For more than 20 years, Rick Jergel and his brothers, Hank and Tim, ran the well-known Jergel’s restaurant and music venue on Babcock Boulevard in the North Hills.
Despite their success, Jergel said that by 2006, he and his brothers were ready for a change. With relaxation on their minds, they sold the restaurant.
“We just wanted a break,” he said.
It didn’t last long. As it turned out, Jergel missed the restaurant and music business too much to stay away forever.
Partnering with experienced restaurateur Ron Sofranko, Jergel in late February opened the Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale.
Formerly a health club, the sprawling 20,000 square-foot, two-story structure is a combination live music venue and restaurant that serves up a full menu while rocking out guests. Among the amenities are a stage, a large dance floor, two different bars, a VIP room, and a separate cigar bar. In the summer, there also will be outdoor seating.
Marshall Township resident Sofranko, who has opened 22 restaurants and is a partner at Walnut Grove, is the facility’s general manager, while Jergel, of Cranberry, calling on his extensive music background, acts as executive producer.
“This was kind of a perfect fit,” Sofranko said.
The partners said they spent three years and several million dollars searching for the right venue in the Cranberry area and then transforming it into a regional entertainment venue.
Sofranko said both he and Jergel wanted to be north of Pittsburgh because there were no live music venues in the area. By opening Jergel’s in a location that’s easily accessible from Route 19, Interstate 79 and the turnpike, the partners also hope the venue will attract people from across the Greater Pittsburgh area.
“We’re excited about it,” Sofranko said.
Sofranko said he and Jergel even studied the Cranberry Plan — a comprehensive plan that maps out the township’s future — which shows that area residents desire an entertainment complex in the area that features music. He also noted the high number of hotels in the area full of people searching for a place to be entertained while they’re in town.
“We did our homework,” Jergel added. “I think there was a need for this kind of venue. There’s really no place else like it for live entertainment.”
The research paid off.
In its opening weekend, the partners said, Jergel’s was so packed they had to make people wait outside until the red-carpeted entrance until the venue was no longer at capacity. During busy times, they also offer a shuttle service to take customers back and forth between the complex and a nearby park-and-ride lot.
The venue also will feature various music and entertainment acts up to seven nights a week, including national touring bands. Last Wednesday, Jergel’s played host to Eden’s Edge, a country group from Nashville that is one of the opening acts for the Rascal Flatts summer tour.
On Saturday, Bruce Springsteen collaborator Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers will pay a visit to Jergel's. On St. Patrick’s Day, perennial Pittsburgh favorite No Bad Ju Ju will perform at the venue. For a full list of upcoming shows, click here.
After years in the making, Sofranko said he and Jergel are thrilled to finally bring Jergel’s Rhythm Grille to the area.
“We’re having a blast,” he said.