Mt Lebanon Magazine

710 Washington Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

South Hills Used-To-Be’s

We all know that Pittsburghers like to give directions based on landmarks. We especially enjoy using old references to places that no longer exist. For example:

Typical direction giver: “To get to Primanti’s by The Galleria, you go down 19 towards town. Pass the bowling alley on the right. And you remember where the Ground Round was? They had good popcorn! It used to be on your left … go past that through the light. After the light you’ll be passing by the old BP.”

Typical direction recipient: “The BP? Are you talking about where Dunkin Donuts is now?”

Typical direction giver: “Yes. Right across from where the Roth Carpet used to be. There’s a Fresh Market there now.”

And the directions continue …

Thinking of this takes me back to all of the South Hills “Used-to-Be’s.” Time is a professional ninja … slipping by like phantom sand in a fine crystal hourglass. We don’t even realize how much has changed until we look back.

Let’s rewind to my high school years … 25 years ago. The time I’m mentally lodged in, pretending I’m not a middle aged-woman. (My daughter may disagree but I still think I’m pretty cool cruising the mall in my flannel shirt and ripped-up jeans.)

I spent my weekends going to Village Square Mall. One weekend, I scored a brilliant blue tie-dye shirt at that mall. (Is it bad that I still have that shirt?) Now I drive by and see Kohl’s, Burlington and Home Depot there. Back then, there was no need for a Home Depot. Busy Beaver was across from Sears at South Hills Village Mall; ready to sell whatever lumber someone needed for their weekend project.

Four teenagers stand outside Phar-Mor pharmacy.
My friend group outside Phar-Mor.

Walgreens wasn’t a destination at the time. Instead, people flocked to Phar-Mor and would shop around for random stuff regardless if they had a prescription to fill. That Phar-Mor was adjacent to what we now know as the Market District Giant Eagle.

I remember going there homecoming night with my party. We perused Phar-Mor’s aisles, giggling at the random trinkets displayed on the end caps. I scored a black-haired troll doll sporting a Penguins T-shirt there once. I haven’t seen that little troll guy since 1998. His plastic potbelly protruding from the shrunken tee always cracked me up.

That same night we ate at Houlihan’s for our fancy homecoming dinner. This was before the restaurant settled in at The Galleria. It was located where the Walgreens now resides on Fort Couch Road. I recall that we upgraded from Friday’s that night because Houlihan’s staff wore dark clothing instead of oversized pins tacked to red suspenders.

Bringing all these memories to the surface paints a smile on my face. To me, it’s as clear as when I was 16. These memories summon up vivid recollections of the sights, smells and feelings of those not-forgotten places.

I bet I’ve barely scratched the surface of what was vs. what is around here. I wonder what memories everyone has of when they’d frequent places in the South Hills. Did you buy a critter at the Woolworth’s in the mall? Was it following a quick meal in their diner? Who scored a fancy fur coat at the Gimbels back in the day? I’d love to hear of the other ‘once were’s’ you’ve experienced the South Hills, so please comment below!


  1. Author’s gravatar

    We got our first dog at Animal Crackers in Village Square. Every time I tell the story I have to preface it with “Do you remember when that was an indoor mall?” Some of your memories I’d forgotten (Houlihans, Roth Carpet), but I still miss the Ground Round! And do you remember when Olive Garden was Grisante’s? Time marches on and the only thing that stays the same is change.

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    Great story that should continue.

    I recall having a nice lunch at the Kaufmann’s South Hills Tic-Toc (where the Galleria is).

    And the ultimate in childhood entertainment – Bimbo’s for pizza and a pie in the face if it was your birthday. It was located where Primanti’s now is.

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    Horne’s uptown Mt. Lebanon, papa GoGo’s in the mall, Spencer’s, NRM

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    Dudt’s bakery where cvs now exists on Cochran Road .they had a terrific “Ice Box Cake “.that probably was mid 1970’s or Isaly’s on Beverly or uptown on Washington Rd across from Jos Horne department store which is now an optical business and A Pizza shop .

