A Hidden Castle Shannon Treasure
So whose bar is it?
It’s a fair question, given that the bar that has stood at 3841 Willow Avenue for more than 60 years, in a building that’s over 100 years old, has undergone some changes in ownership in recent times.
Owned by Else Franzmann, Someone Else’s Bar was better known as Weiland’s for 20 years until 2005. Then it became Mark’s Willow Inn, which closed in 2008. After months of trying to convince Mark to give it another go, Else re-opened the bar in October of 2009, bringing back some menu staples from Weiland's and adding some new taste treats.
“The jukebox is 30-years old, and I like it that way. I'm old school,” says Else, age 40, who ran two bars in California before coming to Pittsburgh. "I got into this business because I enjoy making people happy. I made money for others for several years and decided it was time to do it myself. With my own bar, I can have parties and make people happy all the time.”
Someone Else’s Bar is surprisingly demure. The atmosphere is dim, but classy, smoke-free and family-friendly. Else said couples with children are regulars at the bar, and while there’s no official children's menu, they are happy to downsize several menu items. Of course there are chicken tidbits, chicken quesadillas and grilled cheese that can be appreciated by all ages. For the grown-ups, the portions are anything but child-sized. Else stresses fresh ingredients in all of her menu offerings, and while you may be in a bar, you’re not geing “bar food.”
Take, for example, the Tuesday night Angus burger special: a half-pound of Angus beef cooked to order with your choice of three custom toppings, one sauce and, if you so desire, your choice of typical burger toppings – lettuce and tomato.
Your custom toppings can range
from bacon, sauerkraut and chili to
coleslaw, potato pancake and sautéed
onions, to name a few. Each week,
Else offers a “Guest Topping" which, in the
past, has included hot pepper cheese, baked
beans and crumbled bleu cheese. Once your burger is concocted, you can smother it in
your choice of buffalo, BBQ, honey mustard,
thousand island or bleu cheese dressings. All
that comes in at just $7 on Tuesday nights.
Prices vary the rest of the week, based on
toppings selected. With most sandwiches at
Someone Else’s Bar,
$3 will double the meat,
taking your half-pound burger to a full pound.
Other highlights on the menu include the customer-tested and -approved Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla, the Willow Avenue Stacker, which is a monster hybrid between a Reuben and a Rachel on Cibrone’s marble rye; and the Viking Buffalo Chicken sandwich—a sandwich made "famous" by Weiland's, now reconstructed with two freshly-breaded, deep-fried chicken breasts on a Cibrone's hoagie roll, with lettuce and homemade buffalo sauce. For the smaller appetite, the Viking Jr. was introduced in May. All the love, only half the size.
While there’s no dessert menu at Someone Else’s Bar, there’s really no need. Everywhere you turn you’ll find jars of M&M’s, Twizzlers and Hershey Kisses for the taking
“I love candy. It brings people together. Strange as that sounds, it works. It’s my thing. Sometimes we’ll give away Klondikes or cupcakes, but there’s never a shortage of candy,” Else said.
And there’s never a shortage of “Snacks,” a.k.a., appetizers. Someone Else’s Bar offers wings with homemade sauces, pierogies, potato pancakes and Nacho Nachos, to name a few.