Homestead’s Chiodo’s Tavern was so many things, but mostly it was FUN.

Proprietor Joe Chiodo frequently used that word to describe the landmark century-old hotel bar on Eighth Avenue at the south end of what’s now the Homestead Grays Bridge over the Monongahela River.

The tavern was sold by Chiodo in 2005 and torn down and replaced by a Walgreens (that just recently closed).

Joe had run the tavern since 1947, first continuing on as an after-shift shot-and-a-beer stop for local steelworkers, then as and after that industry tragically collapsed, as a place where those same locals and others still could get a taste of Steel Valley culture — along with an imported or craft beer and quirky fare such as the Mystery Sandwich. It was a burger with kraut and slices of kielbasa, tomato sauce and pepperoni-pocked “mystery cheese” — and it tasted great with a beer or two you’d never tried before.

Above your head and covering the walls all around you was a massive amount of memorabilia, from mill signs and hard hats to sports memorabilia and patrons’ donated-on-site bras, which gives you an idea of how close the clientele were. Everybody loved Joe, who, after a trip to Italy, insisted that the name be pronounced “KEY-oh-does,” but plenty of people still say “CHI-oh-does.”

One of them is Mark Fallon, a onetime steelworker and retired Steel Valley High School teacher who is the unofficial historian of what was once the Steel Center of the World. When he was a kid in the 1960s, his mom used to send him to keep an eye on his school teacher dad when he drank after work at Chiodo’s, so Mark got to know and love the tavern over the course of more than 40 years.

For Homestead’s centennial in 1992, a bank commissioned famed local artist Robert Qualters to do a painting immortalizing how much of America was “Made With Homestead Steel.” The purple-y painting was enlarged and posted briefly as a big billboard on the side of Chiodo’s, which commanded that corner at the gateway to the town.

Right after the tavern was torn down, Fallon worked with actor David Conrad and Lamar Advertising to make a 30-by-20-foot vinyl version of that iconic painting — the original still hangs in what’s now First Commonwealth Bank in what’s now The Waterfront shopping mall on the site of U.S. Steel’s Homestead Steel Works — to hang on Steel Valley High School. And hang there it did, until fall 2022, by which time the weather had virtually erased it, so it was taken down.

This is where beer re-enters the story, because it was over a few beers at Golden Age Beer Co., which had its grand opening in spring 2022 just about four blocks away on East Eighth Avenue from Chiodo’s corner, that Fallon and Golden Age co-owner Pete Kurzweg and his colleague Bonnie Merchant came up with a delicious idea for resurrecting some of Chiodo’s food menu to help give the painting new life.

A Mystery Sandwich at Chiodo’s Tavern in Homestead. (Mark Fallon)

The Steel Valley History Club, with help from contributors from the community including Kurzweg, had been paying Qualters’ protege Paulina Braverman to repaint the vinyl mural that had hung at the high school. The Waterfront had donated a space big enough for her to work. She used new colors and made some other changes, including tucking a Chiodo’s Tavern into the scene, and one correction: While the Panama Canal locks and the Empire State Building were made with Homestead steel, the Brooklyn Bridge was not, so she changed that to Downtown Pittsburgh’s three Sister Bridges.

Meanwhile, Lamar Advertising’s Jim Vlasach kindly made another big vinyl version of the original 1992 Qualters painting to go back up on the high school. That left the old vinyl copy “canvas” needing a home.

Right now, both murals are at Golden Age Beer, spread out in its bowling alley under renovation upstairs. The repainted (and sealed) mural is to be hung in the Golden Age beer garden. Not only Fallon but also Qualters think it’ll be a great place for people to see this piece of public art. They’re working on how to protect it as much as possible from the elements.

They’re starting to raise funds, and that starts this Saturday, when Golden Age will channel the spirit of Chiodo’s with a “one-day tribute” to the “world famous” Chiodo’s Tavern during which they will serve their version of the Mystery Sandwich and other menu items on “a pop-up Chiodo’s kitchen menu.”

Golden Age’s social media shared this week, “We will donate $1 per item sold to the restoration, reprinting and hanging” of the mural at both the high school and the brewery.

This being Western Pennsylvania, “We’ll have former Chiodo’s bartenders on hand to help.”

Even almost 20 years since Chiodo’s demise, it’s not hard to tap a nostalgia for the place, which Golden Age describes this week as “the platonic ideal of a Pittsburgh bar.”

In a brief history Fallon sketched out for the brewery to share, he explains how Joe Chiodo was an “Italian immigrant and veteran of D-Day” who “learned his work ethic from his father, who owned a cobbler shop in Homestead. Chiodo’s was originally a steelworkers bar, one of many serving the workers at U.S. Steel Homestead Works and Mesta Machine Co. Famous for the ‘Mystery Sandwich,’ in later years it became known for its large import and microbrew selection (thanks Sam [Joe’s cousin]). The bar was packed with donated memorabilia, which was later auctioned off. Joe sold the bar in 2005. It was quickly demolished for the progress of man.”

Progress. Saturday’s event, from noon to 10 p.m., is a nice and sincere nod to this important piece of the past in the very heart of the town where it means the most. “There’s a degree of reverence when people talk about it that’s cool,” says Kurzweg, who had his share of beers at Chiodo’s back in the day.

He says other painting-related events will be scheduled at Golden Age, leading up to the unveiling of the updated version in the beer garden. Meanwhile, he welcomes all to stop by Saturday for some of the fun bar food from original Chiodo’s menus, including fried provolone sticks and a sandwich of chip-chopped ham, appropriately complemented by one of the European-style lagers.

Golden Age is located at 337 E. Eighth Ave. in Homestead; learn more at

Joseph Chiodo’s signature was printed on the back of this postcard, which invited Pittsburghers to “stop in after that long day on the job. Relax, say hello, enjoy the fun and excitement at Chiodo’s.”

Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at

Bob Batz Jr.

Bob, a feature writer and editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and serving as interim editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Contact him at