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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

PaPa J's Centro Still Rocking Boulevard of the Allies

July 6, 2010
Posted By - Lauren
Source Credits - talent network, inc., PaPa J's Centro


I have always been a big fan of downtown Pittsburgh. Ever since I was little, I always loved being in the middle of everything, during the summer and holidays, Light Up Night especially being my favorite night of the year to be in the city. When I was in college, we used to go to PaPa J's Centro for lunch and happy hour after class and it was always such an interesting place to visit. The wait staff had stories of the building that had us coming back for more great food, and more stories. Six years later, it's still there and better than I remember! I got a chance to catch up with PaPa J's Bar Manager, Jeffrey Holt, and get more inside information, as well as, learn about their new entertainment schedule that has more and more people visiting almost every week night now.

Jeffrey Holt, Bar Manager, PaPa J's Centro

talent network: How long has PaPa J’s Centro been around for? 
PaPa J's Centro: There are currently two PaPa J's locations, one is in Carnegie and has been there 24+ years, it is more of a traditional Fine Dining Italian Restaurant and does not do any entertainment. The one I work at is PaPa J's Centro and has been in existence for 16+ years.

Old-style lighting on the bar

talent network: Tell us about the music shows you’ve been hosting – how often do you have them? Are they all local acts?
PaPa J's Centro: We do entertainment 4 days a week; Tuesday is a Comedy Open Mic Night Hosted by TJ Amick at 9 PM, Wednesday we do an Acoustic Music Open Stage at 9 PM and that is Hosted by Anthony Jardine. Friday and Saturday Nights we generally do local live Music starting at 9:30 PM. The acts are generally in the classic rock and blues genres, with the exception being a comedy show on July 9th featuring Gene Collier of the Post-Gazette with his son Sean Collier opening.

A packed PaPa J's for one of their shows

talent network: How important is it to you to keep a downtown venue open past the traditional “5pm” closing time?
PaPa J's Centro: I have worked very hard at keeping our downtown location open past 5 PM, the Happy Hour's (Mon - Sat 5 - 7 PM) are coming along nicely as we offer $1 off all cocktails, beers and wines by the glass, and we have a pretty extensive list of Specialty Martini's which are on special for only $6 for Happy Hour. We offer half priced Fresh Fried Zucchini small (6 pieces) or large (12 pieces) for Happy Hour. Our zucchini is a fresh product, never frozen, sliced thin, lightly battered and fresh fried served with our world class housemade marinara. With the entertainment I have made us a destination spot 4 nights out of the 6 days we are open. I realized there were not that many people living down here or traveling to this side of town so with the entertainment I have been actually getting people to travel in to "The Big City" and as we own the open air lot just to the right of us on the corner of Blvd of the Allies and Market Street we can offer free parking to our guests after 7 PM.

Dolly's Dining Room (second floor)

talent network: I’ve heard rumors it was a brothel back in the day...is that true? 
PaPa J's Centro: Yes, it did operate as a Brothel from 1860 - 1937. As far as PaPa J's Centro, there is a lot lore as to the place being haunted. I feel some people are more keen to it than others. There have been 3 murders that we know of here, taking place during the Brothel Years, with a lot of interest around the upstairs ladies room which was one of "the action rooms" back in the day. Others believe that we were part of the underground railroad, with tunnels going to the river and also under the Boulevard of the Allies. The back bar piece was once the Madame's headboard and the Regulator clock stuck on 6:05 is probably the oldest thing in the building.

Plaque on the bar

The Madame's headboard, now the backdrop for the bar. (Notice the leg lamp lights)

Red Light still at the bottom of the stair case

The Madame's Room is now one of their four dining rooms

Keeping with the 'brothel' theme! haha

talent network: Tell us some more inside information on PaPa J’s! (whatever you’d like us to know!)
PaPa J's Centro: With more and more condo's opening we are actually seeing some people that live downtown frequenting our restaurant and are hoping that they help spread the word to the new people moving in. I have held a couple of meet n' greets with the different condo's welcoming people to the area.

Our Head Chef spent ten years cooking at the Carnegie location so the food is identical at both locations. Some of the people moving downtown used to frequent the Carnegie location often and now are calling PaPa J's Centro home and can attest to the food being just as good!

Outside dining terrace on the second floor.

The recently renovated deck is an oasis in the concrete jungle know as downtown, complete with Wisteria vine, basil & mint for all to enjoy.? The most magical time enjoy a meal on the deck is at twilight as the Christmas lights glow almost as bight as the stars as the sun sets. We wrap all of this up and more into a neat package called 212 Boulevard of the Allies formerly known as 80 Second Ave as our stained glass transom above the front door depicts.


Signature Red Wine Sangria

My friends and I had a great time sitting with Jeff and hearing stories about the building, the entertainment, and the supposed spirits that still live there, all while sipping on their awesome Red Wine Sangria and feasting on some of their amazing dishes. If you have never gotten a chance to check out this downtown staple, you must add it to your list of places to see, dine, and check out a live show at. I know my friends and I will be back very soon!

Related Stories:
  • Comics Sean and Gene Collier's Interview with 'talent network news' (link)
  • talent network news presents Artist of the Week - Gene Collier (link)
  • PaPa J's Centro Still Rocking Boulevard of the Allies (link)

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