For the house at 7113 Reynolds Street, making history in hospitality is nothing new. PointBreezeway isn’t like other places in the area.
While it’s a venue and destination for small weddings, showers and rehearsal dinners, it also offers an overnight guesthouse and is available for tours by invitation. The doors are open for chefs, musicians, performances and small celebrations to serve as a vital community gathering point. And while it’s approaching it’s first year anniversary next month, it’s been in the hospitality business in one form or other since the 1800s.
The building was originally a utility barn and confectionery. In the 1920s and ’30s it was a tavern with a brief overlap as a speakeasy. The large tea room served guests in the ’30s and ’40s and the space has always been a neighborhood gathering place. During WWII the previous owners filled the tea room with stationery and pens for community members to come every Thursday night and write to those they knew serving overseas. Historic details about the home and Point Breeze in general can be found in Images of America: Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze by Sarah L. Law.
Lauren McMillen, who owns PointBreezeway, grew up and lived in the home for 25 years with her father Dennis, who still resides in the upstairs portion of the building.
As a child, Lauren remembers her father planning to turn the historic home into something like it is now.
“He started the vision over 20 years ago. He had all of these drawings and plans for the house but nothing really came from it,” she says. “I watched him as I was little with all of these dreams and it inspired me. As I got older it became more and more of a reality.”
When her father wanted to sell the home, Lauren wouldn’t allow it. She took business classes at Chatham, formed an LLC, took out a loan and did everything she could to preserve the dream of turning her childhood home into an ideal venue for community events.
PointBreezeway offers the versatility to accommodate larger numbers (75 people at the most), but it’s best suited for smaller gatherings. Companies can hold board retreats in the speakeasy where they can gather around a library table rescued from the Carnegie Library in Braddock. The tea room offers more space for larger groups and room for a screen for presentations. An option to have ready-made drop-off catering, use of the outdoor patio extension, and little touches such as mason jars and glass milk vases for your cocktails make the experience at PointBreezeway a little different for every occasion.
Some of the more unique gatherings that have taken place include a cast party and a Greenhouse Brunch event with Grow Pittsburgh. On June 21, a Father’s Day Beer Brunch collaboration with Eliza’s Oven and Green Flash Brewing Co. is scheduled.
“It was always known as a place to come and gather and that’s what we’re trying to preserve,” says Lauren. “I want to continue to save the building, and doing these events and opening the space for people to celebrate seems to be the way to keep it around.”
PointBreezeway keeps things all in the family. Though Lauren is the face of the business, Dennis is available on hand as a non-denominational wedding officiant, her mother Gigi works as a host while her husband Jim helps set up space for events.
“We host as if we’re having an event in our house. We’re not just a staff,” says Lauren. “We get to know our guests and their families and their stories. We’re there from start to finish to make sure everything goes well.”