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.