Hambone's bar in Lawrenceville has closed permanently | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Hambone's bar in Lawrenceville has closed permanently

click to enlarge Hambone's bar in December 2019 - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Hambone's bar in December 2019
The coronavirus pandemic hit Hambone's bar particularly hard. The longtime bar and venue on Butler street, beloved as a universally friendly dive, struggled like most bars during the beginning of the pandemic closures. Those struggles continued and became insurmountable after Hambone's owner Jeff Holt passed away in late September at the age of 46 from unknown causes.

Yesterday, Hambone's announced that it has permanently closed. According to a Facebook post, the restaurant had taken on too much debt, and the bar and venue will be put up for sheriff’s sale.

We are very sad to have to tell you all. We tried, we really did.. but with the death of Jeff, the bank has made the...

Posted by Hambone's on Saturday, October 10, 2020
Holt’s passing really hit Pittsburghers hard. Many people shared stories on social media and several spoke to Pittsburgh City Paper about his role at the helm of Hambone's. The bar was also well-known as a venue for emerging entertainers in comedy, burlesque, and music to get their start playing live shows in Pittsburgh.

“Jeff was an artist who created a home for comedians, visual artists, and performers across the city,” said local comedian Amanda Averell in September. “Hambone's is a home to so many and that's because of Jeff. He believed so much in the comedy scene of the city and all the comedians. He made everyone feel welcome.


Even before the pandemic, Hambone's was showing signs of financial struggles. In Dec. 2019, the business was closed shortly due to delinquent Alcoholic Beverage Tax payments, but the debt was quickly paid and it soon reopened. According to longtime friend and former Hambone's employee Mary Jo Coll, Holt also lost his fiance, Jocelyn Marie Hill, in 2019 after she suddenly passed away during a visit to Hambone’s. She was 43.

Despite these hardships, Hambone's was still universally loved in the city. This year, it took third place for Best Dive Bar in CP's Best of Pittsburgh readers' poll.

Hambone's thanked patrons, performers, staff, and vendors for their support of the bar over the years.

“Just from all of us, to all of you, we will miss you and goodbye,” reads a post on Facebook. “We will provide details of any sale of equipment when we know. Thank you to everyone, patrons, performers, staff, vendors ... all of you.”

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