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Wiener World moving to new Downtown Pittsburgh location

Wiener World Pittsburgh changing locations
Wiener World Pittsburgh changing locations 02:35

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For six decades, it's fed noontime workers on Smithfield Street, but after years of complaining about problems in Downtown's core, Wiener World is closing down and changing locations. 

The city says it tried to address those problems, but the restaurant's owner says the changes did not go far enough.  

It's a Pittsburgh institution, serving its signature natural casing dogs and fries to generations of hungry lunchtime crowds but plagued by street crime and other problems, Wiener World is closing its doors.

After 59 years on the corner of Smithfield Street and Strawberry Way, Wiener World is packing up the ketchup and mustard and saying a bittersweet goodbye -- goodbye to many loyal customers, but for Dennis Scott who bought the business seven ago, it's also goodbye to lots of stress and headaches.

"It's definitely bittersweet, we've been there seven years, met a lot of great people but the area just got to be untenable for us. It's emotionally, physically, mentally draining," Scott said.

In the past few years, Scott has become a very public face of what is plaguing Downtown. His storefront becoming a locus for petty street crime, public urination, open-air drug use and overdoses. In response, the county closed the homeless shelter next-door and the Gainey administration sent in police and cleanup crews. Scott says things got better but not better enough. The overdoes and other problems continued.

"If someone punches you in the face ten times every day for a month, and then the next month, they come by and they only punch you in the face five times a day and they say 'well, it's better right?' And I say, 'yeah, but I'm still getting punched in the face,'" Scott said. 

And so, Wiener World is moving away from the rough-and-tumble world of Smithfield Street to an underground concourse beneath the USX Towers -- a new clean, white-tiled space and a new beginning.

Scott is staying Downtown but the character of Wiener World will be for every changed -- safer and cleaner to be sure -- but maybe lacking in the personality of the old place. It's a trade off that Scott says he's willing to make.

The closure of Wiener World adds one more vacant storefront to Smithfield Street in the core of a Downtown trying desperately to make a comeback.  

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