Priory Hotel. Your package consists of two tickets (best available reserved seating) for one of the six plays offered in PICT’s upcoming season, the overnight stay, and (for an upcharge, transportation to and from the show). In 2011 PICT is featuring the theme “Dynamic Duos,” and is offering Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, House & Garden by Alan Ayckbourn, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Race by David Mamet and The Mask of Moriarty by Hugh Leonard. For more information on the Theater’s schedule click here.

Package Price: $199 plus tax. Package price with limousine transportation to and from the show: $294 plus tax. Contact us at (412) 231-3338 or 1-866-3PRIORY to make a reservation.

Hotel stays are subject to availability and are priced per double occupancy. Please note that the ticket portion of this package is non-refundable. Please allow a 24 hour cancellation period for the hotel stay; any cancellations within 24 hours of the date and time of check in will be charged for the one night’s hotel stay portion of the package price.