Landmark cafe in Pine to close, could become trolley museum exhibit
Time is running out to grab a hefty homemade chicken salad sandwich at the Wexford Post Office Deli in Pine.
Owner Paul Mitchell plans to close the landmark café – a former trolley station built in 1906 – on Saturday.
He hopes to donate and move the building — originally the Wexford Station House on the Harmony Line — to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington County.
“We just need to say goodbye. … That's not been an easy decision,” said Mitchell, 46, president of the Post Office Catering Group in Economy, Beaver County, where a number of Mitchell's 10 employees make the salads, desserts and other foods sold at the deli.
Fans still can order their favorites through the Post Office Catering Group, but the future of the building remains uncertain.
“We would like to move and preserve it, but we need funds to do it,” said Scott Becker, executive director of the trolley museum. “Our board of directors has agreed to accept the donation, once we have the funds. ... We have a trolley that once served that station.”
Until last week, employees at the Wexford Post Office Deli expected Mitchell to buy an adjacent structure — the vacant, former Wexford Volunteer Fire Department — and then expand the deli. But such an expansion ultimately seemed too costly.
“It was a very large undertaking for a business of this size,” Mitchell said. “It was just too big a risk.”
Mitchell cited competition from nearby Giant Eagle Market District in Pine and Whole Foods in McCandless as a factor in his decision to close.
He bought the deli in 1993. He rented the former trolley station for 20 years from descendants of late Wexford Postmaster Alphonsus Brooker.
“I'm going to miss this place,” said Sewickley businessman Jeff Mercer, a regular. “I don't know where I'm going to go.”
Mercer stopped Tuesday at the deli with a business associate for a $6 egg salad sandwich on rye bread.
“I come into Pittsburgh two or three days every month, and this is my regular stop,” said Mark Hornung of Chicago. “It's world-class.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.