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    Before Houlihan’s was the Joshua Tree at one corner of Washington and Fort Couch and, long ago, was the MOO Shoppe where the CVS is now. Gammon’s was across the street where the banks are now (which was before they moved to the “lowlands” on McMurray Road, Gammon’s became The Shenandoah before it became Outback Steak House.) There used to be a Par 3, 9-hole golf course where the hotel is now; St. Thomas More was a small metal-clad church and, of course, across the street was the sheep grazing pasture of Gilfillan’s farm. The world as we knew it used to end at Fort Couch and Washington Roads.

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    Hills! Who could forget the smell of popcorn and hot dogs on the roller rack as you entered Hills Dept Store on the lower level of Village Square Mall (now Home Depot). Or Toys R Us. The ponds inside South Hills Village that homed ducks. Foodland where PetCo now resides on Ft Couch Road. The Potato Patch inside the mall….Telaropa inside the mall. So many “once were’s” with great memories to coincide. Great article, Cathy!

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    Buying candy at KK’s in Castle Shannon!

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      Yes!!!I’ve that memory. First boyfriend lived on Baldwin Street next to KK

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    Some things that are not there anymore:
    I remember having a milk shake at the Moo Shop at the corner of Fort Couch and Rt 19. They had a sign with a cow who had huge googly eyes.
    I also had dinner many times at the Joshua Tree where Walgreen’s is located today.
    My parents shopped at Foodland where the sport card store is today on Highland Rd.

    1. Author’s gravatar

      It’s your old neighbor Greg Smith.
      I was just thinking about the Moo Shop. Hope you are well. Glad we’re both alive!

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    I remember driving all the way out Route 19 towards Washington PA to have a special dinner at Red Bull Inn. I seemed so far away. It is not there anymore and traveling out to shop in Washington, PA, doesn’t seem that far anymore, either.

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    I moved into my house a stones throw away from all of these above mentioned places many years ago 1966. Yes I remember them well. South Hills Village was just finished being built. My kids would cut through the woods near the nursing home now to go to the village passing where Giant Eagle is now and coming up behind what what the old hotel. There was no Village Square as it is today. Oh what memories this article brought back and also made me realize how old I’m getting.

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      C’mon folks, lets crank it back a bit farther and remember the Hot Shoppe, located at ft couch and ft 19.(currently Walgreens). Back in the 60’s and 70’s, it was always a tossup to decide which one to eat at, either there or at the Moo Shop. Hot Shoppe featured Pappy’s fried chicken and boy was it good! Great times, great memories!

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        Oh boy. The Hot Shoppe. I remember it well. Loved their menu. They use to have a few along the turnpike test areas in late 60’s/early 70’s.
        Also there was a great Mexican place right in the same vicinity in early 80’s. Can’t recall the name. Great salsa @ chips. Do u recall?

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          Chi Chi’s… it was right next to the Washingtonian Apartments. I lived there and worked at Chi Chi’s.

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    There used to be a restaurant off of 19 before the Galleria, it was an old house I believe. Very fancy, does anyone remember the name?

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      The Living Room?

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    I think I know the tall guy on the right in the phar/more photo. I graduated st clair in ‘96. I think he was in my class. I used to get comix , video games nags and nudie mags at the news stand at station square. I also got a tie blue dyed shirt with a mushroom on it, from the hippie stand upstairs:) anyone remember the Rueben and pickle from Ernies at the mall?

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      Loved the Rubens at Ernie’s. I also loved the Pup A Go Go next door. Chargrilled burgers and dogs were amazing, prices were great, deli items at Ernie’s very good. I ate their s lot in late 70’s early 80’s, loved Ernie’s Esq on rte 19 in peters Twp. Actually worked there for a short time, so many good memories of many places around the south hills Does anyone know of any websites or blogs where people share such info?

