Share This Page

A longtime fixture, Mohan's in Penn Hills adapts with the times

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 9:53 p.m.
From left, Manager Jay Verba, owner Chuck Mohan, Jr., and Manager Cheryl Szarmach with their ribs and chicken dish, left, and chicken mozzarella Monday, November 5, 2012 at the restaurant in Penn Hills. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mohan's chicken mozzarella, left, and ribs and chicken dish at the Penn Hills restuarant Monday, November 5, 2012. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Who knew you could get chicken and ribs from ice cream?

To hear Charles Mohan Jr. tell the story, that's exactly how one of Penn Hill's iconic restaurants came to be.

Framed black-and-white pictures of a tree-lined Route 22 in Monroeville, the Plum Creek Viaduct and a railroad roundhouse in North Bessemer hang from the walls of Mohan's Restaurant.

And a row of beer steins, one mug for each of the 46 Super Bowl winners, stretch over the bar, setting up an instant make-yourself-at-home atmosphere.

But let's face it — you don't go to a place that describes itself as the “Home of Universal Fried Chicken and Ribs” for the wall fixtures.

Here, taste matters.

“We've been here a long time. We're part of this community,” says Mohan, who owns the friendly restaurant on Saltsburg Road. “People need to know we're in Penn Hills to stay.”

It might be hard for some to believe that a menu of hearty golden fried chicken ($8.95), creamy fettucini alfredo ($8.50) and hickory-smoked ribs ($16.99 whole rack, $11.50 half rack) can evolve from ice cream.

But that's just what happened.

It was Mohan's father, Charles Mohan Sr., who started it.

Better known as “Moe,” the elder Mohan worked as a salesman for Meyers and Powers Ice Cream Co., trading drums of tasty ice creams, sherbets and other frozen delicacies for a day's pay. Often, he would sell his wares at Shires Drug Store in the Universal Shopping Center, next to what was then the Heritage Lounge.

But while ice cream paid the bills, Moe had always had a dream of starting his own eatery.

So when the Heritage Lounge went out of business, he bought it in 1963 and opened Mohan's. At that time, it was a 1,600-square-foot bar with a small dining area.

Expansions would follow over the years as other neighboring businesses pulled out. Today, it spans 6,400 square feet and has a full-service restaurant, bar and take-out store with more than 300 beer brands.

Besides chicken and ribs, the restaurant offers a wide variety of appetizers, such as mini burgers ($6.89) and Buffalo chicken dip ($7.59), and sandwiches, from egg salad ($3.69) to an open-face gyro ($6.25) and prime rib ($9.35). Entrees range from beef liver ($8.79) to Surf & Turf ($12.59), with fried chicken and breaded butterfly shrimp. There also are salads, pizza and wings.

“Too often, we find restaurants who don't keep up with the times. The concept gets stale,” Mohan says. “We're able to survive because we've adapted. We give people what they want.

“We've always done that, and we always will.”

Mohan's Restaurant is at 7324 Saltsburg Road, Penn Hills. Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-793-3121; www. mohans restaur ant.com

Chris Ramirez is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cramirez@tribweb.com or 412-380-5682.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.