Shane Feeney has been a resident of Beechview all his life, and says he feels more optimistic about the South Hills neighborhood than ever. Even though he says he’s seen a fair number of businesses fail in the block of Broadway near the Shiras T stop, that’s exactly where he opened Feeney’s Weenies with three friends in November.
“We just were ready to get our foot in the business world, to get up and running,” Feeney says. “We’re surprised by how well it’s going so far.”
For now, Feeney’s Weenies serves Hebrew National franks, but makes everything else on its menu, from pulled pork to chili to potato salad and cole slaw from scratch. Eventually they plan to case their own hot dogs as well. They deliver to Brookline, Beechview and Dormont, and have future plans for a food truck and to expand their catering business.
The top seller is their Pittsburgh Dog, which comes with fries, cheese and slaw but Feeney says his personal favorite is the Porker, which has bacon, pulled pork, chipped ham and barbecue sauce.
Feeney bought the shop from the short-lived FryDawgs, which opened in August and closed in October. “Being a one-man show is tough and it got to be too much for him,” he says of the previous owner. “I think a lot of people in the neighborhood were glad when we took over, that it wasn’t going to be another empty restaurant.”
Beechview’s business district seems to finally be on the verge of a comeback after years of being stymied from development by title-clouded commercial properties. The city is in the process of reclaiming a slew of blighted properties that were abandoned years ago by developer Bernardo Katz (Feeney’s was not among the properties).
There are still several legal hurdles to cross before the properties, many in the main business corridor on Broadway Avenue, are free and clear, says Ashleigh Deemer, chief of staff for councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. But at long last, some progress is finally being made.
Even though business is good, Feeney says he’s a little concerned about the upcoming repaving project that PennDOT will conduct along the Red Line tracks in the spring. Deemer says it’s her understanding that the project won’t entirely close the road, but will have an impact on parking in the area. The project will affect the portion of the Red Line route between the Fallowfield and Neeld stations.
For now, though, Feeney is focused on keeping business growing. Over the next few weeks, they’re holding a contest for customers to suggest new hot dog varieties (several ballots have been cast in favor of a peanut butter and jelly dog), and will pick the best ones and let customers vote on the ultimate winner. And they’re working to be a good community neighbor, acting as a drop-off spot for a coat drive that Pittsburgh NORML is holding through the end of January.
“I was born and raised in Beechview, so I care about the community,” Feeney says. “We’re hoping to be here a long time.”