Birth anniversaries tomorrow include Al Capp (1909), boxer Max Schmeling (1905), Ed Sullivan (1901) and the organizer of the first free kindergarten Kate Wiggin (1856).  This weekend is the Mt Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival, home of glass still made for Tiffany glass products.  Tomorrow is Cabrillo Day, the founding of California (1542) and the first night football game (1892)

Some drunk tried to steal RJ!  I was weeding in the back of the parking lot (by the Ballroom) and RJ was sniffing and snorting around the parking lot.  I had an eye on him.  This fairly inebriated man comes up the sidewalk from down by Shamrock and half way across the sidewalk in front of my parking lot he spys RJ and enters my parking lot and calls him.  As always, someone to play with, RJ bounces over.  I’m now watching closer.  He’s petting and fussing with RJ and then he straddles him and is playing with RJ’s choker.  I think he’s assuming RJ’s a stray and was looking for contact info.  Next thing, he walks out of the parking lot and goes around the corner.  I clicked my fingers to get RJ’s attention and then hand signaled for RJ to come to me.  RJ comes trotting back to me and I hear the drunk say “Come here puppy”,  “puppy come here”.  He’s not a good Samaritan, he’s a dog thief.  I go stomping down the parking lot fuming, and he’s at the passenger door of his car parked right around the corner in the first parking spot before my lot.  He was going to call RJ and get him to jump in his car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you’ve not sure if you’ve ever seen me angry, trust me if your not sure, you haven’t seen me angry.  It pours out of every pore of my body.  He puts his hands up and stammers “Don’t worry, I like animals”.  I won’t repeat what I said in case some children are reading this, suffice it to say, he left quickly.  I got his description, the car’s description and the license number.  I called it in to the police, but never heard anything.

The group of people trying to turn the old Denis Theater (opened in 1938) into a community theater and event center just got an anonymous $100,000 donation.  The donor also offered another $100,000 if the non-profit can raise the $200,000 they have set as a goal by February.  They are encouraging donors to take advantage of the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Day of Giving to capitalize on the added donation the the Pittsburgh Foundation supplies on it’s yearly event on October 3.

Old Economy Village is having their yearly Erntefest, the traditional German harvest festival that shows how 19th century Western Pa communities prepared for winter.  Activities will include broom making, wine making, meat smoking, coopering and beekeeping.  For the kids they’ve included playing with the fire pumper, walking on stilts, sack races and rolling hoops.  Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for kids, tots are free and it runs this Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm.  More info at their web site or by calling 724266.4500.

Why do the newscasters ALWAYS say something happened in “Myanmar, sometimes called Burma” and when talking about the new oil and gas extraction method they ALWAYS say “Hydrolic Fracturing, also known as Fracking”.  Do they think we forgot that we’ve heard these words for years now?  🙂

Here’s an idea for you, why not dining on the tracks?  We have a number of restaurants in old train stations.  The grand dame everyone knows is The Grand Concourse in Station Square.  That’s the old P & L E railroad station built in 1901 for Joshua Rhodes’ railroad (the guy that built my Inn-and I cooked in the Concourse- in the 1990’s-kind of scary, huh?).  Chuck Muer converted it into one of the best seafood dominated restaurants in 1978.  It has since be bought by the Landry group.  In Wilmerding, there’s the Station Brake Cafe.  This cafe, opened in 1986, has retained much of the old architecturals.  The menu strives for local and organic products, much of the vegetables they grow themselves.  Out in Latrobe is DiSalvo’s Station Restaurant.  This restaurant was converted from an Amtrak train station 1989 into an Italian restaurant.  The atrium has an Italian feel to it with cobble stones, a limestone fountain and lots of plants.  On the weekend you can book exclusive dining in the 1901 refurbished train car called Prima Classe, reservations only.  While out east, there’s Greensburg’s Supper Club.  This two year old restaurant shares space with other tenants in this station built in 1910 for the Pennsylvania railroad.  They try to use as much sustainable foods as possible in this American style menu and is near Seton Hill University.  Finally, over in Tarentum is JG’S Tarentum Station.   The station was originally built for the Norfolk Southern railway originally in 1870, torn down and rebuilt around 1914.  The restaurant has had various owners and personalities since first opening in 1984.  The current owner, John Greco (hence JG in the name 🙂 ), has a casual/fine dining theme.

