Thanks to Carrie Clayton and Spencer Warren, of Subversive Cocktails and Penn Avenue Fish Company, Downtown will welcome a new neighbor, Mr. Rogers, in January. Even unfinished, the spot at 245 Seventh Ave. already gives off a sense of modern meets old-school, with booths and barware picked up from local Goodwills. The bar top has been salvaged from a wooden lane at Dormont Lanes bowling alley, and in the basement, slabs of marble, hewn to look like dominos, stand ready to line the counter’s façade. At the door, an illuminated street lantern greets patrons.
Clayton and Warren are intent on creating a friendly hangout. “The people who make Pittsburgh Pittsburgh can’t afford to hang out Downtown anymore. That’s the point of Mr. Rogers — to have cheap beer, cheap cocktails and cheap wine, but also really good stuff at the same time,” says Clayton. The menu will feature 10 cocktails, eight drafts, around 40 cans and bottles of beer, and nearly a dozen wines by the glass. Cocktail prices will range from $8 to $10, and for the cocktail-curious, there will be an expanded binder menu behind the bar. Food will be bar-forward (burgers, sushi, salads, fish and chips).
As longtime bartenders themselves, Warren and Clayton prioritized hiring staff who can shine behind the bar or on the floor. Both Warren and Clayton will be taking bar shifts and will be offering an opportunity for staff to work toward owning a stake in the venture.
While you wait for the bar to open, Mr. Rogers is available for private parties; cardigan and comfy sneakers optional. Additionally, the concept for the space is three-fold; besides the bar, there will be the Penn Cove Eatery lunch counter and a retail wine shop, both of which hope to open soon. The bottle shop, which will offer mostly special-order wines unavailable in the state stores, will feature more than 200 wines curated by Clayton; local wine-industry folks will also have a monthly curated section. “We’re working on having an all-female curated wine list,” says Warren. The pair plans to emphasize tastings and on-the-floor customer service. The wine shop plans to be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., so you can grab that after-dinner bottle you forgot, or even bring it over to Mr. Rogers for a corkage fee.
In the meantime, there’s plenty for Subversive Cocktails to do. The pair is bringing back its iteration of the Miracle holiday pop-up bar from Cocktail Kingdom. Miracle on Market, inside the Original Oyster House in Market Square, opened the day after Thanksgiving and will be serving up holiday cheer nightly until New Year’s Eve. A portion of the proceeds will go to 412 Food Rescue. Last year, the bar donated around $5,000. So, run, run, Rudolph, to soak up the over-the-top decorations; drink a festive beverage; and snack on food from the Original Oyster House. If you’re lucky, you can snag a hot chocolate from Clayton’s daughter, Adeline Whitlock, who’ll be running The Mini Marshmallow Miracle, 4-6 p.m. every Sunday in December.