6 long-time Larenceville businesses that have survived and thrived

Melantie Linn Gutowski – nextpittsburgh.com – May 10, 2017

There’s a lot of past in the present of Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville, and the two haven’t always commingled peacefully. With a burgeoning spate of new restaurants and shops bringing national attention to the Butler Street corridor, and neighborhood real estate development at an all-time high since the 19th century, it’s easy to forget what made one of the city’s hottest areas so desirable in the first place. The faith of long-time residents, community leaders and local business owners made this happenin’ place really happen.

These establishments are a link between the old Lawrenceville and its rebirth as a bustling and popular area. Here are six businesses that have not only survived but thrived through it all.

Nied’s Hotel
5483 Butler Street

Many of the businesses in Lawrenceville had an influence on its resurgence simply by staying when others were leaving. But not many can say they had as direct an impact on the course of the neighborhood as Jim Nied. He’s the fourth generation of a family who has always owned taverns, going back to his great-grandfather in Homestead. Nied’s grandfather, Ted, opened Nied’s Hotel in 1941.

Yes, Nied’s Hotel really is a hotel. “I call it a rooming house,” Nied says. “We have a hotel liquor license and can rent rooms by the day or week, but we’ve never let it out as a regular hotel.” The upper floors of the building are occupied by several long-term tenants, Nied included.

Nied says he watched the neighborhood’s transformation “from the driver’s seat” by accident: He became involved with various community organizations in the late 1990s when a vacant parcel next to his bar was being redeveloped into a shopping plaza. “I was only supposed to be going to meetings to talk about parking, but I wound up more involved,” he says. “Nothing would have happened in the neighborhood without Children’s Hospital, National Robotics Council and other big businesses,” he says. “When you put 3,000 living wage jobs in a neighborhood, it’s bound to come back.”

Nied’s is renowned for its fish sandwiches and live entertainment, including its namesake, the Nied’s Hotel Band. In warmer weather, bands play free live concerts on a stage outside the bar, a practice Nied plans to continue, though he’s not afraid to embrace new ideas for entertainment, a recent one being “bluegrass meets bellydancing” with country and Middle Eastern music.

Nied credits his own business success to a tried and true fact: “We’re not hip and happening,” he laughs. “I don’t see anything changing.” Though self-deprecating, Nied has been embraced by the newer neighborhood watering holes. He recently was a guest bartender at Spirit as part of a community garden space fundraiser.

Read the full article here.