Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Belated RIP: Cafe La Place

In the early '90s, Mildred La Place had an epiphany. Sandwich shop + dinner theater + Uptown Mt. Lebanon = Rake in the gold.

So she opened Cafe La Place along Washington Road and for years staged high-budget, critically acclaimed masterpieces like "Nunsense 2". Lebo's resident dinner theater aficionados turned out in droves to take in a little bit of Broadway with their chicken cordon bleu.

One of many glowing reviews of Cafe La Place.

The theater's top performers were honored with stars on the "Walk of Fame" installed along Washington Road, and several went on to long successful careers in Hollywood. Starry-eyed fans would stop them in Elby's or The Food Gallery for an autograph, a handshake, or a photograph with their idol.

Success breeds contempt, however, and the Denis Theater next door began a calculating counter-programming strategy to lure theatergoers away from Cafe La Place. In 1994, the Cole Porter medley show "Almost Anything Goes" was completely upstaged by "Robocop 3" at the Denis, and Cafe La Place was closed within weeks.

Pedestrians along Washington Road say that, if you listen carefully, you can still hear the strained high notes and hollow-stage clompings of these masterful performances in the air.

RIP Cafe La Place. You brought glitz and glamour to our central business district for all too brief a time. You will be missed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

La Pomponnée Scandal: The Healing Begins

(See the original report for more details.)

Since the La Pomponnée accent scandal broke overnight, more of the story has emerged.

Owner Kristen Peckich has indicated that the sign manufacturer did indeed make a mistake -- one that, in their kind Lebo hearts, they pardoned. Ms. Peckich also offered an apology to our community, one that I believe we all accept gladly.

So, citizens, what could have been a blemish on our Uptown landscape turns out to be another story of neighborly understanding and kindness, another quirky tale to add to the lore of Lebo, "A community with character."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sign Scandal Rocks La Pomponnée Salon & Spa

The citizens of Mt. Lebanon are reeling from a signage scandal that has shaken this close-knit town to its very core. At the center is popular local salon and spa, La Pomponnée, an AVEDA spa, they'll have you know, that offers everything from "hair design" to "holistic skin care" to "sea mud body wraps".

By exploring their website, you will note that they consistently and unerringly refer to the business as "La Pomponnée" (see screenshot below), with the accent on the second-to-last letter.

(All images shown completely unaltered.)

This all seems well and good... until you book your appointment.

Any resident who proceeds to arrive at the business in question is immediately and irrevocably jolted into a state of confusion and/or rage upon being confronted by the following image.

Yes, dear citizens, you are reading that correctly. The establishment's physical sign, without explanation or provocation, places the accented character at the END of the name.

La Pomponnée (henceforth we will use the spelling seen most often in its corporate communications) did not respond to a Fake Lebo email request for comment.

This breach of public trust no doubt calls into question the spa's committment to "make you look and feel fabulous" as their website promises, for without regard to consistency or appearances they have thrown caution to the wind and altered their very identity right in front of our trusting eyes.

As the concerned populace of our beloved town, we can only hope that patrons rise up in protest and demand that La Pomponnée right these wrongs. Because without a keen critical eye, furious attention to detail, and a maniacal desire to be perfect in all things, this town would crumble to the level of several of our neighboring communities. Like Dormont.

See proof of these devious acts at:
(Official website)
(Navigate to Google Street View at 659 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Belated RIP: Skidgy's Family Restaurant

For nearly twenty years, Skidgy's dominated the clearly-used-to-be-a-Friendly's restaurant category in the South Hills.

Named for the sounds customers' stomachs would make after eating their famous Double-Grease Double-Bacon Skidgyburger, Skidgy's gave Eat N' Park a run for its money in the highly competitive 80- to 99-year-old demographic.

In 1989, the Friendly's restaurant on Cochran Road was forced to close because the irony of its name was too rich for Mt. Lebanon's sensitive palates. Local entrepreneur Percy Jenkins sensed an opportunity and pounced. His revolutionary concept? Dine-in health care.

