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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

#5283 - Korner Tavern, North Huntingdon, PA - 7/17/23

Korner Tavern, Hahntown, PA

Technically in the township of North Huntingdon, the Korner Tavern is located on a corner in the unincorporated old mining community of Hahntown, and lists itself in Irwin. In fact the building is said to have originally been the company store of the Westmoreland Coal Company -- although some have disputed whether that mining operation actually included a company store at all. In any case, it served the mining community for many years -- then run by Stanley Brevic and known as "Stanley's Tavern" -- including hosting meetings of United Mine Workers Local 6080 in the basement.

Linda Pilipovich, Korner Tavern
Hahntown (Irwin), PA
In 1962 the tavern was purchased by Victor and Helen Pilipovich and renamed the Korner Tavern (reasons for the "K" are unclear). It has remained in the family ever since then. When Victor and Helen split, Helen bought him out and operated the bar herself until she was 91,  passing away in Sept 2019. The business is now run by Helen's son Victor Jr. (AKA "Butch"), and his wife Linda. Linda was not involved with the bar in the early years, but a few years ago, when they needed to replace an employee, Linda decided to give it a shot, even though she'd retired twice. She now works the earlier part of the days and says she enjoys it much more than any of her previous office jobs.

Korner Tavern, Hahntown, PA
Anthony and Derek

Another change Linda made late in life was to start distance running at the age of 62. On July 4th of this year she ran her 200th race, and Butch said they should put her medals up in the bar. I was fortunate enough to first visit the bar while Linda was working, and explaining the medals now hanging behind the bar to a couple other first time visitors. There are now 217 of them, including one from a triathalon and two from ultra marathons.

When I asked about the portrait above the bar, she informed me that that was Helen, and added that she had been a great mother-in-law and when she was behind the bar the patrons knew she meant business, and were not about to get out of hand.

Korner Tavern, Hahntown, PA
Portrait of previous owner Helen Pilipovich

In addition to a very pleasant chat with Linda, I also exchanged notes with the other two first-timers, Anthony and Derek, and exchanged bar stories.

Butch is said to be an excellent cook, and I am looking forward to returning, hoping to try the food and/or visit on a Friday or Saturday night to see what it's like when it's really hopping.

Old photo of Korner Tavern
Date and source unknown
HAHNTOWN by Raymond Anthony Washlaski

Miners from Adams Mine 
Norwin Historical Society
Via HAHNTOWN by Raymond Anthony Washlaski

339 Main St, Irwin, PA 15642
Est. June 5, 1962 - Building constructed: 1900
Previous bars in this location: Stanley's Tavern
Web site: facebook 
Reviews: triblive - yelp - norwinhistoricalsociety - Hahntown: Peen Gas No. 2 Mine

#5284 - Safari Club, Duquesne, PA - 7/17/23

The Safari Club, Duquesne, PA

The city of Duquesne, hugging the south side of the Monongahela River just southeast of Pittsburgh, is an archetypal declining old steel town. From it's heyday in the 30s and 40s, when Carnegie Steel operated "Dorothy Six," the largest blast furnace in the world, and employed more residents than they entire city population today, the population has been declining ever since, leaving crumbling buildings and pothole filled roads. The health of the community faded along with the infrastructure, with over a third of the residents below the poverty line, the worst performing schools in the state, one of the highest crime rates in America, and inclusion on the Financially Distressed Municipality list.  (wikipedia, neighborhoodscout

The Safari Club, Duquesne, PA

Thus the bars here tend to be few and far between, inconsistent in their operation, and with very spotty data on the internet and social media -- e.g. on the day I visited a bar here it was listed in Yelp as permanently Closed -- although the facebook site is updated regularly. But the bars that survive can carve out intimate and pleasant spaces, amidst the crumbling surroundings, and this is the case with the Safari Club, on the ground floor of a 3 to 4 story old building, with broken windows, faded plywood over upper doors, and the brick walls in back appearing to crumble. But inside the Safari is a cozy neighborhood dive bar space.

True to it's name, the Safari contains a good number of African artifacts and jungle-themed decor. But like many true dives, the theme varies widely. Above the bar are three taxidermy buck heads, two quite professionally done surrounding one that appears older and executed by someone just starting to learn the craft. Opposite the pool table is a selection of photos of old school jazz and rock stars. The bartender and manager Quanda tells me her uncle owns the bar and the taxidermy, and she guessed it had been here for about 23 years, with no idea what was here before it. The efforts to maintain a friendly, safe environment are more evident than usual, including a large fluorescent green 86 list and requirement that you must be at least 30 years-old to enter.

Altogether it creates a welcoming getaway from the heat and humidity, as well as the other struggles outside. The drinks are typical dive bar spirits and canned beers, and the food fairly standard pub fare (wings, burgers, fish sandwiches, etc.). Events include Bar Bingo nights, karaoke, and the occasional live band. It's the sort of unique neighborhood joint that I might put on my highest favorites list -- perhaps after checking out what it's like on a Friday or Saturday night.

708 Grant Ave, Duquesne, PA 15110 - 

Friday, July 14, 2023

#5277 - K and M Pub, Pittsburgh, PA - 7/14/23

K&M Pub, Pittsburgh, PA

The K&M Pub is a classic old neighborhood joint where the bartenders know every customer. Once inside I was very pleasantly surprised to find an original pressed tin ceiling and antique back bar. County tax records only fill in the story from 1963, when Gerald and Anita Garner bought the place, but it's plainly much older than that. The Garners appear to have sold it to the current owners in 1999, but the old "Garner's Tavern" ghost sign is still more prominent than the tiny "K&M" at the front door. 

Mike the bartender says it goes back "about a hundred years," and it appears to have been built in 1924, so he was pretty much on the money (though of course it could not have been a licensed bar until 1933 at the earliest). Still a lot of research to do on this area.

200 Mt Oliver St, Pittsburgh, PA 15210 - (412) 488-6241
Est. 1999? - Building constructed: 1924
Previous bars in this location: Garner's Tavern
Web site: facebook 
Reviews: yelp