In the winter of 2010, Michelle Trumble and her husband, Kevin, were both laid off from their jobs. They decided to take their lives in a new direction: bar ownership. And as luck would have it, Bill's Tavern in Lower Lawrenceville was for sale.
The building, which has been occupied since 1880, is full of history, as the two discovered while they were renovating the space. "We've had everything in here," says Michelle Trumble (a former employee of Pittsburgh City Paper's parent company). It's housed several pharmacies, a few barbershops, a livery stable, a shoe store, a church-goods store, restaurants and, since 1968, a bar. A few relics pay homage to the former occupants: glass blocks from Joe & Mary's Glass Bar; a nearly 9-foot-tall Bevador cooler; a perfectly preserved pharmacy bottle from the 1910s.
Despite all the history, the bar has a decidedly contemporary feel. "We wanted to create a place where we would like to go and have a drink," says Trumble. The space features a large selection of wine, beer and cocktails; organic snacks ("you can eat healthy while you're out drinking"); and a dog-friendly back patio.
Trumble, who has several dogs herself, says opening the back patio to canine companions was an easy decision. "There are very few places you can go and have something to eat and drink with your dog," she says. Such restrictions, she says, are "not cool; your dog wants to be with you, and you want to be with your dog." Just remember to keep your dogs on the patio, as health regulations prohibit dogs from being inside.
Thursday is charity night at the bar; organizations can send a few guest bartenders and Eclipse will give 5 percent of the night's proceeds to their cause. Past organizations include the American Diabetes Foundation, and Who's Your Brother.
There's a bit of a learning curve for the bartenders, Trumble acknowledges: "They're scared, but eventually they get into it and have a good time."