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Carol's Restaurant

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You can get there from here. Honest.

Because of construction in the West End Circle, businesses on nearby Main Street have been suffering. Detour signs lead you to believe that the West End's business district is closed and that only tumbleweeds remain.

Restaurant-owner Carol Carmichael, one of the friendliest proprietors you'll ever meet, chose her location because it's where she grew up. Little did she know her biggest hurdle would be heavy equipment.

Before the top-loaders moved in down the street earlier this year, business was steady. Her homemade breakfasts, bottomless cups of coffee and cheery personality pulled in customers for two years. Her lunchtime crowd was loyal.

"People are disgusted with the construction, so they're going to other places," she says. "But I'm still here and I'm not moving." Also staying put are the cranes. They'll be in place until 2010.

It's not that troublesome to get to Carol's. Yes, the signs are confusing and the traffic is annoying. But it's a tiny inconvenience compared to what you'll get once you sit down.

Her space -- an historical storefront with high ceilings -- is painted black and gold. But the Steelers décor is tempered with dozens of family snapshots and a series of photos from filmmaker Kevin Smith's recent visit with the cast and crew of Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Carol's offers a full menu -- from breakfast sandwiches on Texas toast to Reubens and prime-rib dinners. You won't find any precious dishes topped with melted Brie or drizzled with truffle oil. The food here is unfussy. You like crispy bacon and homemade gravy? This is the place. Carmichael also caters and will deliver for a $9 minimum.

"It's my coffeehouse," said Tom Jefferson, a former photojournalist and reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier. He operates an art gallery/studio next door that features local artists as well as his own work, and pops in several times a day. Together, he and Carmichael come up with ideas to battle the effects of the bulldozers.

For Halloween, Carmichael's hosting a party while Jefferson turns his studio, called The Sunroom, into a haunted house. (Jefferson has experience in building performance stages.) Carmichael will soon feature weekend BYOB jam sessions at her site.

So if you're a local musician hungry for a venue -- or just hungry -- stop on by. She'll be there.

 

410 S. Main St.
West End
412-921-2627

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