Station 189 Barbecue on Island Avenue in Stowe is owned by former McKees Rocks firefighter Don Wood.
By Elizabeth Perry
Several dining establishments have recently opened for business or made changes to operational procedures in Stowe and McKees Rocks.
Mama Lena’s II
Robert and Wendy Carrabbia owners of Mama Lena’s II and Mama Lena’s Deli in Stowe are planning on opening another location. Mama Lena’s Firehouse Grille will be located in the former Kennedy Township Fireman’s Club, 13 Fairhaven Road.
The pair are aiming for a soft opening something in mid-September, said Robert Carrabbia.
They purchased the club about two months ago, and now are in the process of painting and updating the building.
Carrabbia said the restaurant will be a full sit-down place, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. At this point, the menu is still undecided.
“We’re still playing around, a cross between Italian, American, little diner food, little bit of everything,” Carrabbia said.
Mama Lena II’s opened in 1995 and gained notoriety for having “the big one,” an oversized pizza that clocks in at a whopping 30 inches.
Carrabbia said the newest restaurant will have, “a little bit of everything, plus more.”
Shay and Baeee Restaurant and Catering opened in the former Pasquarelli’s space, 824 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks in June. The take-out restaurant and caterer specializes in seafood boils and savory sides like corn on the cob and macaroni and cheese. Hours are 2 to 9 p.m.
Station 189 BBQ opened in March at 1460 Island Ave., the site of the former MaryAnne’s Breakfast & Lunch truck stop eatery in Stowe. Owner Don Wood said it’s been slow-going getting people in the door. Not being able to replace the old sign has been an impediment to enticing customers into the fire-engine red building, Wood acknowledged.
The take-out-only barbeque restaurant is a labor of love for Wood, who smokes brisket and pork for up to 18 hours before serving, and is in the building seven days a week cooking or prepping.
The theme of Wood’s eatery is a tribute to his work as a volunteer firefighter with the McKees Rocks Volunteer Fire Department.
He’s been a volunteer firefighter for 36 years, 17 years of that with McKees Rocks. Named after the fire station in the Rocks, Wood now lives in Smithton, Westmoreland County, and volunteers with the department there. He drives two hours round trip to the restaurant, which is staffed by his daughter and wife, who are also firefighters.
His daughter, Savannah, 16, created much of the fire-fighter artwork that decorates the building. On the day Gazette 2.0 stopped in, Nevaeh Thomas and DeMario Sterbacky were behind the counter. Both of them are grandchildren of the former assistant fire chief in McKees Rocks.
“Pretty much everybody here has something to do with firefighting,” Wood said.
Station 189 is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. They are closed Sundays and Mondays.
Rainbow Hibachi opened about a month ago, replacing China Wok II at the same site at 807 Broadway, Stowe. This new spot is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., except Tuesdays, when they are closed. On Fridays and Saturdays, hours are 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.
Kerry Out Nutrition
Kerry Out Nutrition, which opened in March of 2020, has recently added a grab-and-go juice cafe.
“Customers can now come in for juices, salads, smoothie bowls and other healthy options instead of just our normal pre-order, meal prep offerings,” Owner Kerry Connolly said via email.
Connolly said the expansion had been in the works for almost a year and she plans to add more menu options in the future. Being a McKees Rocks native, Connolly wanted to support the community and chose her location at 819 Broadway because it was, “the perfect fit at the perfect time.”
“There is such a growing market for nutrition and healthy eating,” Connolly said.
Kerry Out Nutrition is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Black Forge Coffee
Black Forge Coffee is expanding its menu to include fresh-baked goods and breakfast items.
The coffee shop and live music venue is located at 701 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. Its original location in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh opened in August of 2015 and recently became a franchise location.
The McKees Rocks location is home to its Mill City roaster, where customers can not only purchase coffee but also enjoy watching the process of coffee roasting.
A heavy metal-themed women-owned business, Black Forge Coffee hosts events such as open mic comedy, karaoke and live music performances.
Mo's West Park Diner, 719 Broadway, Stowe has changed hands and will now be known as Au'Driana's. New owner and former employee of Mo's West Park Diner Biti Cohen is planning a grand opening for Aug. 6. The new diner will offer catering and meal delivery. For information, (412) 331-3002.
Love Rocks Cafe
Love Rocks Cafe, located inside the Father Ryan Arts Cente at 420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks for the past three years, closed its doors July 18.
Owner Jackie Page earned a culinary arts diploma from the Community College of Allegheny County in 2009 and launched her own catering company shortly after. She served as a chef at Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille, a restaurant connected with Strip District fish market.
Page moved to McKees Rocks in 2018 after making plans to open Love Rocks Cafe. She’s caterer of choice to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and his wife Giselle and has represented Pennsylvania in the Great American Seafood Contest twice.
Page announced July 25 via Facebook she will be taking on a role as a new assistant general manager at Voodoo Brewing Company’s Pittsburgh Pub on the North Shore. She will continue to offer her catering services.
It’s a Pizza Cake Cafe closed on July 15. Co-owner Brandy Carroll said fewer customers had been coming than they had the year before. Carroll said the recent increases in food and gas prices have kept people away. A stream of loyal regulars wasn’t enough to sustain the business, she said.
The cafe opened in March 2021 in the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing in McKees Rocks and their treats garnered a lot of positive press.
Carroll said days before they shut their doors for good, a customer came all the way from Florida, holding an article about the cafe. He’d been wanting to try their food for months and was not disappointed.
“We’ve had some impact on people,” Carroll said.
Carroll is uncertain about what they’re doing next but is open to the next adventure life throws her way.