Nied’s Hotel in Lawrenceville closes after 78 years
The handwritten sign attached to the front doors of Nied’s Hotel on Butler Street in Lawrenceville reads “Closed for repairs” in stocky black letters.
But Nied’s is indeed closed for good, owner Jim Nied told the Tribune-Review on Tuesday.
The Pittsburgh institution closed its doors for the last time Dec. 30.
“Can you tell there’s a million stories?” said Nied, 67, when asked to pick one that might begin to sum up the decades he has spent running the restaurant.
Nied celebrated the bar’s giant fish sandwiches and plaques recognizing its commitment to selling Iron City beer. He showed off a signed photo of Pittsburgh native and former CIA director Michael Hayden, who hosted a book signing at Nied’s in 2016.
“I’m in my fourth quarter,” he said. “I’m in a business that requires good service, and good atmosphere.”
The business, he said, became difficult to update and maintain.
The family-owned bar, restaurant and music venue opened in Lawrenceville in 1941 after relocating from Homestead. Nied started helping out in his teens but started working there full-time in 1977, after serving as an officer in the Air Force. Nied’s originally served as a “boarding house and local watering hole,” according to its website.
His father, Paul Nied, ran Nied’s Hotel for nearly 70 years. Nied said he was fortunate to work with his father for more than 30 of them.
The people are what made his time running the place memorable. Longtime staff and loyal customers made the long days and nights worth it.
“They were more like family to me than customers,” Nied said, showing off a photo of two regulars that hangs below a clock at the end of the bar.
Nied doesn’t know what’s going to happen next or who might move into the space. The place looks like it could open for business at a moment’s notice, with ketchup bottles and napkin holders lined up along the bar and twinkle lights illuminating the dining room. He remains optimistic that “something good is going to happen.”
The best case scenario: Someone new moves in for another 78 years and keeps the name, Nied said.
News spread Tuesday as musicians and neighboring Lawrenceville businesses shared their sadness and well-wishes on social media.
“We are equal parts happy and sad to hear the news about Nied’s Hotel,” wrote the Pittsburgh-based country group The Beagle Brothers on their Facebook page. “It’s been our privilege to play at Nied’s many times, inside and outside, over the years. The staff has always been nothing but warm and gracious to us, and Jimmy always treated us like family.”
Allegheny Wine Mixer, also on Butler Street, shared this post on its Facebook page:
“From the day we started moving in down the street from this Lville institution, Jimmy Nied was nothing but kind, helpful, and supportive,” it said. “… We’ll really miss our neighbors, but I wish Jim all the best in his retirement which he has most definitely earned. Much love.”
“I just wish him the best, and I’m very thankful and blessed,” he said of his time performing there.
Nied’s Hotel, where Forsythe filmed the Emmy-nominated special “Live From Nied’s Hotel” for WQED-TV, became a beloved and legendary Pittsburgh institution because of Jim Nied, Forsythe said.
“Jimmy is the common ingredient,” he said.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, email@example.com or via Twitter .