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Carnegie business man plans outdoor block party for March

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:12 p.m.
Jim Riley, owner of Riley's Pour House, points toward Broadway Street, where East Main Street will be closed off to Robert Avenue for a St. Patrick's Day block party. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item

Jim Riley wanted to throw a big St. Patrick's Day party in Carnegie in 2012 but ran out of time to do it.

He'll likely get his chance this year.

Riley, the owner of Riley's Pour House on East Main Street, recently got approval from Carnegie Borough Council to host an outdoor block party on March 16 and 17. The event will require the closure of East Main Street between Robert Street and Broadway Avenue from 7 a.m. March 16 to 6 p.m. March 17.

“We're very excited,” Riley said. “I don't think it's too over the top — I think it's kind of just right, even though it seems like people say, ‘You're blocking the street.' We're blocking a small portion of the street, and I think it's just enough to give it a fun festival type of atmosphere.”

Riley is awaiting final approval from the Liquor Control Board for an extension of his liquor license into the street. If he receives that permission, the block party on the street will run from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. March 16 and from noon until 4 p.m. on March 17.

Patrons will have to go indoors after 8 p.m. March 16 and after 4 p.m. on March 17.

During that time, food such as sandwiches and chips, as well as draft beer, would be sold in the street, and music from inside the pub would be broadcast outside via speakers.

A limited Irish menu will be served indoors.

To receive approval from Carnegie Borough Council, Riley made certain concessions, including the hiring of off-duty police officers to patrol the area, providing waste disposal and providing portable toilets.

“(The borough) gave me a list of certain criteria I had to meet for this to take place,” he said. “I thought it was reasonable, and I didn't have any problem with meeting it.”

Carnegie Borough Council approved the block party by a 5-0 vote at its meeting Feb. 11, but not until after some residents voiced concern with the idea.

“My concern is that we're setting a precedent here allowing businesses to, at their whim, decide when and where they can serve alcohol,” resident Jim Boyd said.

Boyd also objected to closing a portion of Main Street for a 35-hour time period.

Council President Rick D'Loss said while it was “atypical” to close a portion of the street for one business, he said street closures have occurred before in Carnegie for borough festivals and church festivals.

“We don't want to inconvenience our residents, obviously, but we want to help the businesses in Carnegie and encourage people to come to Carnegie,” council vice president Pat Catena said. “Maybe this will bring a few more residents in on the weekend to ... go to businesses in Carnegie during this time frame.”

Riley said he requested permission for the event because space is an issue at his pub, particularly on a holiday like St. Patrick's Day. He wanted to hold the event last year, but the pub didn't open until February, which left him too little time to get the various approvals.

This year, he expects the busiest times to occur in the late afternoon on March 16. The parade in Pittsburgh is scheduled for 10 a.m. that day.

“I'm hoping that people enjoy it and take it for what it is,” Riley said. “For us, we think it'll be fun.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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