Max & Erma's looking for new Downtown location

Written by Gretchen McKay on

sapp max erma burger

The rumors are true. Come 8 p.m. Sunday, Max & Erma's on Stanwix St., Downtown, will be closed for business.

But that doesn't mean this location of the popular casual-dining chain, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is gone for good. Rather, it just needs a new home.

According to the chain's PR firm, Brad Ritter Communication, it wasn't poor sales that led to the Golden Triangle restaurant's demise (it was really bustling today at lunchtime), but rather an expired lease. It's currently searching for a new Downtown location.maxerma1

Known for its massive "build your own" burgers and stained-glass decor, Max & Erma's got its start in 1958 when Max Visocnik and his wife, Erma, bought a neighborhood bar in Columbus, Ohio's German Village neighborhood. Expansion began after they sold it in 1972. The chain's first location in Pittsburgh, in the old Gimbles department store on Smithfield Street, opened in 1979. It relocated to Stanwix St. in the late '80s. 

Acquired by American Blue Ribbon Holdings  in 2010, the chain today has some 80 restaurants in 10 states, including eight in the Pittsburgh area (not including Downtown).

To keep up with the times, the company is investing millions locally in updates. The Monroeville location was remodeled earlier this summer and the one in Robinson reopened with an all-new look on Oct. 22. The chain's chefs also revamped the menu, though portion sizes (huge) still bring back fond memories of 1980, the year I had my first (underaged) drink there (a strawberry daquiri) while I was working a few blocks away as a waitress at Stouffer's on Penn Ave.

maxerma2New offerings include a Turkey, Avocado & Swiss Burger and the Windy City Brat Burger, which piles grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut on top of a pretzel bun with crispy onion rings and beer mustard. 

Post-Gazette photos


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