Vintage cars and hot pizza — how can you go wrong with this mountaintop pair?
It's a little off the beaten path, but Dean Allen hopes people will make a trek to Bear Rocks to visit his newly opened car museum.
For added incentive, there's good pizza.
The vintage vehicles are housed in a new building attached to Acme Corner Pizza, a short hop from eastbound Route 31 at the top of Three Mile Hill in Bullskin Township, Fayette County.
The 13 cars and trucks in the Classic Car Museum (along with a 1930 Plymouth Roadster inside the restaurant itself) represent about half of a collection that Allen, 66, has amassed over the years.
The gleaming display includes a brilliant yellow 1929 Model A Ford, a burgundy 1937 Buick 8 (which Allen says is the most fun to drive), and a two-tone green-and-white 1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer.
“I'm getting up in age, so I just wanted to do this while I still have time here on Earth,” he says. “People should enjoy them, other than me just putting them away in a garage.”
Allen lives a stone's throw from the museum and does state inspections in his Double D Garage on the property. He's also worked as an independent trucker and a diesel mechanic.
He collected the vehicles from all around the United States. Shelves in the garage hold dozens of trophies he's won with them at car shows
Allen and pizza shop owner Pam Tylka put their heads together for the museum.
He calls Tylka his stepdaughter, though the bond isn't a legal one. They've known each other since Tylka was a child and Allen had a relationship with her mother, Donna Clark, who also helps out in the restaurant.
Tylka says Allen is known around Bear Rocks for his penchant for collecting, and not just cars.
“One ain't ever enough for him,” she says. “He goes to the total extreme with everything he's ever done. I got him an old phone for Christmas and then he started collecting them.
“People were sitting here eating one day and we got to talking about him collecting,” Tylka says. “I said maybe we should put a car in here and, boy, that's all it took.”
Allen started building the museum addition in May with help from his nephew, Craig Allen of Connellsville.
He says he'll rotate the featured vehicles about every six months.
One car on display that is especially dear to Allen is a two-tone white and dusk pearl (similar to mauve) 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
“I grew up poor and that was my childhood dream, to own one,” he says. “The ‘57 Chevy is the most sought-after classic car in the country. New, they sold for $5,000; now it's up to $50,000 to $60,000.”
He bought his about 10 years ago for $38,000.
The first exhibition also includes Tylka's 1984 bronze Corvette, with the original $25,000 sticker still in the window.
“It was just sitting in my garage collecting dust,” she says. “It might as well be in here.”
And pizza, too
Opening day on Nov. 3 found Allen walking between two rows of vehicles facing each other across a floor painted with highway markings. Route 66 signs adorn the walls. Oldies from the '50s and '60s blast from the speaker system. Vintage green Sinclair gas pumps flank the doorway.
Just inside, a life-size cutout of President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up. Farther back, Elvis — from the muttonchop-sparkly jumpsuit-era — beckons with a smile.
Tylka wants to find a vintage jukebox to complete the decor.
There are tables along one wall, so diners can enjoy their meals while viewing the cars.
There's no fee to take a look, though Allen says he hopes visitors will order something from the restaurant when they come in.
In addition to pizza, Tylka serves a large menu of stromboli and pepperoni rolls, hot oven-baked subs, other sandwiches, burgers, pastas and salads.
“She makes the best pizza around,” Allen says. “It's all natural, too.”