Sunday, July 6, 2008

A legend passes on...Ode to Froggy's

I'm sorry to report that I learned this week of the passing of Steve "Froggy" Morris, owner and proprietor of the former popular First Avenue watering hole, "Froggy's". Though the tavern closed many years ago, the death of Froggy closes a chapter in Pittsburgh that probably won't be ever opened again. Just about every designer, art director and more than a couple of photographers called Froggy's their place of doing business on Friday nights and at lunch time. I spent many enjoyable evenings talking with clients and others in the advertising business. What was interesting, was that by and large we never spent much time talking about "the business", but spent more time getting to know each other on a personal basis, learned about our families and extended friends and learned about life as we grew up through the years. Martinis and beers were downed, a little lamenting over the "good old days", but most of all a positive outlook for tomorrow and A LOT of laughs. Once I took a photographer friend of mine visiting from NYC in on a Friday night. He thought I was the mayor of Pittsburgh and was stunned that I knew so many people and shook so many hands before we even reached the third floor. Of course, Froggy was one of the first to greet me when I walked through the door...That is just the kind of place that Steve built...My NYC friend, simply wasn't used to seeing that kind of friendliness when he walked into a bar in Manhattan.

Froggy always welcomed everyone where he maintained his post at the round table once you got in the door. The bartenders and wait staff were the best in the business. Unlike most places where staff turn over happens on a weekly basis, the staff at Froggy's worked there for years. That in itself, is a tribute to how Steve Morris treated his employees and customers. Those familiar with his place knew that on Friday nights the three floors of the old building would be hopping. The joke was the older you got, you started hanging on the lower floors, either because you couldn't walk up the steps or you might look too pervy checking out all the beautiful young women who hung on the third floor and rooftop deck. In any case patrons from 21-81 all hung there and all got along great. Since the tavern closed, nothing in PIttsburgh even has come close to the ambiance that Froggy's had. Maybe I'm getting a little older, or maybe people just don't care to enjoy conversation all that much when they have texting and email, I dunno...but I'm a little sad that little piece of heaven doesn't exist downtown anymore.

Froggy, I wish you a great after life. Somewhere I know you are watching all of this with some amusement smoking a cigar and drinking a cocktail. I look forward to seeing you again and get a martini glass chilled for me :-)


Trish Morris said...

Hi Mark,

I'm Trish Morris, Froggy's wife. I just now read your very kind words about Steve and just wanted to say thank you. I feel the same way and much, much more.

A Very Blessed Holiday Season to You and Yours,


Ray Galindo said...

It's been years since I spent time at Froggy's. Most of the time I spent at my buddies place the 1902 just down the street. The first time I that I went to Froggy's was 1983. I walked in with my client Gabe Rivera the Steelers number one draft choice. Steve recoginized us and greeted us like old friends. He introduced us to a couple of guys that he was sitting with at his table. It turned out to be Eddie De Bartelo and Paul Martha. We sat with them having a few beers the rest of the evening...One thing that still hauts me of that night...Eddie said that he came very close to drafting Gabe Rivera...Now I have always wondered how that would have changed many things in a few lifes...Rest in peace "Froggy"
Ray Galindo

Anonymous said...

My name is Greta Thomas. The last time that I was in Pittsburgh I was a manager at Kaufmanns Dept. Store in Charleston, WV. I was in town for a seminar that in 1987. I have just learned the news of the loss of a great man. Steve "Froggy" Morris was a unique person. Needless to say, his creation Froggys was just as unigue. I have traveled all over and anytime someone would make a comment about Pittsburgh, the subject of Froggys would come up. How great the atmosphere, how if more places were like it, that was the comments from each one of those people. I think the stressful world we live in today needs a place just like that, and I have yet to find it on that scale of the magic and the peronality that only Froggys had. I think it would help people to realize that slowing down just to communicate with different walks of life with a smile, a handshake, kind word, with no expectations or judgement, everyone were on the same playing field, is the best medicine. Just knowing you are in an environment like that which was Froggys. Some how even for the first time, you had ever been in that place, you would feel like you were welcome. It was in the air. This is my memory and I know I can speak for many others, it is the one thing when you think of over the years you can't help but smile inside. It had a personality of its own, (magical). That is the gift that was left for all of us. Thank you Steve!! You will always be alive as long as there are any of us left on this earth that was blessed to meet you and Live the spirit of Froggys. I send my condolences to tje family, and I know that he was not alone in his journey, so thanks to you too.

March 27, 2009

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