James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy
has opened in Deutschtown, evoking the spirit of a former Pittsburgh jazz hangout, while offering an updated menu of food and drinks.
Located at the intersection of Foreland and James Streets (just north of East Ohio Street), the large building was originally built for the Perry Homestead Loan and Trust Company in the 1800's. More recently, the Classical Revival-style structure has been home to a string of neighborhood restaurants and other quirky uses.
The first floor restaurant space, while repaired and renovated, appears much like it might have in years past: exposed brick, a handsome, dark-wood bar, and wooden booths. Autographed musician photographs line one wall, mementos inherited from the former jazz club once located here, the James Street Tavern.
The James Street Tavern was a beloved local venue and restaurant, serving Louisiana-style cuisine. Co-owners Adam Johnston and Lisa Saftner say when local musicians heard that “James Street” was back, they were overwhelmed with enthusiasm and support.
“I had no idea that there was such a huge jazz community in Pittsburgh,” Saftner says.
James Street is already booked with jazz and blues three nights a week (Friday through Sunday) through May.
Performances are held in the "speakeasy" basement level, where bands take the stage in an intimate setting, at arm’s length from seated patrons. Scheduled performers include the Boilermaker Jazz Band, Roger Humphries Quintet, and the Etta Cox & Al Dowe Band.
The Pittsburgh Jazz Society has also relocated their weekly Sunday Night Jazz series to the speakeasy. On January 15th, the Kevin Howard Quartet will take the stage at 6 p.m.
Johnston says the menu at James Street was designed to be as eclectic as this Northside neighborhood. That means everything wings and burgers, to Cajun oysters, short ribs, and chicken fried steak. There’s also plenty of appetizers and small-plates to chose from, for sharing with friends during a set of live jazz.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Lisa Saftner, Adam Johnston