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Hanlon's Café

An Uptown diner institution stakes out new territory Downtown

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Uptown's culinary loss is Downtown's gain, thanks to the relocation of Hanlon's Café. 

Earlier this year, owner Bob Hanlon moved his 15-year-old restaurant and catering business, formerly housed in a Mercy Hospital medical building, to Downtown after a year-long legal battle with his landlord, UPMC. 

"My lawyer bill was getting huge," says Hanlon, who settled with UPMC in December. "It was definitely time to move on."

Hanlon relocated his restaurant to the spot that previously housed the Steel City Diner and Big Mama's House of Southern Cuisine. The traditional-style diner, filled with red-backed booths, officially opened at its new location in early February.

"It's a decent change," says Hanlon, relieved that the headaches from the legal fight are over.

But that doesn't mean it's been easy. Over the years, Hanlon's developed a strong following in Uptown, thanks largely to its proximity to UPMC Mercy and Duquesne University. (Fun fact: Hanlon's was the first Pittsburgh restaurant I ever visited when I toured Duquesne University eight years ago.)

Because of all the competition Downtown, Hanlon says it's taking time to build the restaurant business. But the catering business is thriving. "That's been bailing us out," he says. 

It nay be just a matter of time, however, before business inside the restaurant catches up. After all, there aren't many places Downtown (or anywhere) where you can enjoy a delicious, hearty breakfast of two eggs, your choice of meat and potatoes, as well as pancakes or French toast for just $4.99.  961 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-394-3500

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