It was quite pleasant to be in the forthcoming East End Brewing Co. Mt. Lebanon taproom even in mid-February when it was a nearly empty white box.
And not just because owner Scott Smith brought a couple of beers from his Larimer brewery where he and his colleagues make them.
These were the first cans to be cracked here since he signed the lease for the space, in the North Parking Garage at 651 Washington Road. It’s in the heart of the business district where steps and an elevator lead to the T light rail station out back and about a story below.
“I want to sit here and watch the world go by,” mused Smith as he stood beside one of the big front windows through which the winter sunlight streamed.
His plan for this front corner included a folding door that can be opened to the set-back sidewalk space outside, where customers will be able to sit in nice weather.
As drawn up on renderings that he shared along with a Snow Melt beer, the interior will have room for about 100, with a bar on one side and tables throughout, including some in coves that can be closed off for private gatherings.
The decor looked modern and light, not stereotypical brewery barn wood and industrial Edison bulbs. There will be pops of color, including signature East End red on a half wall along the main walkway. “People can expect the hop lights over the bar,” he said, referring to the decor at the main brewery.
That’s where the beer served here will be made, though there may be a tap or two serving beers from guest breweries. Customers also will be able to order Pennsylvania wines and drinks made with Pennsylvania spirits, plus East End’s cider, hard seltzers and house brand Barmy sodas. “You may see some interesting things here you don’t see at the brewery,” he teased.
As at the main location, the menu will feature “East End Chewing” rustic pizzas of many flavors, with several vegetarian options plus “an ever-changing list of soups, sides and beer-friendly bar snacks,” he wrote in a February news release.
By the time you read this, he will know more details, and may even have held a pop-up event at the new location.
But plenty of people already know East End Brewing, which the home brewer quit his engineering job to start in 2004 in Homewood in the East End where he grew up. He moved shortly after that from Regent Square to Mt. Lebanon, where he lives with his wife, Julie, and children Ella and Otis, now on Longuevue Drive.
After moving the brewery to Larimer in 2012, Smith has been looking for satellite locations (East End had a bar in the Strip District for a time). Plans to open a taproom in the city of Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood stalled during the pandemic. He first looked at this Mt. Lebanon space in 2016 and almost six years later, the time and place were right.
“What we were looking for continued to evolve,” he said, noting how COVID, for instance, called for having some outdoor space. “We wanted neighborhood. We wanted foot traffic.”
Even in frigid February, it was easy to look out these big windows and see it.
Get up to date at www.eastendbrewing.com and on East End’s social channels.