Regent Square's Root 174 restaurant has a small nook reserved for a bar … even though patrons sometimes tell general manager Will Groves that it will never be used.
"Everybody thinks Edgewood is dry," he says.
Which isn't surprising. The neighborhood's Braddock Avenue business district straddles Edgewood and Swissvale, and as Groves point out, "You look across the street and it's bar-bar-bar. Over here it's BYO-BYO-BYO" -- restaurants with "bring your own bottle" policies.
That has bred the legend that the business district is shaped by the liquor regulations in each municipality.
Even experts say so. Legendary local historian Rick Sebak recently wrote in Pittsburgh magazine, "Bars are only on the Swissvale side of Braddock Avenue; across the street is Edgewood, and it's dry." And in a September review of nearby Cibo, City Paper restaurant reviewers Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth wrote that "The 'restaurant' side [of Braddock Avenue] is in Edgewood, which is dry."
It certainly sounds plausible; having restaurants on one side and bars on the other is, as Groves puts it, "an obvious visual divide."
But sometimes, there's less to a story than meets the eye.
"We have never been a dry borough. People have just never applied for a permit over there," says Edgewood borough manager Warren Cecconi.
In fact, according to Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board records, there are currently four liquor licenses in the borough of Edgewood, including Applebee's and the Reel Hollywood Bar & Grill.
Groves says the lack of liquor licenses in Edgewood reflects the challenges presented by state policy, rather than any local ordinance. It's expensive to buy a "clean" liquor license -- i.e. one without a tax lien from a closed bar. And while licenses can be transferred between municipalities, doing so requires the approval of both boroughs. Despite the rumors, Groves says, those administrative hassles are the reason Root 174's bar nook has yet to take root.
Says Groves, "There are people who practice law who just do this."