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The Best of Pittsburgh’s Self-Told Stories and Why Street Lark Loves "About" Pages



Here at Street Lark, we want to share the many stories of Pittsburgh, using curated itineraries as our medium. We include the what, when, and where because these are important elements in storytelling, and crucial elements when it comes to creating itineraries. But a good story is never complete without the who and the why, and these are the parts of the story that Street Lark especially loves to emphasize.


Call me old fashioned, but when I’m trying to learn about a business or organization, I prefer to fire up the old desktop and head straight to the “About” section on their website.


Regardless of your device of choice — desktop, mobile, or otherwise — one thing’s for sure. There’s only so much story to be told when character limits and time constraints are involved. If you’re looking for some interesting details, the “About” section of a website is where it’s at.


To prove it, I’ve rounded up some of the best self-told stories of Pittsburgh, shared in the “About” section of these business’s websites. Here they are, in no particular order.

Bryan Materials Group

“One hundred and thirty five years ago 'Pittsburg' was in the center of an area booming with industrial growth. The rapid development of the iron and steel industry was creating an explosion in building commerce and transportation… In 1883, in this chaotic setting, Frank Bryan set up his own Company with one horse, one cart and one shovel. The business was excavation. He moved earth, one shovelful at a time, for foundations and roadways. His stock in trade was hard work and value. Now, five generations later, his Company has evolved to one of the leading construction material suppliers in Western Pennsylvania.”


Check out their site for photos of this fifth-generation Pittsburgh business and their historic work they’ve done around town, like the William Penn excavation in 1914, Point State Park in 1936, Stations Square in 1938, and the Tower at PNC in 2014. Then read more about the history of their concrete factory.

La Gourmandine Bakery


“Fabien and Lisanne Moreau were both born and raised in France. They both grew up in families where sitting at the table to share a family meal is of the utmost importance. To quote Fabien, ‘there was always a bottle of wine and some fresh bread on the table and it hasn’t changed!’”


So how did they end up moving to Pittsburgh and starting a french bakery, with now four locations around town? Check out their site to learn more.

Knotzland


“Founded in August of 2014 by Nisha Blackwell who downsized from a local coffee shop and decided to brew her own ideas. Spurred by a passion, the world around her, and building an environmentally friendly business - Knotzland became a reality… We take the best in textile discards and reuse it to create stylish accessories that everyone loves! - Bowties.“


Check out their site to learn more and watch their video from the Google to Grow

initiative. It covers a lot of ground, but one of my favorite parts of the story is about siblings’ support for one another.

The Original Hot Dog Shop


“One incredible display of his heart and character was the lengths to which Mr. Simon [founder of the Original Hot Dog shop] went to help a close friend and employee, Nathan Keyes, receive a liver transplant. During the late 1980s Mr. Keyes was told that he would only have a few months to live if he did not receive a liver and the waiting list for a new liver was about eight-teen months long. Syd Simon knew about tenacity from never giving up through his own continuous battles with cancer and he became an advocate for his friend to receive a new liver. Mr. Simon petitioned the George H.W. Bush administration to help his friend. Amazingly, when there seemed to be little hope, The White House responded to Mr. Simon and Mr. Keyes received a new liver.”


The restaurant’s site has the whole story about Syd and how the “O” originated in 1960s Pittsburgh.

Kraynick's Bike Shop


“In the 1940s, Jerry Kraynick’s dad—Steve Kraynick—made a habit out of picking up old, wayward bicycles that he’d find in junkyards on his way home from his job at the steel mill. In his spare time, in the evening hours, he taught himself how to repair and recycle his rusty old gems. Then he sold one bicycle. And another. And another. And before long, he opened his very own storefront and bike shop and Kraynick’s became a Pittsburgh staple—a store he passed along to his son… When Jerry took over his father’s operation in 1976, he set up the bike shop so that people who walk in can get free advice and hands-on experience. Visitors are encouraged to learn to work on their own bike, to discover the joy of self-empowered mechanical satisfaction.”


When it came time for Jerry to retire too, a volunteer mechanic at the shop, Rocky, stepped up to carry on the tradition. There’s more to read about this community gem, including how Karynick’s gives back with its holiday donation program. Find out by visiting their site.

Rolling Pepperoni

“It's me, Katt, owner and founder of Rolling Pepperoni. When I started Rolling Pepperoni my mission was to create a sustainable model for sharing Appalachian stories across the region: Bake and sell delicious, all-natural pepperoni rolls to fuel story sharing of the Appalachian culture that created the pepperoni roll… For now, the stories I have to share are about building this business based in the "Paris of Appalachia" aka Pittsburgh, PA. There are so many amazing characters, places and plots involved—it'd be a shame to keep all these highs and lows to myself. It might be crazy to share such intimacy with the greater consumer population. But damnit, I'm crazy and need an outlet.”


Read more, then check out the other stories of Appalachia, expanding beyond “Paris” (beyond Pittsburgh) that Kat has since shared, here.

Brewed to Burn

“With the support and love of her parents, husband, step-children and close-knit family and friends, Michelle Dangelo Arnoni launched Brewed2Burn. And while her passion for candles is one that she has cultivated on her own, Michelle’s relationship with the world of beers began at an early age.”


Find out more about a four generation business that evolved into candle making and Brewed2Burn’s beer-inspired and champagne-inspired candles here.


Pitaland


Joe and Jocelyne Chahine visited the United States for their honeymoon in 1974, but when they went to return to their home in Lebanon, war had broken out and it wasn’t safe to return. Joe’s brother ran a small, outdoor brick-oven bakery in the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and Joe soon learned the craft. Today, the bakery's pita bread is served in restaurants all over Pittsburgh and shipped to locations all over the country.


Joe explains the whole story in this video on their site.

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