Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 in Pittsburgh to be remodeled as it remains closed

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The North Shore’s Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 has remained closed since March, but Steelers Nation is in no danger of losing the restaurant and bar in the shadow of Heinz Field.

A substantial remodel will begin in February with a tentative reopening date of April 1, according to Howard Shiller, managing partner of the Bettis Grille and president of the spot’s parent company, Celebrity Ventures Inc.

“It is unfortunate that we can’t have games like we used to, but it’s important to keep everyone safe and sound during the pandemic,” Bettis said. “When life returns back to normal, we can all go back to enjoying football like we all used to.”

Shiller said the Bettis Grille’s business model requires it to function at 75% capacity for a financially worthwhile reopening — a goal he hopes to reach in April, coordinated with the beginning of the Pirates season.

“We figured now is the best time to do it because, with capacities only being at 50% and limited activity on the North Shore, we’d lose more money being open than if we stayed closed,” said Shiller, whose company also owns Eddie George’s Grille 27 in Columbus, Ohio.

Bettis is excited about the remodel.

“I am grateful for all the support the Steelers Nation has given me over the years,” said Bettis, who has a licensing and royalty partnership with the restaurant. “I’m very proud to have one of the longest-standing restaurants on the North Shore that people enjoy coming to before and after games and anytime during the week to enjoy with family and friends.”

The planned interior design additions will include a floor-to-ceiling Heinz Field mural, a trophy wall with replicas of the six Lombardi trophies earned by the Steelers franchise and a replica Hall of Fame Jerome Bettis bust. Other indoor upgrades include new flooring, wall-coverings, bar-top and lighting updates as well as a complete HVAC system replacement and audio/visual improvements.

Windows with functional, opening panels will link the indoor atmosphere to the outside. Sail shade-style patio coverings and table umbrellas will be added to outdoor seating. Couches, a gazebo bar and fire pits will further add form and function to the outdoor place. A large flat-screen TV will replace the Bettis mural that currently decorates the restaurant’s entrance.

Bettis’ business manager Jahmal Dokes said several factors went into the decision to keep the restaurant closed for now.

“Because the Steelers didn’t go to the playoffs [last season], that hampered the restaurant financially because they weren’t playing football in January like they normally are,” said Dokes. “In March, covid hit and the basketball season got hit. March Madness is a huge stopgap between the start of baseball and the end of football.”

A new menu is also in the works, though those changes aren’t final.

Bettis’ post-NFL life is spent with his wife, Trameka, and their two children Jada, 16, and Jerome Jr., 14, in Atlanta. The family has lived there since Bettis retired as a Steeler. His connection to Steelers Nation is still thriving, through weekly appearances on WPXI’s Jerome Bettis Show and the restaurant.

“We love the restaurant. We think it brings character to the North Shore,” said Dokes, speaking for himself and Bettis. “It’s a fabric of the community. We love having it over there.”