By Alec Ebeling, Point Park News Service
“The world around it has changed, but this place has stayed the same.”
That’s how Joff Kulig described the Beehive Coffeehouse, the stalwart café and artsy hangout located on East Carson Street in the South Side. The coffeehouse will soon be closing its doors. Kulig has been a barista there for two years, but has been a frequent visitor for nearly 20.
In a statement released earlier this month, co-owners Scott Kramer and Steve Zumoff announced that the café would be closing “in the near future,” citing a downturn in business. “We have been slinging coffee there for 28 years,” the statement read, “but times have changed and business hasn’t been what it was for some time.”
The building housing the Beehive was recently sold to a new owner, the statement said, and that “rent would most likely increase to a higher market rate” as a result. The new owners are planning to turn the space into a bar and restaurant.
The café opened its doors in 1991, and quickly became a haven for the artistic community in Pittsburgh, bringing painters, photographers, musicians, and many other creative Pittsburghers through its doors.
The Beehive is known for its quirky atmosphere, which highlights these local Pittsburgh artists, and its extensive menu, featuring coffees, teas, a food menu, and a selection of coffee-based cocktails. The Beehive also maintains a loyalty program, the Buzz Club, that offers free drinks and special offers.
“I think what sets us apart from other coffeehouses in the city is that we’re pretty laid back here,” Kulig remarked. “A lot of places are pretty stuck up, but the environment here is fun, and in a way it’s inconsistent. Each barista brings their own personality to a drink.”
In addition to the South Side coffeehouse, Kramer and Zumoff also owned and operated another Beehive location in Oakland which was open from 1992 to its closure in 2002 on Forbes Avenue.
“Twenty-eight years has been a great run,” said Kulig. “There’s been a lot of feelings from customers. Some of these people have been coming here since day one.”
Kulig recounted a story of a former barista coming into the shop and ordering “about 10 shots of espresso,” telling him about how she “used to change her baby on the counter.”
“I was a punk raver kid hanging out here in the early 2000s, and I’m a barista here now,” Kulig reminisced. “I’ve seen so many different types of people in the shop.”
In addition to the Beehive, Kramer and Zumoff also own the Super Happy Fun Time Bar & Arcade, which is next door to the Beehive. They say that they plan to find a new location for that bar and hope that it remains on the South Side.
The Beehive will live on, though. Zumoff is in talks with the Heinz History Center to preserve and display a wall-sized mural in the shop, designed by Pittsburgh artist Kevin Schlosser, as well as the shop’s front sign.