Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obituary of a Legendary Eatery: Johnny's Place

It is a sad week on North Craig Street in Oakland this week as Johnny's Place will be closing it's door for good at the end of the week. Johnny's Place has arguably the best sandwiches in all of Pittsburgh and I have yet to taste a sandwich outside of the city which compared either. Unfortunately, there will be no more delicious meals being served at 256 North Craig Street as Johnny and Karen are closing the door on their restaurant for the last time at the end of the week.

Johnny and Karen were restaurant owners who set the bar for food, service, and genuine friendliness. I made my last trip to Johnny's yesterday and I did not need a menu as I have tried everything on it at least once. I thought I would go full circle and order the first meal I ever ordered there, the Steak and Egg sandwich and Johnny's famous fries. Johnny even gave a dozen of his famous wings to us on the house. What more could you ask for? Although the food was fantastic, the mood was melancholy as everyone reminisced with Johnny about life and what the future holds. Johnny told me that he would have loved to stay open, but there were too many factors that forced him to shut down such as the economic downturn and people not eating out as much and the closures or moves of local business that supplied steady customers. I felt the worst when I said, "I guess everyone is making a farewell stop?" Johnny replied, "Yeah, it is too bad that if only everyone came in more often maybe I would not have to close, but everything happens for a reason and I am going to make the best of the situation. Just don't say good-bye because then we'll all be sad." It was this friendliness and honesty that made Johnny's Place more than just a restaurant.

Although, the building that housed Johnny's has been on the market for a while, Johnny and Karen are still not sure what their future holds. Will their recipes be sold? Will they open another restaurant in the South Hills where they reside? These are a few of many questions that they did not have answers to. One thing is for sure, Johnny and Karen will always be remembered by their patrons as friends and their food will always be the best. If they do decide to open a new store I am sure that people will drive the distance in order to say 'hello' to old friends and eat delicious food.

No one really wanted to walk out of Johnny's for the last time, but as we did we said good-bye, good luck, we all hoped to see each other in the future, and there was a tear in everyones eye.

Good luck Johnny and Karen, Johnny's Place will be missed, but never forgotten.


  1. R Korn said...

    It was a sad day when I stopped there on Tuesday for the last supper. It was kind of like a funeral, everyone paying there final respects to the place. I ordered the Rueben which is my favorite sandwich. I wish I could have had one last steak and egg, and tuna melt. I regret not trying more things on the menu but I couldn't pass up any of these three anytime I went in. The bonus wings that he gave us were a nice suprise. Maybe someday there will be another Johnny's somewhere else.

  2. It seems like so many of my favorite Pittsburgh spots are closing. Johnny's tops this list, a favorite for so many years. Some other recent closings that I am sad about are Fuddrucker's at the Waterfront and Firehouse in the Strip. I feel like this is a great time of change in Pittsburgh, with a lot of familiar hangouts closing. This news is sad news, but Pittsburgh is changing for the better. Pirates are winning, Pittsburgh is continually hosting Hollywood films that showcase the city to the entire world, and there will be some great new restaurants and bars that I am sure we will all come to love. Hopefully, Johnny's will rise again in a new location. Thanks Johnny and Karen!

  3. Evelyn and I tried wanted to try it once before closing, but, alas, we were too late. We showed up for lunch Friday and they were already closed. We'll now die without having ever known the tastes of Johnny's.

    Chris, didn't a new hamburger place open in Fuddruckers? Have you tried it?

    I hope this doesn't spell doom for Kopy's. At least I have my tshirt already.

  4. I did not get a chance to try the Fuddrucker's replacement on my recent trip. I did try a new place in the Shadyside/East Liberty area called Burger Bar. It was more of a trendy burger joint, but the burgers were good, and it had a really good atmosphere. Seems like it would be a fun happy hour spot. Plus, they have alcoholic milkshakes, something that Fuddrucker's did not. I would recommend the Burger Bar.

  5. I saw the Burger Bar when I was driving through that area, but didn't go in. I looked up the Fuddrucker's replacement. It's called Pittsburgh Burger Company. They have a pretty good looking menu, including bison, ostrich, elk and wild boar burgers. Here's their website:

  6. Nothing will ever beat Johnny's Place.. I feel like cutting my self right now.

  7. I love Johnny's Place best Wings I've ever tasted no other place can compare.

  8. Our favorite place to eat when we lived in North Oakland. We still talk about his sandwiches and the good times there. Johnny's Place will always be "Right up top" in our hearts.