Tavern owners celebrate community, honor their own

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When is a pig roast more than a pig roast? When it’s been going on for nine years, when it’s supported by not only the patrons of the neighborhood bar that hosts it, but also by local politicians and community activists of the caliber of Rick Adams, dean of Students at Homewood Campus of CCAC; (who was the emcee for the program) and when the municipal departments get involved.

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SPECIAL AWARD—Larry Mitchell, right gives Lottie Edwards, wearing hat, a special award as others look on.

Fire trucks came to the street at 8 a.m. to clean the streets, the police blocked off Montezuma to keep participants safe—and when two and three generations of community members come together for fun, food, fellowship, but even more so when the hosts recognize the work of notable individuals who have made an impact in the community and honor them with plaques. This is when a pig roast is more than just a pig roast.

When 73-year-old Larry Mitchell and Lottie Edwards, owners of Cheers Tavern, decided nine years ago to show their community that they were good neighbors, little did they know that the event would grow and turn into an opportunity to recognize individuals in the community. Unlike other award programs, recognizing people is usually associated with a “ticket price” sometime as high as $125 and is usually an effort to fundraise. Additionally, the honorees sometime have to find sponsors; and solicit all their friends and families to purchase a ticket and attend the event. Not so with the annual celebration at Cheers where everything is given away, more than 300 people feast on sumptuous picnic fare including a 200-lb. pig, and the honor they give to key individuals can be witnessed by all at no cost.

This year’s honorees were Judge Joseph Williams; the Hon. Joe Preston Jr.; Sala Udin, executive director of Coros; Rick Adams, Hop Kendrick, and in a surprise move, Larry arranged to have a plaque presented to Lottie for her work beside him over these years, and her commitment to excellence, as well. All the honorees were on hand, and each spoke of the pride and esteem they felt at receiving such an honor.

Because of the relationships they’ve created over the year,s Larry and Lottie had support this year from Daily Orange Juice, who contributed 40 cases of juice for the children and teetotalers, plus Budweiser, Coors and Millers, as well as Belmont Amusements, provided give- aways and prizes for raffles. The relationships the two have with patrons also reaped them devoted people who want to contribute to the day and were willing to make the sacrifice. “Clevon Johnson said, “I’ve been up since 10:30 last night. I am going to stay around until it is time to clean up. If I can come down here and drink, and can’t stay and help put this thing together, then what kind of friend am I. We love what Larry and Lottie do here, I can sleep after we break down—that is time enough.”

Mitchell, born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Uptown area of the city, formerly called Soho, comes from a family of six brothers and six sisters. He said his roots in the community is what he brings to make this event what it has come to be. Edwards said, “This is not a marketing tool for us, we have plenty of customers, including folks that have been here the entire time with us. We just want to be a positive force in the neighborhood to everyone who patronizes our place and those who don’t.”

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