Now Open: Commerce Bar, an East Liberty Speakeasy

Located behind Bird on the Run, you can now visit Commerce Bar speakeasy for an intimate - but approachable - night out. Here's our preview.

by Aadam Soorma
February 26, 2020

If you are looking for another secret speakeasy… check out The Confidant in Lawrenceville. 

From the team behind Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, Kahuna Poke and Juice Bar and Bird on the Run comes a bar concept located…in an alley?

Like any modern take on the American speakeasy, Commerce Bar plans to present itself as a quiet, subtle take on an evening out for drinks.

What is a speakeasy?

The actual term ‘speakeasy’ derives from the era of prohibition (1920 to 1933). Illicit, bootleg drinking clubs serving loose forms of cocktails and spirits popped up around the United States to skirt the strict alcohol laws. Attending a speakeasy, however, meant you knew where to go – and when. They weren’t well-marked and speakeasy owners were selective about whom they spoke to about their operations.

In more modern terms, retro-style bars that refer to themselves as a speakeasy hearken back to an era when they were more prominent. A speakeasy will often feature an element of live music, such as jazz, and maintain an obscure, muted entryway for guests.

Know Before You Go: Commerce Bar

Although Commerce Bar doesn’t plan to officially open til the weekend of November 22nd, here are a few things to know before you go.

Photo: Tom O’Connor

According to managing partner Diana Kucenic, there will be seating for ~35 people, which includes bar seating.

To enter Commerce Bar, walk around the building that houses Bird on the Run and keep walking along Baum Blvd, past Lorelei. Turn into the alley near ACE Lock like you’re heading to the Goodwill drop-off point. At this point, you’re technically on Commerce Street (which continues around the corner toward the AAA Building). Look for a park bench and a plaque near a door with no signage. Knock on the door; a host will greet you.

Commerce Bar has no storefront, no address and is located directly behind Bird on the Run; but you cannot access it FROM Bird on the Run (guests are not permitted to walk through the restaurant’s kitchen).

Photo: Tom O’Connor

Speaking of food, guests at Commerce Bar will be able order fried chicken and small plates from Bird on the Run. They can also order oysters from Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, which is next door.

Drinks / Vibe at Commerce Bar

Per Kucenic, the space is intimate with a warm and cozy feel. A better fit for a date or smaller groups, Commerce Bar will have servers handling table side cocktail service, along with a pair of bartenders for folks seated at the bar.

Speaking of drinks, the team at Mindful Hospitality Group is putting the finishing touches on Commerce Bar’s drink menu. Expect to see 16 or 17 cocktail options (which will include all the classics with varying levels of ABV) along with 6 beers and ~7 wines, which include sparkling and rose. Cinderlands Beer Co plans to supply their popular pilsner, Tracks Again.

Upon launching, Commerce Bar plans to be open Thursday night thru Saturday night (6pm to 2am) and Sunday night (6pm to ~midnight).

Photo: Tom O’Connor

Our recommendation: head to Commerce Bar for that after-dinner drink. It’s a late night spot, great for date nights and showcasing Pittsburgh’s lowkey spots to a friend visiting from out of town. Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates and sneak peeks, including teasers from their thoughtfully curated drink menu.


Bird On The Run
Getting there
128 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA
Mon Closed
Tue-Thu 11am–10pm
Fri-Sat 11am–11pm
Sun 11am–9pm
More Info

In 2012, Aadam moved to Pittsburgh. He's currently parked (sans chair) in Lawrenceville and plans to stay a while. On the weekends, you'll find him driving a small green bus (Porter Tours) as he leads tours at local breweries. Got a fun story idea? DMs are open: @asoorma.

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