Mixtape, in Garfield, blurs the lines between music venue, bar and art gallery | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Mixtape, in Garfield, blurs the lines between music venue, bar and art gallery

“Mix tapes were a labor of love and so is our bar.”

When Elaina Holko and Katie Molchan began making plans to open a bar, they knew that they wanted a casual hangout spot with some classy flair. After a year of looking for the right location, they found an old carpet store in Garfield. Holko and Molchan made the purchase and set about transforming the dilapidated structure. Because they also wanted music to be a part of the theme — and wanted the venue name to be more than just a meaningless moniker neatly stenciled above the entrance — “Mixtape” was chosen.

“Mix tapes were a labor of love,” says Molchan, “and so is our bar.”

“And there’s variety,” adds Holko, noting that on Saturday evenings, when Holko runs the DJ booth and Molchan serves drinks with the rest of the staff,  the bar is referred to as Mixtape Dance Lounge “When we aren’t running the Dance Lounge,” Holko continues, “we are Mixtape Music Gallery and Café.” 

Visitors are likely to find ’90s chart-toppers in rotation — Holko is quick to note her love for all things No Doubt, and if anyone has any ideas for a Tragic Kingdom cocktail, she’s open to suggestions. But the local music scene is most notably present. 

“We will feature a band for about a month or so,” Holko explains, “sell their merch and put their album on the playlist.” Featured bands and artists have included Wreck Loose, Wings for Armor and Alyssa Turkowski. 

Holko and Melchan also book live acts, but because Mixtape shares a wall with a dance studio, they like to keep it lounge-y and intimate. 

“We didn’t think we could do live music when we bought the place,” Melchan says, “but then Elaina’s friends were in town and told us they were playing at our place.” 

“They pretty much invited themselves,” adds Holko, “and they’re a percussion trio so we really didn’t know how it would work [because of the volume]. But we didn’t get any complaints, so we decided to keep the live thing going.”

All themes aside, Holko and Melchan are committed to being a part of the neighborhood. “We want to see our neighbors,” Holko says, “and just be a nice, friendly place.”