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Elbow Room Closing After One Final Party

Landmark 67-year-old restaurant has struggled in aftermath of COVID, closures

By Yousuf Lachhab Ibrahim
The Tube City Almanac
February 10, 2024
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The sun will set permanently on a McKeesport landmark this weekend with one final party at The Elbow Room.

After opening for limited hours for several months, the beloved 10th Ward restaurant and bar announced via Facebook this week that it is closing for good Sunday.

A farewell event will begin at 3 p.m. and continue “until the last person leaves,” according to the post.

Calls and messages to the Elbow Room were not returned as of presstime.

Founded in 1957 by John “Jack” Brusick, the Elbow Room has been renowned for low-priced drinks, homestyle cooking and square pizzas, which according to Brusick’s 2016 obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, are “so popular they have been shipped to customers as far away as Florida and California.”

Upon his death, “Elbow Jack” willed the restaurant to his bar and wait staff, who have kept the restaurant open ever since.

In a reply to a comment underneath one of their Facebook posts, the restaurant cites the economy being unkind towards small businesses as a reason for closing down.

Located at the corner of West Fifth Avenue and Rebecca Street, the Elbow Room strugged during the 2020 COVID lockdown, according to published reports. One year later, after a disastrous fire across the street that resulted in firefighting chemicals getting sucked into the 10th Ward drinking water supply, the restaurant was again forced to close for several weeks.

The restaurant has been closed this week and will not reopen before its final day.

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The restaurant has been a popular meeting place for, among other people, McKeesport government officials.

According to a 2007 article by Eric Slagle for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former McKeesport mayors Joseph Bendel, Wayne Kucich, and current state Sen. Jim Brewster all frequented the restaurant, as have current mayor Michael Cherepko and members of city council.

The restaurant has also been a set for a movie, with the 2020 film “I’m Your Woman” starring Rachel Brosnahan using the location to stand in for a neighborhood diner.

Yousuf Lachhab Ibrahim is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh and a recent Penn State University graduate. He won a Golden Quill award for his work at the Penn State Greater Allegheny Gazette. Editor Jason Togyer contributed to this story.

Originally published February 10, 2024.

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