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Fox Chapel

Silky's Crow's Nest closing to make way for new Sharpsburg spot

| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, 1:27 p.m.
David Lampenfeld with his dog, Stanley, takes a break on the multi-leveled decks at Silky’s Crows Nest. The Sharpsburg restaurant on the Allegheny River will close next month.
David Lampenfeld with his dog, Stanley, takes a break on the multi-leveled decks at Silky’s Crows Nest. The Sharpsburg restaurant on the Allegheny River will close next month.

Whether it’s called Silky’s Crow’s Nest or more simply, the Nest, the riverfront restaurant and Allegheny marina will see the end of an era in November.

Business partners and brothers David and Tim Lampenfeld will close the longtime Sharpsburg hot spot after Halloween.

Until then, the “place to meet and eat” will live up to its slogan but only for lunch during the week and for dinner on the weekends.

The Lampenfelds sold their 5 acres of marina property to Riverfront 47, a potential development on 1.5 miles of land that runs from Sharpsburg to Aspinwall along the Allegheny River.

The Lampenfeld family sold the lease for the Crow’s Nest, too. Sharpsburg owns the restaurant land and building. The lease is almost up, David Lampenfeld said, which aided their decision.

For nearly 30 years, the family has been providing night life on the river drawing visitors from far and wide. They took ownership of the site in 1989. David Lampenfeld manages the financial side while Tim Lampenfeld heads up the kitchen.

“It’s going to change a lot, but it’s out of my hands,” David Lampenfeld said. “It’s like two sides of a coin. There are good memories, family parties. But there were a lot of disasters.”

The site has withstood three floods: two in 1996 and one in 2004. A fire in 2015 shut down the eatery for four months. Ice floes last winter rang up $30,000 in damages and refurbishing.

This year brought another roadblock, literally, when the bridge between Aspinwall and Sharpsburg was closed for reconstruction.

The Nest’s River Road access sits about two blocks from the bridge, causing Main Street to become a deserted dead end, David Lampenfeld said.

Despite the bridge reopening in early September, the closure hit hard. Businesses suffered a 50 percent decline in patrons, owners estimate.

However, memories of the restaurant and marina will remain a treasure.

The marina is located on the Pittsburgh pool, below the Sharpsburg dam with access to the North Shore and the Point. It is tucked behind Six Mile Island. The view from the four decks and the long, windowed bar is a green mountain and shimmering river.

David Lampenfeld laughed while recalling a raccoon that attempted to have an extended stay on one of the decks, and the escapades of beavers, ducks, geese and other wildlife.

“It’s like a secret hideout. It’s like a little nature preserve back here with every animal you can imagine,” the restaurateur said.

Running the business is more than a job to David Lampenfeld. He and his brothers grew up working there. He fondly thinks of his parents Lois and Al, sons, nephews and many people who have worked at the Nest and become part of the extended family. At one point, there were as many as 40 employees at the Sharpsburg restaurant.

David Lampenfeld, now 56, has been on the job since he was 19. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Business from the University of Pittsburgh, he returned to the bar and restaurant.

“Life’s an education,” he said. “Keep on learning.”

David Lampenfeld intends to take his own advice. He’s already cooking up new opportunities, with a Bloomfield property to be named “Silky’s Pub” near the corner of Liberty Avenue and Baum Boulevard.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer.

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