Coach's Bottleshop & Grille scores big with its namesake client base
UCLA's John Wooden, North Carolina's Dean Smith, Pittsburgh's own Chuck Noll — all Hall of Fame coaches.
Their framed photographs hanging along the walls are the perfect decor for this new sports-themed restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Coach's Bottleshop & Grille, in Banksville Plaza, is the place to strategize over the next game, watch your favorite teams on one of the nine LED high-definition televisions or reminisce about your playing days.
Last week, several coaches gathered for something to eat and a drink while watching an NBA game — the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. “When we come here, pretty much the minute we walk in the door we see someone we know, because we grew up not far away,” said Seton-La Salle High School football coach Greg Perry. “We enjoy coming here for the food and a drink and to see other coaches. We can all talk about when we played sports and how good we were. Even people who aren't coaches have fun here.”
Coaches belong to an unspoken kind of fraternity.
“In our busy coaching lives, this is a nice place to stop in and catch up,” said Duquesne University football coach Jerry Schmitt. “No matter the level you coach, we all put a lot of time into our passion for sports. So we come here and solve some of the same problems all coaches have. We respect each other's opinions.”
The name fits to a tee says owner David “Gig” Ondik Jr., who played sports, is a fan, and knows a lot of coaches, including his uncle, John Lee, who coached 16 years of high school basketball. Lee and Ondik's father, Dave, who also coached basketball for 16 years, often help the younger Ondik run the business. Things have been good, thanks to word-of-mouth advertising among coaches.
There is even a game you can play at Coach's – Cornhole is featured on Friday nights.
“This is a sports-themed restaurant with an upbeat ambiance and good food at reasonable prices,” said the younger Ondik. “We want this to be a place that all people can come and hang out.”
Bill Nott and his girlfriend, Donna Durkan of Scott, stop by weekly, sometimes more often.
“This is a great place,” Nott said. “They have a good thing going here. We enjoy the food and the atmosphere.”
“You have to taste the desserts,” Durkan said. “They are delicious.”
All the tasty treats are made by an in-house pastry chef. The funnel cake is a much-asked for item, Ondik Jr. says. He plans to offer eight to 10 options of this popular dessert.
Start your meal with an item from the Pre-Game menu, which offers items such as shrimp cocktail for $9.99, Coach's famous pub pretzels and beer cheese dip for $5.99 or fried pickles for $4.99.
The Field of Greens option has six salads from the garden salad to the Pittsburgh steak salad. Sandwiches include such offerings as the Rueben and jumbo fish for $9.99 and the turkey bacon cheddar wrap at $8.99.
The burgers are popular — there are five to choose from starting at $7.99 — as well as anything buffalo chicken from the wrap, to a grilled cheese, salad and flatbread. Prices for the buffalo chicken choices start at $7.99.
Add a side of French fries — regular, seasoned salt, Cajun, garlic parmesan or sweet potato.
All food is prepared by chefs Ed Shipman and Tyler Stakutis, who helped develop the menu.
“There has been a big learning curve,” said Ondik Jr., a Duquesne University graduate with a finance background, having worked at J. P. Morgan and BNY Mellon. “But you learn to find the right people to help you, because there is a lot of work involved.”
Coach's offers more than 60 bottles of beer choices and 10 drafts and is looking to expand those options. Hard milkshakes, for example, include Kahlua Chocolate, Double Chocolate Godiva, and the Irish Cream Shake.
“We want this to be our customers' home away from home,” Ondik Jr. said. “It's a family environment here. We invite everyone to come in to talk, watch a game, enjoy something to eat.”
Coach's, 3105 Banksville Road, Banksville Plaza. Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays through Thursdays, noon-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon-midnight Sundays. Details: 412-207-9397 or www.coachsbottleshopandgrille.com
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.