JG's Tarentum Station Grille captures the history of the sleepy Allegheny County borough in a nutshell.
The bar/restaurant is housed in an old train depot; thousands of passengers, including President William Taft, passed though the building on their way to and from Pittsburgh. There's even a long railroad mural—painted by local businessman Wally Sommer—detailing the whistle-stop town's history on the wall outside the building.
But after the station closed in 1960, the structure was left in a state of neglect.
"They boarded it up for 20 years," says general manager John Norris. Thanks to financial support from the borough and county, the building was renovated in 1984. Current owner John Greco purchased the building in 2008.
"It's a great historical destination point for people to come here," says Borough Manager Bill Rossey, himself a strong supporter of the establishment.
And Taft is far from the only politician to stop by. Democrat Rich Fitzgerald and Republican D. Raja, amongst others, stopped in during last year's county-executive race.
"We've had a lot of political candidates have meetings here because of its character," says Rossey, adding that the bar's reputation as a community gathering spot made it an obvious choice.
Beverage selections at the Station Grille are straightforward: Macro-brewed beers are augmented with a fairly diverse selection of Anheuser-Busch/InBev specialty brews, including Shock Top, Redhook, Blue Dawg and Leffe. There's also a martini list whose offerings largely play on dessert, which choices like Key Lime Pie, Razberi and Mint Chocolate Cake. "It's a casual type of bar," says Norris.
And for all the history here, there's also a tall tale afoot. A few steps from the bar is the affectionately named "Sinatra Table," complete with a picture of the legendary singer dining at a train station. "It's the most asked-for table," says Norris.
But did Sinatra himself ever set foot in the bar?
"Let's just call it ... folklore," Norris says.