Chesterfields Restaurant, a popular dining choice in North Huntingdon Twp., Pennsylvania, closed recently to make way for a Walgreens drug store and a Starbucks. The Lincoln Highway landmark just west of Irwin (now across from Norwin Shopping Center) opened as the El Dorado in 1934, then for years was the Ben Gross Supper Club, famed for its dinner theater. It had been Chesterfields since 1986, and was one of the last of the region’s legendary dinner spots. According to The Daily News [McKeesport, Oct. 23], with the current owner’s husband passed on and their two sons not interested in a labor-intensive business, they sold to Walnut Capital brokerage firm for $1.5 million. The restaurant was host to many local banquets, celebrations, and Rotary meetings, and until recently had 87 employees. Also likely to be demolished is the adjacent Kirk Haight Auto Sales, best known in years past for having a car atop a pole. See a short video of Chesterfields final day at WPXI.
1934: Signs advertised spaghetti, steak, chicken, beer, and dancing to an orchestra.
2007: You can still see the roadhouse and to its left, a one-story building with gable windows.
According to a Tribune-Review article, the 3.6 acre plan needed a variance or it would not have been allowed under the shopping center code, so 58 parking spaces will serve where 87 would otherwise be required for that size development. Also, the township asked for an electronic community bulletin board along the Lincoln Highway across from the intersection with Lincoln Way (a road deceptively named in the 1920s to divert LH traffic through the Mon Valley). An Eckerd Pharmacy already sits across the road at that intersection.
According to Walnut Capital’s site, the developer also bought and is demolishing the 1964 Colonial Revival headquarters of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County on the Lincoln Highway to the east in Hempfield (west of Greensburg) for a Walgreens and other retail. (That 16.1 acre site went for $6 million.) In a nod to the road, it will be known as Lincoln Place. Click here for images of that development.