I grew up near Monroeville, PA, in next door Plum Borough and lived in Pittsburgh for a while after getting married. Eat'n Park was a regular stop for weekend breakfasts and late night snacks. Now that I live in northern Indiana, I return to Pittsburgh a few times a year to visit my family; Eat'n Park has been a regular part of those trips, but I'm beginning to wonder how much longer that tradition will last.
Eat'n Park is a regional (western PA, eastern OH, norther WV) chain founded in Pittsburgh in the 1940s as a drive-in. They abandoned the drive-in services decades ago and have become a full-service family restaurant, Like most, the menu has something for everyone and covers all three meals, plus snacks and desserts. They have added in-store bakeries to provide their own breads, pies and pastries. Over the past few years, the chain has added healthy eating options to the menu and procure more of their produce from local farms.
All these initiatives are commendable and speak to increased quality and value, but I can't help but wonder if the stores are beginning to lose sight of the fundamentals.
On my last trip to Pittsburgh in July, I went to the Monroeville store around 7AM for breakfast. The restaurant was not busy, yet the "Please Wait to Be Seated" sign was displayed in the lobby, which would have been fine - if someone had been there to seat me! I waited for five minutes, during which time at least two servers and porters walked by me, making eye contact, without even a word of greeting or move to get the host.
I was eventually seated in the nearly empty dining room near a back corner server station. My server, at 7AM, in an empty restaurant, already seemed rushed and indifferent.
While I waited for my meal, I couldn't help but hear how much the staff was talking amongst themselves as they worked around the dining room. I don't expect silence, but the amount, volume and content of the conversation was inappropriate. I've noticed this in this store before. This wasn't the usual small talk banter workers make around customers; the topics covered personal illnesses and complaints about coworkers - in other words, things a customer should never hear, especially in an eating establishment.
My bear claw - an Eat'n Park signature item - arrived. I had asked for it warmed up, but I should have asked for it to be heated on the flat-top with butter on the side. "Warmed up" means "microwaved" which turns everything to goo. "With butter" means the roll arrives bathed in microwaved butter.
One bite in, I noticed the long blonde hair swimming in the butter (not me - mine is short and gray!). It took nearly five minutes to get the server's attention. She apologized, whisked away the plate and returned shortly with a new roll with no added apology or offer of any kind of compensation.
The rest of my meal was fine - I had a poached egg, turkey sausage and their multi-grain toast. Poached eggs are tricky to do consistently, so I have low expectations, especially since I order them medium. It was only a little runny. No complaint there. The sausage was so-so, the bread good but not what one would expect from store-baked.
The server (by this time the store was only beginning to fill up) was slow to refill my coffee; I was waiting with an empty cup at least twice through the meal.
As I finished, she left my check, which I noticed had no adjustment of any kind for the hairy bear claw. She left before I could say anything to her, so I asked for the manager as I went to the front to pay. I had to wait almost five minutes for the manager to appear. I explained my growing unhappiness with the store - recounting all of the above for him. He apologized and comped my meal completely, which I did appreciate.
But this leaves the question - will the store leadership do what's needed to make Eat'n Park Pittsburgh's leading family restaurant? If they continue on this route, they'lll find themselves just another Denny's or IHOP, which would be sad. We need more local and regional options position between those huge homogonized chains and the more specialized, more expensive, dining options.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.