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Shadyside’s Elbow Room closes after 67 years

The Elbow Room’s signature American comfort food will be missing from Shadyside after the restaurant closed last Sunday.  (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor) The Elbow Room’s signature American comfort food will be missing from Shadyside after the restaurant closed last Sunday. (credit: Jonathan Leung/Photo Editor)

The Elbow Room, a longtime comfort food staple of 5533 Walnut St. in Shadyside, closed on Sunday. The announcement that the restaurant was being sold was made on its Facebook page on Oct. 9, and restaurant owner Michael DiFiore posted on The Elbow Room’s website that “after 35 years we are selling The Elbow Room,” inviting the restaurant’s former patrons to visit his three other restaurants in Shadyside: Buffalo Blues, Bites and Brews, and 1947 Tavern.

1947 Tavern, at 5744½ Ellsworth Ave., was the original location of The Elbow Room. In 2010, the restaurant moved to what was previously Max & Erma’s at 5533 Walnut St., and its first location became 1947 Tavern. DiFiore bought the restaurant in 2003 from his parents, Joe and Nancy DiFiore, who themselves bought The Elbow Room in 1983 with J.T. Waters.

The restaurant is closing, the owners said, because it is becoming increasingly difficult to staff, given Pittsburgh’s recent restaurant boom.

The Elbow Room was sold to the Trapuzzano Group, LLC, which is currently in the process of transferring over the location’s liquor license to Trapuzzano Italian Chophouse, LLC.

The Elbow Room first announced the sale on their Facebook page, posting “We will be open as The Elbow Room for another two months and would love to see you and hear your stories about your favorite Elbow Room memory. We know many of you had your first date with us, got engaged, celebrated birthdays and had family celebrations. Stop up for dinner or a drink and share your stories with us! Little Joe will be waiting for you!”

“I’m kind of upset about it,” said senior professional writing and creative writing double major Aubrey Moraif, saying that she’ll miss the “classy” ambience that The Elbow Room brought to Pittsburgh.

The closing of The Elbow Room accompanies several other restaurant closings and openings in the vicinity of Carnegie Mellon. Along the Craig Street corridor, — along with the Chipotle scheduled to open on Jan. 1 at 4611 Forbes Ave. — Sushi Fuku is set to open at 417 S. Craig St., the former location of Dozen Bake Shop. The Craig Street location will complement Sushi Fuku’s other Oakland location at 120 Oakland Ave.

Oakland’s Joe Mama’s Italian Deluxe at 3716 Forbes Ave. closed on Oct. 27 and reopened Nov. 4 as Olio Trattoria, another casual Italian restaurant. The previous owners of Joe Mama’s, Mike Hanley and Jerry DiLembo, also own Burgatory and Uncle Sam’s. The restaurant was bought by Brandon Smith, Greg Ripper, and Daniel Sutton, alumni of the University of Pittsburgh who also bought Fuel & Fuddle from DiLembo and Hanley over the summer.