Someone Else’s Bar
When Else Franzmann is asked where she is from, she is quick to say, “I’m from everywhere and nowhere. I never really had a hometown.”
Else lived in five different places before she was 10, her family never sinking roots. After her first job, she moved seven times in 10 years. Later, she started tending bar, the kind of job that could follow her anywhere—perfect for the life that she knew.
At a dive in California, where a scattering of young Marines from Camp Pendleton sat at the bar most nights, Else discovered that she had a knack for marketing and management.
“There were two bars up the road, popular with the local young women, and that’s where most Marines went to dance and talk and unwind,” she says. “I knew I had to try something different.”
Adding her own touch, she placed bowls of candy—Twizzlers, BlowPops, Tootsie Rolls and other favorites—around the bar and at every table. Business increased by 40 percent in the first year.
“The women started coming for the candy and the Marines followed the women. Plus, candy just makes people happy.”
After moving to Pittsburgh, closer to her mother, brother and his family, those touches remained a part of her “someday” business plan, if she ever had her own bar. Bartending again, this time in Castle Shannon, Else began to settle in for once, so she cried when she learned the popular bar would close.
“I knew I had to figure out how to buy it, and eventually I did. And since I was always working for someone else, I knew that if I ever had my own place, I would call it Someone Else’s.” Luckily, she has that first name going for her, too.
The bar business has been so good that the “beer of the month” now lasts about five days. “But pretty much everybody comes into here to eat, too,” Else says. As the menu states, “Our food is made fresh. This isn’t fast food, this isn’t your run of the mill.”
There are 15 soups on a three-week rotation. Lemon cod soup, with rice, celery and fresh lemon, sells out every time. Gumbo and turkey corn soups are favorites, too. And black bean Angus beef chili is offered daily.
Every Tuesday is burger night, and eight bucks will get you a half-pound Angus beef patty with three toppings, such as an egg, a potato pancake, sweet potato fries, sauerkraut, bacon and all the cheeses.
The “Fabulous Fish,” a deep-fried 10-inch North Atlantic cod filet, is dipped in Smithwick Irish Ale beer batter. Other sandwiches include Reubens and Rachels, cheese steaks and “The Viking,” two deep-fried chicken breasts smothered in Buffalo sauce on a roll.
There are salads, quesadillas and wraps, all with veggies only or with chicken, steak, shrimp or salmon. A grilled veggie quesadilla is a headliner, with fresh peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomato and queso sauce.
The food alone would be enough to guarantee success, but there is a lot more going on here. There are those magical jars of candy and flowers, and toys and games are scattered about. Tchotchkes abound, including a table of Else’s skull-themed collectibles.
Else greets most of her customers by name, but even first-timers feel right at home. She fills the immaculate restrooms with fancy hand soaps, and on the back deck, she has installed large chalkboards for the kids. Or they can stay happy blowing bubbles; all the stuff is there.
Else’s F-250 pick-up truck, big enough so that she can plow her own parking lot, sits out back. It is emblazoned with her logo, but it is her business motto that rings true: “Food, Drinks, Candy. Why go anywhere else?”
As for life, Else bought her first home in Castle Shannon recently. The wanderlust gone, she stays close to family, especially her two nieces. She finally found her neighborhood, her neighborhood joint and her hometown. Sweet.