The last time I was in Wiechec’s Lounge on Clinton Street in Kaisertown was during the summer of 1988. My dad played softball on the diamonds across the street and afterwards my family and I would regularly head there for lunch. While the adults recapped the game, my sister and I huddled in a booth chatting away, eating pizza logs and drinking pop. It’s just what you did when your dad played bar-league softball.
The first thing I noticed when I went back there on a recent Friday night was that the place hasn’t changed. The pool table still has the brass lions adorning its corners that I remember as a kid. Photos of long-time patrons hung on the walls and I think the same dart machine still stands in the corner near the front door. Larger than your average corner bar (the restaurant seats at least 60), the best way to describe Wiechec’s atmosphere is exactly how I remember it: welcoming. It’s a family-friendly place with an “everyone-knows-everyone” kind of vibe, which is how I imagine it’s been for more than 50 years – when they first opened their doors. Important to note that it’s a cash-only establishment and if you’re there on a Friday between 5 and 8 p.m., be prepared to write your name on a list and wait for a bit.
It’s worth it though. Wiechec’s has an extensive menu ranging from your average pub eats like chicken fingers and their “famous roast beef” to handmade specialty burgers, grilled sandwiches, NY strip steak and pierogi dinners.
With the Lenten season in full swing, locals ritually seek out the perfect fish fry – and Wiechec’s definitely delivers. If you go with a classic beer-battered fish fry dinner, a roughly 14-inch piece of fish that’s crispy on the outside and perfectly flaky on the inside will hang over your plate, accompanied by a healthy portion of shoestring french-fries, a vinegary coleslaw, and sweet and creamy potato and macaroni salads. If beer batter isn’t your thing, their Friday specials, served from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. give you the option of breaded, broiled or Cajun blackened fish dinners.
So, now that I’m tall enough to see all of the felt on the pool table, I actually understand the rules of darts and I’m old enough to enjoy a beer, I can definitely see my adult-self frequenting Wiechec’s. And the next time I’m there, I might just sit in a booth and order up some pizza logs – for old times’ sake.