The Harris Grill: We Don’t Have to Worry About Fires!

The Harris Grill is a mainstay of Shadyside, with hipster style to go with its hipster clientele. The menu features a variety of delicious cuisine. Much of the delectable delights are derived from standard bar food, except with quality ingredients and snarky, choke-inducing puns (examples: Cheeses of Nazareth and Britney Spears).

Wait – that should all be in the past tense, since it was gutted by a blazing inferno on Saturday. Sadly, no hipsters were harmed in the fire.

I’m being snarky myself, but I think the owners and operators of the Grill kind of deserve it. It’s an extraordinarily good thing that nobody was injured, since it could have easily happened differently.

Inexcusably, the Harris Grill had no smoke detectors.

Also, this:

Firefighters found a wooden fire escape and the top floor in flames when they arrived about 10:15 p.m. Saturday. After not finding the stairs, fire crews were forced to leave the building and switch to Plan B.

Note: they didn’t find any stairs to the floor that was on fire because there weren’t any. The firefighters’ Plan B involved poking holes in the roof, among other things. So not only were the patrons of Harris Grill in danger, the brave folks entrusted to put the fire out were in danger, too.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that perhaps we have municipal fire codes for a reason.

The owners of the Grill have vowed to rebuild. With luck, they’ll have the foresight to install $5 devices that might keep its patrons safe from another accident.

Also, note the sad coincidence embedded in delicious, pan-seared irony: the unaltered logo of the Harris Grill.

NOTE (08/15/2007): The sentence that reads “I’m being snarky myself, but I think the owners and operators of the Grill kind of deserve it” follows standard sentence structure. The noun “it” refers to “snarky.” I in no way intended to suggest that the Harris Grill somehow deserved to be destroyed by fire. I apologize for the confusion.

10 Comments so far

  1. Nathan Gura (unregistered) on August 14th, 2007 @ 11:26 pm
  2. The REAL Nathan Gura... (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 10:00 am

    Very funny assholes, whoever left this first comment “from me” can kiss my ass. That comment was NOT left by Nathan.


  3. smoke (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 11:10 am

    WHAT – how is it possible that there were no smoke detectors in this place.


  4. april carlisle (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

    James, you’re right. Plus, the hedgy, hipster aura of the Harris Grill is one that might be better served in smoke. Plus, I’ve never had especially good service there. Perhaps they advise their servers to be morose? also: why is it so pretentious? also: why does it cost soo much? Also, why is their menu so fucking mean? okay okay. Sorry Mr. Chef. I can certainly get behind a culinary masterpiece when I see one coming. But there’s nothing extraordinary about the Harris Grill’s food. It’s costly comfort food. Good, sure. But the Union Grill Cafe just across Fifth Ave on Craig is similarly good, but at an insanely good price. Oh yeah, and they have smoke detectors and un-moody, kind, accommodating servers.


  5. lex loser (unregistered) on August 16th, 2007 @ 1:18 am

    How can a bar that permits smoking even have smoke detectors?
    Wouldn’t they be going off non-stop? I think everyone should attempt to be a little less judgemental and a little more thankful that this didn’t happen to them. I know the staff and owners, and know for a fact that they really try hard to please their customers and take care of their staff. This is a real tragedy. I’m old enough to remember that this place is one million times better than the old harris grill. How can you people possibly suggest that their “attitude” or pricing somehow made them deserving of such a tragedy…James, April, you should be ashamed of yourselves…


  6. Ryan Clark (unregistered) on August 16th, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

    Thank God someone like you was here to gather second hand accounts and pilfer quotes from other online sources.

    I could list all of your factual errors and what not here, but what good would it do? This blog entry wasn’t about the harris burning down or what caused the harris to burn down, it was about your unbridled enjoyment over the fact that the Harris did burn down. That “delicious,pan-seared irony” must make you feel so superior to those smug hipsters that shunned you at the Harris, huh? How dare they have a menu that makes puns or allowes people that you don’t like to congregate?

    Rest soundly, James. You can go to sleep knowing that you and all of your coffee-house intellectuals will have a great chuckle over a bunch of Pittsburghers that lost a way to make a living and even more that lost a place to grab quality food and drink in a fun atmosphere. You look really superior and intelligent authoring all of this, not pathetic and insecure over your own diminished sense of self worth.

    Again, great blog. Mighty pround of you.


  7. Ngai Wharff (unregistered) on August 17th, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

    I was going to add to this but after reading what Ryan wrote, I need not go further. Funny, no response from James, how cowardly of you.


  8. A (unregistered) on August 18th, 2007 @ 10:14 am

    I just wanted to point out that no patrons were in danger because of the lack of stairs to the third floor. They weren’t even allowed up there.


  9. A (unregistered) on August 18th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    oh, and also, i love that the harris was being criticized by a fan of the union grill, the most repulsive restaurant in pittsburgh.


  10. drue miller (unregistered) on August 18th, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    I was one of about 15 people sitting on the back patio at Harris Grill when the fire started. The staff got us out of the building quickly and with very little fuss (no running or screaming, everybody just got up and walked out quickly). As we were going through the bar out to the front, a few people were coming down from the second floor as well. We all got out within a few minutes and there weren’t any injuries.

    I didn’t see any flames or smell any smoke inside the building, and other reports confirm that the fire was entirely outside at that point (it didn’t reach the third floor until a few minutes after everybody had been evacuated), so I don’t know how much danger the building occupants actually faced at that point.

    Also, I don’t see how smoke detectors would have made us safer unless they could detect an exterior fire; there weren’t any flames inside the first or second floor, and the fire was outside of the building until about 5 minutes after we’d left the building, when it reached the third floor and roof.

    The electricity remained on until the firefighters turned it off so they could run another ladder through the utility wires (this was at least 45 minutes later – we were commenting on the incongruity and sheer Pittsburgh-ness of watching the Steeler game on the TV while firefighters were climbing up the first ladder.)

    Harris’ owners, staff and patrons (hipster or otherwise) don’t deserve your mean-spirited, self-righteous comments. If you dislike the place, fine, but don’t do a happy dance on its ashes.



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