Luke Parker and his family turned the former Zippy’s Saloon — a neighborhood dive said to be a true taste of Pittsburgh — into a trendy bar Rand soon-to-be gastropub Red’s Good News.
But the full history of Red’s goes long past Zippy’s.
During renovations, the family uncovered a trough built into the bar. These gutter-like spittoons were common pre-Prohibition features and were typically filled with a constant flow of water to flush away the dirt — many bar patrons were industry workers — and ample amounts of spit produced from chewing tobacco into a nearby drain. Each trough ran the length of the bar, extending just far enough past the edge of the bartop so spit could fall freely into the water, not onto the walls, floors, or counters.
Red’s replaced the trough with a simple, metal footrest during construction, and with good reason. As nights turned late and drinks kept flowing, the gutters went from spittoons to a place for standing patrons to relieve themselves.
Along with the spittoon, Red’s has removed any sense of “dive” leftover from bars past. Inside, it’s surprisingly bright, with fresh paint and vibrant patterns livening the space up. The owners play to the retro feel of the long-standing bar by incorporating a few “historic” items as decoration: grade-school style chairs, a television and VCR combo, and a creepy doll. The “good news” (which changes periodically) is listed on a piece of paper tacked to a corkboard; eventually, the news will be listed on a letterboard outside the restaurant.
Since Red’s opened in late November, it's have been operating with booze only — save for a snack shack in the back — while a menu is finalized. Currently, they’re featuring a long list of craft and domestic beers (most sold in cans), wine, and a full bar.
To the dismay of the neighborhood, Red’s opening has meant that Parker's has been closed for in-house service since the beginning of September. But the Parker family has promised the beloved breakfast spot is not disappearing completely; favorites from Parker's will play a big role on Red’s menu.
Though they may be sad at the loss of Parker's (for now), Brookline is welcoming Red’s with open arms. Brookline Boulevard boasts city staples like Pitaland and Las Palmas, but Red’s is bringing a new energy to the neighborhood, one “full of good brews, good friends, and good cheer.”