PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — CONSOL Energy Center is in its fourth season of Penguins hockey, but in all that time, right across the street, Fifth Avenue has looked pretty much the same. Same storefronts. No restaurants. That is, until now.
Behind blue tarps is Uptown’s newest addition and you can thank the Old 29er.
“Restaurateur… Oh, I like the way that flows,” says former Penguin and the team’s current radio color commentator, Phil Bourque.
With construction still roaring in the background, Bourque is just days away from officially being in the restaurant business as the Blue Line Grille, on the site of a long-time uniform factory, is nearing completion.
KDKA’s Jory Rand: “So, Bourqie, what – hockey, broadcasting isn’t enough for you? You need to add something else?”
Bourque: “Just not enough. Two kids, just juggle it all, right? As a player you get asked quite often, ‘Hey, I’m gonna start a restaurant deal, you wanna get involved?’ You say no probably 50 times during your career. But just something clicked.”
It probably had something to do with the features this new place will have.
In addition to a 5,500-square rooftop deck overlooking CONSOL and Downtown, there’s a full bar and restaurant downstairs, along with a full-sized penalty box.
“There’s not a place in the country that has its own penalty box inside the restaurant,” said Kevin Nord, one of the owners of the restaurant.
“We’ve got the penalty box, the sin bin. Two minutes of shame, right? Right in there. You just slam ‘em up against the boards and say, ‘Hey, straighten your act out.’ It’s great. Tremendous,” said Bourque.
Nord is one of the principal owners, along with Doc Mendolson who owned Doc’s in Shadyside for 25 years. Together, they helped recruit Bourque and another former Penguin, Bill Guerin, who was off in Canada scouting for the team.
“He’s got a burger named after him; “The Old 29er,” which is great,” said Nord. “Billy G has a pizza named after him.”
Rand: “What’s on the burger?
Bourque: “The burger is pepper jack cheese, some mushrooms and some Frank’s Red Hot ‘cause I like it spicy.”
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There’s also a VIP section, which they’re hoping sees some visits from Penguins’ players after games.
“We hope so,” said Bourque. “It’s only 42 steps from door to door; so, we’re gonna try to make this a destination for them; and obviously, the fans will have that connection.”
The goal is to open “The Blue Line” next week, and “The Uptown,” the upstairs portion, later this month.
“When you’re part of a project like this, you watch it go from gutting the building to watching it grow, it becomes like a part of you,” said Bourque. “The excitement is like a fever pitch, you just want it to open so bad.”