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    Was there a baked potato spot to eat at in the food court ever & if so what was the name of it?

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    Does anyone remember name of restaurant/bar that was in South Hills Village. People threw their peanut shells on floor. Back in 70s. On a corner near entrance to mall.
    Thanks in advance

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      That was The Grog Shop. It was owned by Stouffers that had the restaurant upstairs across from WPnC bank

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    Does anyone remember what restaurants were in the building that the Olive Garden is now in? I think one was a Mexican restaurant and the other might have been Italian. I don[t think either one was a chain. A memory is such a terrible things to lose….Anyone that can remember, please respond

    1. Author’s gravatar

      Barry – I ended up here looking for the name of the Mexican restaurant. With some help from my family, we identified it as Casa Lupita.

      Some further Googling seems to confirm. Below is from an April 1987 page of the Pittsburgh Press (typos are from newspapers-dot-com OCR conversion). The address in the text is the address for where the Olive Garden is now.

      Sunday Brunch: An Unlimited Feast. Casa Lupila’s Sunday Brunch is an unlimited international buffet. It’s fresh fruits and juices, rich pastries, fluffy omelettes, delicate crepes and flaky waffles made to order and Mexican specialties like Chilaquilles. It’s all you can eat and anything you could want. Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come join us. Adults, $7.95.. Seniors 60 plus, $6.95. 5-12, $3.95. Under five, Free. Casa Lupita Mexican Restaurant Bar 6000 Oxford Drive, At the Village Square Mall, Bethel Park 835-4200

      P.S. Someone had the name of the Italian restaurant (Grisante’s) in one of the older comments on this article.

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    Hot Shoppes Jr. was also at Fort Couch and 19. I remember a fizzy orange drink there.

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    The Odd Chair Playhouse was wonderful. It was in the parking lot of the original South Hills Village. Then they expanded and knocked it down. Awesome kids playhouse.

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      Oh ya, I ate the Reuben at Ernies.

      And… I shopped at “A Shop Called East” near the bird cages at SHV.

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    Odd Chair was in the parking lot behind the Sheraton. Worked there the summer of my freshman year at BPHS . Saw Hair there! Nude scene and all!! LOL

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    I see a few people here around my age group here. No one has mentioned so many places I remember in SHV. What about Castro Convertibles, A Shop Called East, B & G’s Restaurant, Sun Drugs that also had a restaurant inside, Ernie’s Deli, Stouffer’s Restaurant, No Name, Misc., Maggie’s, Foxmoor, Baker’s Shoes, the first and best Lerner’s, Miller’s, Harvest House, Woolworth’s 5 & 10 and their restaurant? What about the talking parrot, Eric, that entertained everyone in the two-story bird cage in the center of the mall, and that huge oil lamp, also in the center? Then at the back behind Sear’s, the Giant Eagle and I think Kroger’s were located? I can go on and on and on.

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    I remember the two story bird cage and the hug oil lamp. When I was very young, I liked going over the
    bridge and throwing pennies in the water. Also, I loved where you could get pictures taken at the
    photography boat. My grandfather worked at a church and the church was given one of the old boats for the kids to play on. I played on it. When I was 8 or 9, my most favorite memory is my grandfather gave me money and I bought at Sears a blue 45 record case, The 45 records of Dancing Queen and Little Rich Girl. I did not even know the songs. Lol. I picked them out by the titles. I love both of the songs to this day. I loved going into Woolworths and explore. As a teenager, I loved Foxmoor, No Name, Baker’s Shoes, Lerners, Spencers. I remember Sun Drugs and Pharmor.

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    What was the name of the Japanese steakhouse over by Virginia manor in Greentree?

