Gastropub and rear garage and rye bar Bitter End in Etna
This summer, you can park your butt at the Rear End Gastropub & Garage and take your taste buds on a road trip.
Located in a former 1940s gas station, the restaurant at 399 Butler St. in Etna will open during the first week of July.
Decades ago, before the interstate highway system was built, families piled into their cars and drove scenic roads that meandered through small towns from coast to coast. Each stop was an opportunity to discover regional culture and cuisine.
This is the inspiration that drives the Rear End: a gastronomic journey through America.
Etna-based developer Mike Rios, who opens the square with his father Joe Rios and business partner Maria Paterra, says the menu will be refreshed quarterly, offering creative but accessible roadside food.
Chef Anthony Tripi will use burgers and sandwiches as blank linens, adding a myriad of fresh ingredients to reflect different traditions from across the country. The restaurant will host events, such as crayfish boils, whenever the menu changes.
Given the building’s history, the restaurant will have an automotive aesthetic, including car parts integrated into the decor and nine garage doors that open onto dog-friendly patios. Rear End also has its own parking lot.
The bar will have 20 taps; one will be for Rear End house beer, Dented Fender Kolsch made by North Country Brewing Co. of Slippery Rock, while two “traveling taps” will showcase breweries from regions on the food menu.
The cocktail program will focus on mezcal, an agave-based liqueur that has a smokier flavor than tequila. The space will include seating for 15 customers at the bar as well as several high tables. A small foyer separates the original building from the newly constructed 3,000-square-foot full-service dining room, which will seat approximately 100 people.
For even more nostalgic fare, people can hop off at 409 Butler St. and visit the Bitter End Rye & Charcuterie Bar, which the Rios family is opening with their business partner Keith Svitek.
At the end of December, they began gutting the old Nooch’s Bar, which has served alcohol since Prohibition ended in 1933. The contemporary speakeasy will specialize in charcuterie boards and rye and gin cocktails. Lucky Sign Spirits in Millvale makes the bitter ones. It is expected to open eight to ten weeks after Rear End begins serving customers.
David Hood, chief operating officer for both companies, said the entire facade of the Bitter End building will change, but that they are trying to preserve elements of the structure’s past. The terrazzo floor is still intact and a vintage ice-block draft beer cooler will be reused. After removing the drywall, the teams discovered a mural painted in the 1920s advertising Cruikshank Brothers ketchup. They hope to preserve it or hire a local artist to recreate it.
The group also owns the old bank building next to Rear End and plans to open a restaurant in the space by 2023.
Etna, a borough located just four miles from downtown Pittsburgh, is emerging as a foodie destination. Wild Child, chef Jamilka Borge’s seafood concept, will soon open at 372 Butler St.
“We are rooted in Etna,” Hood says. “It’s an opportunity to make an impact in the community and it’s something we take very seriously.”