Saturday, Canonsburg is having a unique dinner experience. Their Dine in the Pool (yes, you got that right, in the pool) is a fund raiser.  Tickets are $40 and $75 for two and they are raising money to replace the liner in this pool built in 1935 (the liner was last replaced 15 years ago).  It may be sold out at this point, last I heard they had sold 100 tickets.  The ticket includes valet parking, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dancing from 5 until 9 pm.  More info at 724.745.1800.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park is growing by almost an acre due to the city of Aspinwall leasing them an old parking lot for $1 for 99 years.  This parcel opens up the area so this fledgling reclamation of water front can proceed.

I had a call from Captain Joe with the Gateway Clipper fleet today.  He invited me to join their concierge service, I love people in business that don’t wait for new customers to fall out of the sky.  I support all local business around here (as long as they do a good job).  🙂  In particular, when a guest checks in to The Parador Inn, after all the formalities of registration, breakfast times, etc I always ask “Are you all set, or do you need directions or recommendations.”  Always.  Tip for you travelers, even if you have your trip all planned out and the Innkeeper offers tips, take advantage of it.  You don’t have to act on any suggests we give, but having options is always a good thing.  And even if you’ve done all your home work, the Innkeeper might know something new, close, temporary that might peak your interest.  Why am I belaboring this point when I was talking about the Gateway Clipper.  You know, when someone stays in my Inn, 90 some % of the time, they are looking for things to do, restaurants to eat.  Two things, point one is when I first opened, I would go around to local restaurants I recommend and get copies of their menus.  After suggesting that the restaurants should take over this task and drop menus off instead of me soliciting business for them AND doing the ground work of getting the menus, I quit.  I still recommend the restaurants, but don’t carry menus.  If I owned a restaurant, I would be pounding the pavement to get my menus out.  I would make a deal with all Innkeepers that if the Innkeeper made the reservation, the guests would get a free glass of wine, dessert, something to make them feel special.  As a business person hustling my brochures where ever I can, it drives me nuts that they don’t even distribute their menus locally.  Point two is when I opened, I never recommended the Gateway Clipper fleet.  I haven’t been on one since John Connoly (sp?) owned that and the Sheraton.  Insolent staff and mediocre food is the best I could say about them.  Things change, Innkeepers add and subtract from our list.  Two years ago, when two guests checked in and I asked them if they needed directions or recommendations, they said “No, we’re going on the Majestic for a dinner cruise”.  You never tell a guest they made a poor choice, so I just said OK.  The next morning when I asked about food and server, they were quite upbeat about it.  I have since had a number of guests patronize the Clippers with similar responses.  I’ve been recommending the Clippers since.  What I like about Captain Joe is #1 he called me and introduced himself.  #2 He requested that I participate in their concierge program.  #4 He’s dropping his menus off (well actually brochures).  #5 He’s requested a meeting to see how we can both work together for mutual promotion.  Since opening up here, I’ve had restaurants mail me menus requesting that I put them out for guests.  I’ve never eaten in that restaurant, don’t know anything about it, never had an introductory phone call, offer for a free meal (or even discount) to see if they are worthy of my effort and reputation.  That’s pretty nervy, in my opinion.  I had an Innkeeper that wasn’t even in town yet, opening an Inn and asking me to refer guests to her.  This is my reputation on the line.  I just don’t recommend anyone.  OK, I’m done.  🙂

Saturday is my last wedding.  Kate & Jordan seem to have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  I’m amazingly prepped for this and look forward to my last wedding being another tremendous success,


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