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      The Samurai

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    So glad I found this post and all these memories.
    Here are some I remember as I was reading through all those posted there.
    I remember Mitchell’s corner and the Living Room cocktail restaurant. Also the small but gear filled outdoor store that sold all kinds of outdoor stuff.
    In the mall I remember the hot dog and chargrilled burger place on the upper level between Sears & Hornes. What was its name.
    Also, on the lower level by the NRM there was an Asian gift shop with candles and all kinds of stuff you never knew you needed. I bought many Xmas gifts here for my sisters. What was the name.
    Attended many movies at Village Theatre when it was still one big screen and then later. Disney films, Beatles films, Lawrence of Arabia, etc, what a great theatre.
    I remember Village Square Mall when it was enclosed. The Pharmor by VSM was a revelation. So huge. We always joked it was called PharMor because you spent far more than you intended. I remember eating a Woolworth’s lunch counter with its great specials shopping for school clothes at Sears. With so many kids my Dad loved Sears. The smell of roasting nuts from the candy counter. I remember the old Steak & Ale and ChiChi’s as you headed down Wash Rd toward Kaufmanns/Galleria. What was the Mexican restaurant tucked next to the old Sheraton hotel called. It was behind edge of Vilage Sq Mall.
    I loved Gimbels. One of my sisters worked there and would get me her discoun. Bought Levi’s, sport shirts, sweaters etc from there. There was a barber on the lower level of mall near Gimbels where I would get haircuts. Also s great ice cream shop. Behind the mall in a strip was an A&P that my dad loved shopping at. Also there was a store there, the Village News, where you could get magazines, newspapers, candy and other stuff. Loved going there, There was one of the first video game arcades I ever went to located by the entrance of mall upstairs near hornes. It far from the Sears auto Ctr. I loved the arcade. Learned to play pinball & early video games there. I remember getting my first real “pro” camera at the Ritz camera store in the mall. A Nikon. If anyone knows any of the answers to any of my questions or have any memories you’d like to share email me.

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    Just a time shot that some of you here will remember! In the late 70’s I worked at Radio Shack in the Horne’s court. It was the winter of ’78 with all the blizzards. It was Christmas time and we were packed. Shoppers shoulder to shoulder! I guy comes in the front of the store (Totally open end) and sees a friend towards the back of the store. The conversation went like this:

    Bob: Hey Tom!
    Tom: Hey Bob!
    Bob: Tom, did you hear what the weatherman just said?

    At that instant the entire store became a scene out of an old E.F. Hutton commercial. Everyone stopped talking and just froze in place. You could see heads tilt slightly to lock in to what the two were about to say.

    Tom: What did he say?

    Bob: There’s a huge storm on the way and it’s supposed to be her in about an hour or so!

    At that instant, EVERY customer put down what ever they were looking at and left immediately! Customers finished their purchases and took off! In about three minutes the only ones left in the store were us employees!

    That was a time to remember!

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    Remember This End Up @ Village Sq? Parents bought me pine family room furniture there in mid-80’s.
    Village Sq also had a Thrift Drug that featured a JC Penney catalog service.

    In the 60’s, Mom bought my Catholic school mandatory white dress shirts @ SHV Sears & Roebuck (instead of her driving to Northside Sears–yes, Mom drove). We stopped @ the MOOO for the best milkshakes (unless we had a quick bite @ Woolworths’s counter–remember the metal electric in/out gate?)

    Dad loved “special dinners” at Red Lobster near Abbeyville Rd (before traffic signal installed–YIKES).

    Agree that Dudt’s Bakery (Cochran, near Cedar Blvd) was THE place for milestone cakes in our family.

    Reminiscence is so therapeutic…

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    Pasta Too, the little spaghetti joint which was easier to take out than eat in as there was only about 6 small tables(could be wrong on the number getting old ) before they moved into the former Eat n Park (again could be wrong,,) near South Park’s Entrance at 88 and South Park rd. Food still good but ambience not the same…

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    Chi Chi’s… it was right next to the Washingtonian Apartments. I lived there and worked at Chi Chi’s.

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