I don’t want to go to a bar that’s got the personality of a mortuary, do you? I’d much rather go somewhere that makes me feel welcome, a place where the bartenders are friendly and the atmosphere has that wonderful and unique Pittsburgh homliness. Porky’s is that place. Located on Bridge Street in Etna, Porky’s Bar & Grill is a wonderful step in the right direction of bringing the craft beer scene to the local bars. Ever since purchasing and taking over ownership of Porky’s on June 27 of this year, co-owners Chad Jockel and Nick Weiss have strived to maintain Porky’s classic Pittsburgh aura, carrying on 75 years of Pittsburgh tradition.
“Walking into Porky’s is like walking into your living room,” says Chad; Nick agrees and adds in, “It just feels like home.” The walls are lined with large panorama portraits of the streets of Etna, art from local talent, and of course enough Pens and Steelers paraphernalia to make any yinzer feel nice and comfy. Knowing that actions speak louder than words, Nick and Chad decided to not only keep the pictures and neon signs on the walls, they also kept the entire original staff, noting the importance of keeping the regulars smiling and feeling welcome.
As you enter Porky’s, your eyes are almost immediately drawn to the beautiful and newly installed 28 draft lines, all of which contain some of the most notable craft beers (and old standby’s) you could long for. I asked Nick and Chad about buying Porky’s, I wondered whether or not there was any hesitation from the previous owners of 27 years in converting the bar from what was known for generations as a shot and beer bar into a craft beer bar.
They immediately began to tell me about the the previous owners, Brian and Virginia, and about the wonderful help and enthusiasm they received during the purchase and handing over of the bar. Chad mentioned he actually used to deliver beer to Porky’s in years past, and when he heard it was for sale, he immediately called up Nick and told him to come down to have a look. They told me Brian and Virginia had several other offers, but they were waiting for the right people to offer, people who would really look after and take care of the bar.
“They were the absolute best throughout the whole process,” Chad states, “they even stayed on a week after we re-opened just to show us what needs done.” Nick laughs and says, “there’s a lot of little surprises that come with owning a 100 year-old building.”
I was curious to know what the regulars thought about the new beers on tap; were they put off by the Raspberry Porters, or were willing to add some different flavors to their palate? Were there any conversions from “the usual” to something fresh? Chad tells me there have been several. “The regulars love it… I’ve definitely switched some (insert large brand here) drinkers to the craft scene.”
The two went on to tell me that even the locals who stick with their usual love the new draft lines and the changes the new ownership has brought. “We really try to listen to what our customers want,” Nick states; “we redid our entire menu, added smoked pork and smoked brisket… the people really wanted a fish sandwich, so we added a fish sandwich. We make our own tartar sauce and it’s one of our best sellers.” Chad even says they’re open to customer input on beers. Chad tells me, “If you come in and you want a beer we don’t have, we’ll try to get it for you.” To me, that’s the sound of owners that care. The two also told me they were extremely excited to be using local ingredients, local meats from Tom Friday’s, making all their own sauces and spices, and even smoking their own meats in-house!
When I asked them what the future held, they both looked quite bright-eyed, telling me about how happy they are with the growth they’ve seen. In the last four months they’ve seen craftdrinkers come from Lawrenceville, Sharpsburg, and even Cranberry Township to check out theawesome beer being served at Porky’s. They both say the growth is great, and their involvement in the community is growing as well.
Porky’s currently hosts open mic nights, trivia nights, participates in bar crawls, Chad and Nick are now catering events using the delicious food at Porky’s, and the two are even in talks with a few excellent local breweries about collaboration beers! The two also filled me in on the spooky details of their Halloween party on October 27th, as well as shared their excitement about the first punk show Porky’s is hosting on December 5th.
With so many new things happening at Porky’s you might be worried that this piece of Pittsburgh history would lose its charm, but worry no longer! Chad and Nick have a very clear vision for Porky’s, a vision that is set to take the bar and the company to the future without changing anything that made it a place like home in the past.