CP Illustration: Josie Norton
When people from across the world are asked about Pittsburgh, they usually talk about the Steelers, the Pirates, or the Penguins. Sports have a strong grip on Pittsburgh’s culture, but Pittsburgh City Paper
wants readers to understand that the region has so much more to offer.
the City of Champions, and to CP
, the city’s greatest champions are the people in our arts and culture, food and drink, and small businesses. Our champions are the ones in the streets fighting for change, the ones baking our bread, the ones making music to help us get through our day.
Best Of Pittsburgh has been an annual tradition for over 20 years, but this year is different. Many local businesses and organizations went through restrictions as a way to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. We weren’t even sure if we were going to be able to complete a Best Of issue this year, not just because of the uncertainty around COVID-19, but because the pandemic had hit us hard financially too, and we had to furlough a significant amount of our staff. But we heard positive feedback from nominees who said continuing CP
’s Best Of tradition would provide them a much-needed boost.
is also learning lessons from this year on how to make our Best Of even more representative. Just like how the adversity of the pandemic has brought out some truly creative solutions from local businesses, we have adjusted and decided to highlight those with some special COVID-related categories. The country has also been undergoing one of the largest civil rights movements in its history, as Pittsburgh and other cities across the U.S. have been protesting in the streets calling for an end to police brutality as part of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. This year, CP
has created new categories for Black-owned, people of color-owned, and LGBTQ-owned businesses. These establishments already have an uphill battle in a region with some of the worst racial inequality in the country, and we want to do our part to make sure every business in Pittsburgh has an equal opportunity to be recognized.
We know there are things we missed, and we will continue to adjust each year to better represent Pittsburgh. Our changes to this year’s poll actually began last year, when Michael Canton, host of The Soul Show on local radio station WYEP, made some suggestions to revamp the music categories to account for more diversity. This year, following his lead, we split up Blues and Jazz into two separate categories and added new music categories, including R&B, World Music, and more. It’s because of feedback like Canton’s that we continue to grow and learn, and we encourage you to send suggestions after looking through this year’s list to let us know how we can improve for next year. (Don’t miss Canton’s new monthly CP
Finally, we know our 2020 Best Of issue is bittersweet. The economic fallout of the pandemic has caused dozens, if not hundreds, of Pittsburgh businesses and organizations to shut down. Some were former Best Of Pittsburgh winners. Some were so loved, they won anyway this year, even though coronavirus ended their runs. Our only hope is that we can remember how great they were and learn to appreciate all the winners as much as we can this year, and moving forward.