Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Joe Chiodo: 1918 -- 2007

Joe Chiodo died Sunday night. Those of you who have read my PA Breweries book know that Joe's bar in Homestead, Chiodo's Tavern, was one of my favorite in all the world. Joe was iconic, the barman who was always there (all 5 feet of him), always ready to talk, always quick with a smile -- actually, that's not quite true; if you were out of line, Joe had no room in his bar for you, and you went out, a firmness I admired more and more as I matured.

A guy named Jay Harper took me to Chiodo's my first time. Jay was another CMU grad student, a buddy I hung around with when I was living in Da Burgh while doing my History master's. He dragged me down to Homestead one night -- said there was this bar we had to go to. I have no idea how Harpo found it, he was like that; he talked me into going to see Jerry Garcia's band, another thing I'd have never done on my own, and another thing that's one of my best memories (so Jay, if you ever read this: thanks, man). We went down there and got caught up in a bachelorette party and some of Joe's good beer and fresh-cut fries, and Chiodo's became a part of my life.

I won't hash over the stuff that's in the obituary. I'll just say that Joe Chiodo had the kind of show-up-every-day responsibility and love of his business that makes a great bar. Chiodo's Tavern was a treasure, a place that was always comfortable, never unfamiliar, a place where I once sat with two Homestead guys and helped design a better mousetrap, a place where Uncle Jack had his first Edmund Fitz Porter, a place I always made time to visit when I was in Pittsburgh, a place I truly miss. I'm gonna miss Joe Chiodo.

6 comments:

Scott Beveridge said...

There was no other place that said Pittsburgh quite like Chiodo's.

Bill said...

I'm sorry for the loss of such a wonderful person. I'm a Freemason, and we have a line in the funeral service about losing a link in the chain that binds us together, so let us work to strengthen the remaining links through friendship, compassion, and the like. One of the things I enjoy about your work is the sense that you're friends with this extended family of writers, brewers, distillers, bartenders, restauranteurs, and sales folks -- and you all help each other out, and yet, if the beer/whisky were to vanish, you'd probably all nevertheless remain close. I'll raise a glass to Joe Chiodo's memory tonight, and a second to you for letting us into this world.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad day. Joe was one of the finest men I've ever met. I'll drink a shot of whiskey and a bottle of Iron City in his memory.

Z-man said...

I'm sad to hear of the passing of Joe Chiodo. He was a wonderful human being. He was also the owner of what I believed was the finest bar in Pittsburgh, a city with an abundance of great bars. I have a small bar in my house and there is a picture on the wall of two of my Army buddies, my Dad, Joe, and I in Chiodo's one afternoon. Three generations sharing a conversation and thourouhly enjoying each other's company. I looked at that picture and drank an Iron in Joe's memory when I heard the news.

Simba said...

I can't think of the great city of Pittsburgh without thinking of Chiodo's Tavern. A place where you could easily lose a day drinking good beer, and talking with good people. I ohly had the pleasure of meeting Joe once, but during that afternoon I learned what a great man he was. Thanks go out to Mike (you know who you are) who has a nack for finding the most awesome bars I have ever seen. Chiodo's Tavern is still #1. Joe, you will be missed.

Michael O'Brian Band said...

We are sorry to hear of the passing of Joe. A finer barman there never was! Enough said. Michael