I’ve begun leaving empty beer bottles and a nearly drained fifth of Wild Turkey strewn upon my office desk.
I do this to perpetuate the myth I spend all my writing time in the Tin Lizzy all gooned up.
And that’s why I’m so wildly successful!
But more and more, strangers are wandering up to the third floor and I wouldn’t want them to think the Tin is hosting some stick-up-his-butt sober writer.
I like meeting the wandering strangers.
Just the other day I looked up and a guy, maybe about 45, was standing over my desk.
“Is there a bar in this building?” he asked. Took me about 10 seconds to realize he was serious.
I told him he’d labored up three floors, past three bars and a 6-pack shoppe, to find the only floor that didn’t serve hootch.
I stood up and pointed straight down. “There’s a great bar called ‘Flappers’ one floor below our feet."
Then I walked him across to the cornhole room, pointed and said, “Two floors below this room is the ground-level Main Street bar. And down near the 6-pack shoppe is a flight of stairs that leads to the basement Rathskeller that’s been there for, oh, gee, about 260 years.”
Remarkably, I did all this without sounding even a bit sarcastic. I was explicit in my directions because I knew if I saw him wandering again I’d feel compelled to take him by the hand and lead him to some alcoholic quenching.
I guess I’m happy for the guy that the Tin isn’t a 15-story building.
My friend Scott Levin of the Tin Lizzy Bistro asked me to write the following 1,000-word advertorial that is running in Laurel View Living Magazine. I was happy to oblige.
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The Tin Lizzy
Where the only things destined to outlast the building are the good time memories.
Your first thought when stepping through the varnished doors at the historic Tin Lizzy will probably be, “Man, this place must be really, really old.” The last thought when you depart many happy hours later will likely be, “Man, this place is really, really cool!”
And you’ll be right both times.
Experts have determined the building’s foundational elements date to clear back to the ‘50s.
The 1750’s, that is.
The vestiges of that epoch are evident in the buildings timbering, its fireplaces and and a lively aura known to attract everyone from ghostbusters to connoisseurs of charm and ambiance. And the only thing more enchanting than the Tin Lizzy’s past is its glorious future. A new team of executive chefs have become the perfect fit for a beloved building that manages to be both historic and hip.
Together with long-time owner Buck Pawlosky, the Tin Lizzy is welcoming guests who enjoy convivial atmosphere, great food and lively companionship in a town already renown for launching larger-than-life legends.
This is Youngstown, Pennsylvania, pop. 400. Turn right out of the Tin Lizzy and you’ll end up on Fred Rogers Way; turn left and you’ll be on Arnold Palmer Drive. Yes, that’s Mister Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer, both born and raised just down Main Street from the Tin.
“I like to think we offer something unique,” says Pawlosky. “We have three distinct taverns that give you the option of dining in seven different rooms and a seasonal balcony. I have people that live on the option-rich South Side who drive all the way from Pittsburgh to spend a night here. They say it’s just like the South Side, but at the Tin Lizzy all the fun’s under one roof.
“People come here in the summer to golf at Latrobe Country Club, enjoy the Westmoreland County Airshow or Steeler training camp at St. Vincent College. We have always enjoyed great word-of-mouth business and I’m sure that’ll only increase with Scott and his crew here.”
The enthusiasm is mutual.
“We’re thrilled to be here as part of the Tin Lizzy and all it means to the community,” says owner/chef Scott Levin. “This is a special place and we’re looking forward to bringing the kind of quality and affordable dining that’ll keep people coming back again and again.”
His commitment shows in that the Tin Lizzy Bistro is the second eatery he’s opened in Youngstown in just two years.
In 2015, he’d been eager to apply all he’d learned and experienced working for 20 years at the popular Bella Luna restaurant in Murrysville. He found opportunity in Youngstown in the building just up the street from the Tin Lizzy at the site of what for years was the landmark Mekic’s Market.
He opened the Youngstown Grille & Market and has been doing gangbuster business there ever since. But when the Tin Lizzy restaurant became available, Scott sensed opportunity. “People just fall in love with this building. It just felt like the perfect place to run a restaurant. It felt like home.”
The homeyness is evident in the Main Street ground floor bar where locals have long gathered beginning at 7 a.m. when the doors open Monday through Saturday. It’s the kind of place where in the summer someone’s always leaving a basket full of surplus garden vegetables and in the winter they’re right there ready with jumper cables for when you’re in a frozen fix.
Most of the patrons are locals. Sometimes they’re famous and come from as far as Hollywood. One of the regulars is famous and comes from less than a mile away.
In 2014, actors Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo were in the Laurel Highlands filming the award-winning “Foxcatcher” about homicidal billionaire John du Pont. They stayed at the Marriott SpringHill Suites just up the road and asked the front desk where they could get a good meal.
“Go to the Tin Lizzy,” they were told. “You’ll love it.”
So three Tinseltown A-listers were for at least one-week Tin regulars.
One true local who’s even more famous is even more regular.
Arnold Palmer and his family have been dining at the Tin Lizzy for years. In fact, Palmer is a second generation regular. In his 2000 autobiography, “A Golfer’s Life,” Palmer writes about the his father’s enduring affinity for the landmark hotel when it was Amer’s.
“He loved drinking ‘shots and beers’ with his buddies at the firehall or at Amer’s Hotel in Youngstown.”
It’s even rumored some of the regulars come from farther away than even Hollywood.
They come from the great beyond.
“Lots of people believe it’s haunted,” Pawlosky says. “I’ve never seen any evidence of anything spooky. But about once a year we get some group of paranormal detectives who ask for permission to investigate the place. I’m happy to let them have their fun. They take out a bunch of fancy equipment and start hunting for spirits, but sooner or later they wind up just ordering some food and a bunch of drinks.”
It’s what any sensible ghostbuster would do.
Besides the Main Street bar, there’s the wonderful Rathskellar, a true step back in time. This is where the bones of the old Tin Lizzy rattle loudest. Low timber rafters and bedrock fireplaces give warm ambiance, and the actual bar is about 50-feet of one-piece solid timber, all gnarly and varnished. Pawlosky tells about the day he and a squad of friends took out a window and spent the day painstakingly maneuvering the bar top into place.
The “new” part of the building — everything above the basement — dates back to the 1890s. The floors and hallways are wonderfully creaky, like an old carnival fun house.
The second floor bar (and adjacent balcony) is the wonderful Flappers, a 1920’s themed bar so elegantly appointed local advertisers use it to film commercials. It’s a martini bar tucked so discretely back into the building that wandering into it feels like discovering a secret speakeasy.
“In all my life,” Scott says, “I’ve never seen a building that’s a more perfect fit for the kind of fun dining my staff and I deliver daily at the Tin Lizzy.”
So go for the food. Go for the fun.
There may not be any ghosts in the Tin Lizzy, but it’s the kind of place anyone given to living will love to haunt.