Pitt alums remember Peter’s Pub


Eric Amundson

Peter’s Pub on Oakland Avenue will close its doors for the last time Friday, May 25. (Photo by Anne Amundson | Staff Photographer)

At Peter’s Pub in Oakland this past weekend, the generally happy atmosphere of a normal Sunday night was nowhere to be found. Bar staff and friends sat around the bar reminiscing about their time working and hanging out at the Oakland staple, which will be closing its doors after 44 years.

In a Facebook post May 16, Peter’s Pub announced that a farewell event Friday, May 25, will be the bar’s last night. Peter’s has been a vital part of the Pitt college experience to many students who went to celebrate their 21st birthdays or used the space to hold events for community groups on special occasions.

To alumni, Peter’s has been a landmark on campus as well as a hangout. Pitt graduate Jacki Haar, class of 2002, said she always thought of Peter’s as a go-to destination whenever she had friends or family around.

“I never felt unwelcome or alone,” Haar said. “It was always like home to me.”

Haar, originally from Florida, remembers bringing her parents to Peter’s when they came to visit and attend a Pirates game. Haar played softball for Pitt on a scholarship and would go with teammates to celebrate wins or to relax after practice.  

“My friends and I would always go after a good practice or watching a hockey game on TV,” Haar said. “It ended up our tradition.”

Peter’s’ closing marks the end of an era during which the Pub has hosted countless bands and been a spot where many Pitt students met longtime friends. For some, Peter’s has been part of their lives ever since turning 21.

Dominic Williams, Pitt class of 2008, can’t believe Peter’s is closing. Williams, a former Pitt football player, said Peter’s is like a home to him. He’s been going to the bar since turning 21 in 2007, and after a while of regular attendance, got a job at the door. He earned himself the nickname “Governor of Oakland” among some friends for his attitude and kind behavior.

“Peter’s is definitely my favorite place on campus,” Williams said. “It’s been so important to so many people.”

Others who have worked or currently work at the pub said that they see the upcoming farewell event as one final time to be together. Madison Rumon, Pitt class of 2015, has worked at Peter’s for the past five years and sees the entire staff as a family. The staff grew so close to each other that they consistently travel together, most recently with a trip to Croatia a few weeks ago.

Rumon and her roommate, Emily Scanga, who also graduated in 2015, were both sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. They said that they’ve both witnessed and made memories in the pub.

“We’ve seen people meet boyfriends and girlfriends here,” Scanga said, “and we’ve all partied here at some point.”

With the pub as such a large part in their lives, Rumon and Scanga both said they can’t imagine a campus without Peter’s Pub.

“Friday is going to be the hardest,” Rumon said. “Hearing all the stories from everyone is when you realize our impact here.”

For some, Peter’s holds even more importance than as a place to drink and make friends. Pitt graduate Rio Costa, class of 2017, got engaged to her now-fiance Adam Smith Friday, May 19, at Peter’s. The couple memorialized their engagement on one of the walls of the bathroom alongside old writing and drawings from patrons over the years.

“[Peter’s] has always been special to us,” Costa said. “Especially to me.”

Rumon, one of Costa’s sorority sisters, said the bar ignited into cheers when Smith dropped to his knee to propose to Costa in the bar where they first met. Rumon heard others around the bar yelling, “He just proposed!” but did not see who it was until the two stood back up.

“I hadn’t seen someone get engaged here before,” Rumon said. “Having it be one of my sisters was amazing.”

Costa said that she wasn’t much for partying while a student, but spent a lot of time in Peter’s during the day. She did most of her classwork at Peter’s during her senior year in lieu of going back to her off-campus apartment. When Costa did her work in Peter’s she felt included in the discussions, drama and fun that occurred between workers and patrons.

“I met a lot of cool and weird people and made some cool friends,” Costa said. “It became a home away from home.”

For some students and alumni, this is the end of an era. While many places have come and gone throughout the years, few places are able to bring people together as well as Peter’s did for their staff and their patrons — and Pitt alumni can attest to that.