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-era service station, the eatery 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 in their cars and cruised down scenic routes that snaked through small towns from coast to coast. Each stop was a chance to experience regional culture and cuisine.
That’s the inspiration driving the Rear End: a gastronomic journey across America.
Etna-based developer Mike Rios, who is opening the spot with his father Joe Rios and his business partner Maria Paterra, says the menu will rotate quarterly, offering creative, yet approachable roadside grub.
Chef Anthony Tripi will use burgers and sandwiches as blank canvases, adding myriad fresh ingredients to reflect different traditions from across the country. The restaurant will host events, such as crawfish boils, every time the menu changes.
Given the building’s history, the eatery will have an automotive aesthetic, including car parts built into the décor and nine garage doors that open onto dog-friendly patios. Rear End also boasts its own parking lot.
The bar will feature 20 taps; one will be reserved for the Rear End’s house beer, Dented Fender Kolsch made by Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing Co., while two “traveling taps” will highlight breweries from regions featured on the food menu.
The cocktail program will be centered around mezcal, an agave-based liquor that has a smokier flavor than tequila. The space will include seating for 15 patrons at the bar as well as several high-top tables. A small foyer separates the original building from the newly constructed, 3,000-square-foot, full-service dining room, which will seat about 100 people.
For even more nostalgic fare, folks can walk down to 409 Butler St. and visit the Bitter End Rye & Charcuterie Bar, which the Rios family is opening with their business partner Keith Svitek.
In late December, they began gutting the former Nooch’s Bar, which has been serving booze since Prohibition ended in 1933. The contemporary speakeasy will specialize in charcuterie boards and rye- and gin-based cocktails. Lucky Sign Spirits in Millvale is making the bitters. It’s expected to open eight to 10 weeks after Rear End starts serving customers.
David Hood, director of operations for both businesses, says the entire façade of the Bitter End building will change but they’re 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 repurposed. After removing drywall, crews discovered a mural painted in the 1920s advertising Cruikshank Brothers ketchup. They hope to preserve it or bring in a local artist to recreate it.
The group also owns the former bank building next to Rear End and plans to open a restaurant in the space by 2023.
Etna, a borough just four miles from Downtown Pittsburgh, is fast becoming a foodie destination. Wild Child, chef Jamilka Borge’s seafood concept, is opening soon at 372 Butler St.
“We are rooted in Etna,” Hood says. “This is an opportunity to have an impact in the community and it’s something we take very seriously.”