Now Open: St Clair Social, a new neighborhood bar in Friendship

Debuting with beer and cocktails for takeout, St. Clair Social opens in the former Sharp Edge space. Carryout food begins next week.

by Aadam Soorma
August 6, 2020

Soft launching today – Thursday, Aug 6 – is St. Clair Social, a neighborhood bar in Friendship.

Located at 302 South St. Clair Street, in the space formerly occupied by Sharp Edge Beer Emporium, the neighborhood gastropub is debuting with a drinks-only menu for curbside takeout.

St. Clair Social plans to roll out their food menu in about one week.

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St. Clair Social: a name and a location

The name – St. Clair Social – quite literally refers to their location, at the corner of Friendship Ave and South St. Clair Street.

Folks who remember walking through the doors of Sharp Edge will note touches of the past sprinkled into the revitalized interior, including historic tap handles and repurposed light fixtures in the entryway.

The core team at St. Clair Social in Friendship includes (L to R): Cat Cannon, Cecil Usher and Chef Will Randall.

Cat Cannon and Cecil Usher, who have a combined 20+ years of experience in the food and beverage industry, are breathing life into the bar concept as the operations managers. They will lead all aspects of St. Clair Social’s branding, design, menu offerings and guest experience.

“Sharp Edge had a feel and a vibe,” Usher explains. “There are some newer people who have moved into the neighborhood; they heard about Sharp Edge but never got to experience it. Well, now they have a neighborhood bar too.”

Usher and Cannon – who comprise the Mindful Hospitality Group – were also the duo behind the launch and operations of Commerce Bar, a speakeasy that debuted in East Liberty last year.

“With Commerce, we leaned into classic cocktails in an intimate setting,” says Cannon. “St. Clair Social is a neighborhood bar, through and through. We’re focusing on beer, food and cocktails with some divey aspects mixed in as well.”

What’s on the Drink Menu at St. Clair Social?

Expect to see local beer from Cinderlands, Eleventh Hour and CoStar – all available for carryout growler fills. You can purchase a growler from St. Clair Social – or bring your own and they’ll rinse and fill it for you at a discounted rate.

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Folks looking for other craft options will also be able to scoop up beer from Destihl, Modern Times, Rhinegeist, Great Divide and others. They will also debut the bar with 4-packs and 6-packs for carryout, including the Black is Beautiful collaboration beer in cans from Hitchhiker Brewing.

On the mixology side of the bar, Cannon is excited to showcase cocktails that celebrate conventional classics along with some thoughtful, unique options.

“As we ramp up and offer more menu items, expect to see cocktails on nitro, frozen cocktails and canned cocktails,” Cannon explains.

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If you’re in the mood for something more familiar, St. Clair Social will happily serve you their shot and a beer boilermaker – which pairs up Hamm’s lager with a shot of Jameson.

“If you’re used to drinking Genesee Cream Ale or Yuengling, we’ve gotchu covered,” Cannon says.

In the future, St. Clair Social will roll out a ‘mug club’ for regulars focused on beer. When restaurants are safely able to have folks gather in groups, their annual Mug Club Party for members will include a beer dinner and other fun events.

What will the food menu look like?

Although food service won’t begin for about another week, St. Clair Social’s focus on gastropub fare will offer approachable, comfort food that holds up well for takeout.

The St. Clair Social team outside their space on the corner of Friendship Ave and South St. Clair Street.

The kitchen is led by Chef Will Randall – formerly of the DeShantz restaurant group and Muddy Waters Oyster Bar in East Liberty. Randall says they will debut with a smaller menu that scales up when dine-in is permitted in the future.

“A couple of my favorite menu items so far include our wings – which will go by the dozen – and come in five different sauce or rub options, including Korean BBQ, Pineapple Hot Sauce and Bourbon Buffalo,” Randall says. “And our grilled peach salad, which comes with prosciutto, goat cheese, dried cranberries, toasted pepitas and pickled red onions, topped off with a citrus vinaigrette.”

Randall is also excited to offer St. Clair Social’s take on Barria Tacos. For folks unfamiliar, he offers an explainer.

“So, the traditional Mexican style taco tortilla itself is dipped in braising liquid and then toasted with chihuahua cheese. Traditionally, these come with beef or goat. We plan to start with braised pork. The meat gets folded and topped with onion, cilantro and a fire roasted tomato salsa. And in a taco version of what looks like a French dip, we thicken the viscosity of the initial braising liquid and offer it up on the side for dipping – like a jus.”

Expect to see burgers, sandwiches and other pub fare as well.

Know Before You Go: St. Clair Social

To start, hours of operation at St. Clair Social will be Monday thru Thursday (4pm to 10pm) and Friday & Saturday (4pm to 11pm).

Happy Hour specials will be in effect Monday thru Friday (5pm to 7pm) and will be extended to both drink AND food items, once the kitchen is up and running next week.

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Although bar service is not permitted at this time, guests can pick up pre-ordered drinks curbside along St. Clair Street and get a glimpse of the revamped space.

“We’ll take online orders via our website and have everything ready for you to pick up right here at the space,” Cannon explains.

“We’re accepting walk-ups too,” Cannon says. “We’ll have a QR code menu that’s fully contactless and people can keep up with our new offerings via Instagram and Facebook as well.”

How to place an order at St. Clair Social: 

  • Order online
  • Walk-up to the bar for curbside takeout (contactless QR code menus available)

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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