I just came back from a food shopping mission to Little Italy. The sunshine kept breaking through the clouds making it very pleasant to be strolling down Liberty Avenue on a morning when the temperature was already in the 70s.
I strolled by the different store fronts and enjoyed the activity in the commercial district. I strolled past Armand’s (I won’t have anymore fun money until next week). There didn’t seem to be any customers in the dark interior. I strolled past the butcher shop. It’s an old fashion butcher shop. The butcher actually cuts the meat in the shop. And I strolled past the tobacco outlet and across the street into the supermarket.
When I came out of the supermarket with my supplies (sweet tea, half a pound of cooked salami, a package of ground beef and a candy bar) and strolled through the parking lot I couldn’t help but gaze across Liberty Avenue at Del’s Italian Restaurant. After more than 60 years in the neighborhood, Del’s was no longer in business.
Del’s was one of the best known Italian restaurants in Little Italy, maybe in Pittsburgh. And for years it was the place to be for karaoke on Friday nights. Del’s had three dinning rooms, but karaoke on Friday nights took place in the bar. The bar maybe sat 30 people. For years karaoke was standing room only. And some of the best karaoke singers in the city sang karaoke there. There were some real characters back then and I was a prime suspect.
Then for some reason, management decided to put three HDTVs in the bar in addition to the two TVs that were already in the bar. That meant that on karaoke nights there were four TVs in the bar that were tuned to something, usually sports, that had nothing to do with karaoke.
I think that’s when Del’s began to lose it’s karaoke crowd until there was no more karaoke on Friday nights.
And finally, Del’s lost most of it’s dinners, too.