Pittsburgh‘s Southside is considered one of the most hip neighborhoods in the area – the one that everyone heads to on Friday and Saturday night to bar hop and party; but during the day, it’s home to an eclectic mix of people and places.
With the Dusquesne Incline on one end and the Southside Works shopping center on the other, the Southside goes from tourist attraction to convenient shopping center with a bit of everything mixed in the middle. Walking down the street on a Sunday afternoon, it’s easy to see this part of the city. There are family-friendly diners and cute bistros, perfect for a first date. Groups of giggling college girls stand outside corner cafes amidst the the psychic shop, the hookah bars, the tattoo parlors, and the dive bars with ten motorcycles parked out front.
There’s a little bit of everything in the Southside. Right in the middle, on the 28th block, is the Milk Shake Factory – a Southside staple and family-owned Pittsburgh business that has been passed down through generations.
A Sunday Afternoon Treat
The first thing I notice walking into the Milkshake Factory is the crowd. At 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, there is a line wrapped up and down in aisles almost to the door. Families with children eagerly wait for their milkshake. Millennials put down their phones long enough to eye the candy bar and menu. Older couples, bikers, and big groups of friends have all gathered, begging for a chocolate treat.
It’s obvious then that everyone the Southside attracts has one thing in common – they all love milkshakes.If you like #milkshakes, you've got to visit #Pittsburgh. Here's why. Click To Tweet
Soda Fountain Beginnings
The Milk Shake Factory, a part of the Edward Marc Brand, has a long history with Pittsburgh. In 1914, Greek immigrants Charlie and Orania Sarandou settled in Pittsburgh and founded a small soda fountain in Pittsburgh’s Victorian Southside. At the time, with limited refrigeration available, a milkshake was truly a treat for the entire family.
Throughout the next 102 years, the business expanded to include not only the Milk Shake Factory but also Snappers Chocolate and Edward Marc Chocolatier, while still remaining a family-centered Pittsburgh business.
As my friend and I wait in line for nearly half an hour, I take in the storefront. It’s small with extremely limited seating. The meaning is obvious: “get your shake and go.”
Despite this, the atmosphere itself is still welcoming. Chocolate treats are displayed on the front counter. There is everything from gourmet chocolate to chocolate-covered bacon from the Edward Marc Chocolatier company. Packaged treats from the Snappers brand line the back wall. My sweet tooth craves one of everything, but I force myself to stick with what we came here for: the milkshakes, though I allow myself a chocolate-covered bacon topping.
No Powder Mix Here
Overwhelmed by all of the options for milkshakes, I stick with my typical choice – whatever has the most chocolate in it. In this case, that’s the Chocolate Chocolate. Two sips in and I can tell exactly why the line has now reached the door. I am by no means a milkshake snob, but when the Milk Shake Factory says they make milk shakes, they mean it. Real, rich, creamy shakes that can barely make it through a straw. There are no mediocre powdered sugar or Hershey’s chocolate syrup shakes here.
As I sip my shake, watching the black and white episode of I Love Lucy playing in the background, I can’t help but think of how the business grew from two immigrants and a soda fountain to one of the most visited spots in Pittsburgh’s hip neighborhood, all with the same recipe and the same family.#Bacon covered #chocolate in a milkshake? It's exists in #Pittsburgh! Click To Tweet
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