Decades-old McKeesport business closes doors after one last party with customers

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — It’s the end of an era for a cherished restaurant in McKeesport. The Elbow Room closed its doors after decades but not before one last party Sunday.

Many loyal and longtime customers packed into the family-owned eatery one last time when doors opened at 3 p.m. At one point, the line spilled out the door with people grabbing one last meal.

“We’re taking home pizza with three toppings,” said Linda Costa of Baldwin.

Longtime customer Greg Matta is sad to see the place close.

“All their stuff was homemade, so they would make homemade buns with a whole steak on top of it,” Matta said. “That was really good.”

The beloved McKeesport restaurant has been dishing up favorites for more than half a century.  The owners’ family members told Channel 11, it’s a bittersweet day and an emotional one.

“It’s a tough day for our family,” said Kristy Buckholtz, a daughter of the owners.

After 66 years, the family-owned pub decided to close its doors. Buckholtz said the changing economy became too much to keep up with.

“COVID, it can kind of put a dent on small businesses if you’re not a big multi-million-dollar company, you’re not surviving,” she said. “The inflation went up. Everything’s more expensive.”

When longtime customer Linda Costa heard The Elbow Room was closing, she said she had to bring her son, who’s never eaten there until now.

“Back in the 60s, my husband and I came here,” Costa said. “My husband passed almost two years ago, and I had to bring Greg to see where his dad and I spent many Friday nights here.”

Matta of McKeesport also has fond memories of the restaurant. In the late 60s, he was The Elbow Room’s paper boy.

“This was the end of our route ,” Matta said. “We called him ‘Elbow Jack.’ That was the guy who owned the place. They would give us a coke, or order of French fries, or a piece of pizza at the end of the day or hot days. They were really nice to us.”

A sign outside The Elbow Room read, ‘Thank you for 66 years.’

“We’re grateful for the community,” Buckholtz said.

As far as what’s next for the owners, they said they’re still figuring that out.

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