Ten years ago, Susan Coe noticed an open space across from her holistic wellness center, Peace, Love & Zen. At the time, Coe also ran the now defunct Bloomfield bar and Howlers concert venue.
“I fell in love with [the East Liberty location] and said if I ever moved my bar or opened a new bar, that’s where I would go,” Coe says. On Saturday, August 6, her dreams come true.
Coe’s latest business venture and Pittsburgh’s newest live music venue, The Bridge Music Bar, debuts at the very location that caught his eye all those years ago with a grand opening festival showcasing a lineup of entirely feminine. Performers include Clara Kent, Murder For Girls, Hemlock for Socrates and DJ Femi, among others.
Initially, the plan for the East Liberty property was to become the new Howlers. However, after a change in ownership caused Coe and her business to vacate her Bloomfield location in 2020, she secured a lease on the Penn Avenue site and was expected to move the popular bar across town. Then COVID hit. For about a year the property sat empty and Coe’s outlook changed.
“So much time had passed and the space had a whole different vibe,” says Coe. “I love how historic this one is. The bar, back bar, exterior signage and floor are all original 75 years ago. Howlers was a little more stingy, a little rougher. I knew that it wouldn’t be exactly like Howlers, and if I kept it like Howlers, people would expect Howlers.
The Bridge Music Bar will focus on catering to musicians and provide diverse music programming for the City of Pittsburgh.
Already planned for the month of August, a blues evening with Jimmy Adler, a jazz performance by Tony Campbell, a ska, polka, punk and rockabilly set with The Polkamaniacs and Boom Rockets, and a show by the dance group world beat King Fez, to name a few. A wide array of local artists will visit Bridge Music Bar most nights, providing Pittsburgh musicians and bands with a much-needed platform as live music slowly returns.
Although The Bridge Music Bar’s menu isn’t quite as extensive as the performance schedule, it’s just as appealing. The simple offerings – fresh salads and sandwiches, small plates and charcuterie boards – are made entirely from scratch.
“It’s going to bring a lot of people into our community,” Coe says. “When you have a music spot, it becomes a destination spot. Not only will it be great for East Liberty, but it will be great for a lot of other people. For anyone who might have a tainted image of what East Liberty is, it will help change that personality.