While wandering through the Borough of West View, younger Pittsburghers or those new to the area may wonder why there is a carousel horse on top of the West View Plaza Shopping Center sign.
West View is proud of its heritage as the site of West View Park, which operated its last Dips roller coaster ride in September of 1977 after over 70 years in business. The amusement park had a hard time recovering after Danceland, which hosted the then-unknown Rolling Stones in 1964, burned down in 1973.
Today, West View is home to approximately 6,450 residents and a variety of businesses in a 1.3 square mile radius, from a bridal shop to a pinball museum to several restaurants, multiple auto body shops, medical practices, banks, a supermarket, a chocolate factory and retail store, a barber shop with an old-fashioned barber’s pole, a bicycle shop and more.
Blueberry Pharmacy is one of the newest businesses to open in West View, just a few days before the pandemic shutdown last March. The pharmacy operates with a unique business model: it does not take insurance. By eliminating the insurance company as a middleman, owner Kyle McCormick passes along great savings to his customers by charging only a small yet fair markup.
McCormick was familiar with West View, as his in-laws live in the borough. He was prompted to open his business in West View as it is an older, middle-class demographic who he believed could benefit economically from a pharmacy structured like Blueberry. “These are the patients I could help the most,” he said, adding that he also serves customers from all over the city and has a delivery service as well.
McCormick jokingly calls West View the ‘donut hole’ of Ross Township, as it cannot be accessed without going through Ross. Although he’s one of the newer kids on the block, he has made an effort to try to get to know other business owners, and he likes his new surroundings.
“I think it’s growing, in terms of opportunity and improvement to the area. There are a lot of fun events, the cost of living is still low, and there’s business movement, too, so that is exciting,” said McCormick.
PerryWorks, the brainchild of Brandon Craig, is another relative newcomer to the area. Craig, who owns a software company and wanted to expand, happened upon a vacant building in West View and decided to turn it into a co-working space where people can rent private offices or flex desks. “All co-workers have access to free coffee and tea, and there is a café for items to purchase,” he said, adding that the free parking in the back is a nice perk.
Though Craig looked at other neighborhoods, he chose West View. “We liked the location; it’s only a couple of minutes from 279, 20 minutes from Cranberry, 10 minutes to downtown, and 10 minutes to anywhere on McKnight. It’s a nice little community with access to a lot of things, and the opportunity happened to be a perfect fit for us,” he said.
Though it does attract new shops and restaurants, West View is also served by long-time businesses. In 1955, Ken Scholl’s parents opened up Scholl’s Bicycle Center in West View; Scholl’s father grew up in the area. The bike store, which also doubles as a full-service bicycle repair and tune-up shop, draws customers in from all over the city and neighboring counties.
Scholl said that the borough has a mix of newer and older businesses, and that the business owners are supportive of each other. “The business climate goes up and down. Since they redid West View and fixed it up, businesses have been thriving fairly well,” he said. Like many people with memories of West View, he owns a piece of the past—an old bench from Danceland.
A good place to see photos and other memorabilia of West View Park is at I.S.A.L.Y.’S. The restaurant is another nod to Pittsburgh’s past, though the current owners are not affiliated with the original Isaly’s corporation, known for its skyscraper ice cream cones, invention of the Klondike bar, and chipped chopped ham. Though the interior of the diner has an old-fashioned vibe, complete with the original tin ceilings and a two-toned checkered floor, the spelling of the restaurant is intentionally spelled with periods after each letter, standing for I Shall Always Love You, Sweetie.
Co-owner Sue Affolder said that the shop is something of a landmark in the area. “When we bought the business, we inherited the customers that have been coming for years, who tell stories about their families, about West View Park, and how it was a gathering place after school,” she said.
Affolder enjoys being part of the borough and felt very welcome when she bought the restaurant, though she does still see room for improvement. “There’s a lot of vacant properties and it needs a little bit of new life,” she said, noting that people are starting to move into the area, particularly into the new homes built on the site of the now-closed Highland Country Club. She pointed to West View Hub—a combination library and food pantry—that is doing good things for the community.
Another business selling happiness is Betsy Ann Chocolates. James Paras’ family acquired it from the original owner, Betsy Ann herself, in 1967. Betsy Ann Chocolates is located on the horseshoe bend, a distinctive characteristic of West View. The store, replete with truffles and other mouthwatering chocolate delights, is right next door to the factory. Though other retailers in the tristate region also carry Betsy Ann Chocolates, there is something special about going right to the source where the magic happens.
Paras said that what distinguishes the West View business community is the number of businesses that are dedicated to making high quality products.
“People are friendly, and there’s some cool businesses—it’s a fun, small suburb,” said McCormick of reasons to visit.
“It’s a really nice little area,” added Paras. “People that live here tend to take good care of the area and have for many, many, many years. It’s a safe little community, and it’s just outside the city.”