From IV bag hangers to free oxygen tank refills, Skidgy's catered to their elderly customers' every need, who in turn became slavishly devoted to its offerings. Any given morning would find the restaurant buzzing with activity, as patrons swapped medication advice and World War I stories.

For years Skidgy's letterboard sign read, "FREE BEER AND WINE. PLEAS3 EAT H3RE." In reality, this was a crafty move by Jenkins to attract attention and traffic without sacrificing costs, because he knew that none of the aging customers could handle more than a sip or two of alcohol before falling fast asleep.

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and for Skidgy's it was no different as age caught up to their fan base. Skidgy's last surviving customer passed away in 2008, and Jenkins was forced to sell the property.

Northwest Savings Bank now occupies the premises and is shaking up the clearly-used-to-be-a-Friendly's banking industry in Pittsburgh.

RIP Skidgy's. Your restaurant gave all our great-grandparents a place to eat and enjoy life's twilight. You will be missed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Belated RIP: Towne Fair

In 1993, residents were pleased to learn that the long-vacant Abe's Model-T Horseless Carriage dealership in Uptown Mt. Lebanon was to be converted to operating business space. That sentiment turned to horror, however, when they realized it was to be a youth entertainment center.

Towne Fair (or "Town Faire" or "Towne Faire" as it was also known) offered video games, go-kart racing, and snack food -- in other words, three of the "Top 10 Things that Could Kill Uptown Lebo," according to a township-commissioned report.

While Mt. Lebanon schoolchildren studied at the local library, rowdy kids from other towns poured in to alternately party at the Towne Fair and vandalize our beloved stone Tudors.

Resident outrage grew to a fever pitch. "Sure, Chuck E. Cheese has rodents and beer, but at least it's in Bridgeville," said one Washington Road resident. Activists distributed tract pamphlets entitled "Kids From Other Towns Don't Belong in Lebo". Finally, on the night of April 14th, 1994, the Lebo Homeowners Association organized a mob carrying torches and pitchforks to drive off the owners and restore the property to its rightful purpose -- long periods of vacancy.

RIP Towne Fair. Your leisure activities promoted intemperance and debauchery of the most wicked sort in our beloved community, and you will not be missed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"If This is Cubic Zirconia, I'm Filing For Divorce"


Gee, thanks, Hubby! This diamond-studded bracelet will certainly turn heads at the Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center come summer. (I will stick to Pilates until then because I hear the bubble courts give you fibromyalgia.)

My only concern, though, is a grave one. On our last Lebo Ladies to Broadway trip ("Billy Elliot" if I need to remind you), I believe I saw something terribly similar in that awful bastion of pseudo-technology and fashion dreck, SkyMall.

Couple that with the Russell Stover chocolates that came with it, and I am one tight-wound bunch of nerves. Am I no longer your bright-shining pampered princess, and you my brave knight of industry?

Well, let's just go down to the Clark Building for an appraisal and find out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Belated RIP: The Pub & Pizza

Originally a French-Asian fusion bistro, this restaurant resulting from the partnership of Sasuke Pub and Pierre-François Pizza struggled with perception issues from the outset because of its unfortunate name.

After years of little success, the pair acquiesced to the public and changed the format over to low-quality pizza, pitchers of beer, and Golden Tee arcade games. Because, after all, this was Sunset Hills.

The Pub & Pizza subsequently enjoyed decades of success.

Sadly, their gravy train skidded to a halt in 2006 after a lawsuit was filed by "Mt. Lebanon" Awning (of Presto, PA, I shall remind you) accusing the owners of forcing them to print the words "Pub" and "Pizza" on their cherished canvases. A settlement appeared imminent until a cryptic phone call claiming "Salvatore Mineo is angry" caused the owners to abruptly shutter the restaurant and flee the country. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

RIP The Pub & Pizza. Your mediocre food and beer-serving, walking-distance proximity to low-end housing will be missed.