Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

105-Year-Old Family-Run Restaurant Succumbs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

105-Year-Old Family-Run Restaurant Succumbs

Article excerpt

The sign out front says it all.

"FOR SALE. Former Landmark Restaurant," and below that, "Thanks for 105 great years."

The Sept. 17 floods had many victims, but perhaps none served a greater role in Heidelberg than Wright's Seafood Inn.

Owner Dave Wright Davis, 69, recently made the difficult decision to close his family business because of the cost of damage sustained when Chartiers Creek, swollen by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan, inundated the restaurant, which sits on its banks.

Davis co-owned the 285-capacity restaurant with his wife Jan, 53. The two were intent on reopening Wright's until repairs proved too expensive.

"We decided not to go back into debt at this stage in our lives," he said.

Wright's Seafood Inn, on Washington Street, had been the site of many special events -- political meetings, wedding rehearsal dinners and New Year's Eve parties.

It was once a drawing card for hungry spectators coming from the old Heidelberg racetrack and a favorite of former Pennsylvania Gov. Jim Duff.

Davis' great-grandfather, William C. Wright, founded Wright's in 1898. It was passed down through the family to Davis, who became the owner in 1956.

Dave Wright Davis' ownership of the restaurant, in fact, has been bookended by flooding; in August 1956 Wright's was hit by a flood.

Davis remembers his grandfather, Dave Wright, sitting on the restaurant steps and weeping. He passed away a month later.

"I think the flood had a lot to do with that," Davis said.

In September's flood, 4 feet of water rose in the main dining room. Davis estimates that about 70 percent of the restaurant's tables and chairs were destroyed.

Every bar stool was trashed and a $22,000 wine stock was contaminated.

The water lifted Wright's trash bin and carried it down the street.

Today, the restaurant's dining rooms are filled with refuse. Salvaged chairs and wood are scattered throughout the building.

All wall space below the floodline had to be gutted and replaced.

The Davises, who live above the restaurant, had recently completed renovations to Wright's when Hurricane Ivan arrived.

By late morning Sept. …

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