PITTSBURGH - On Monday evening, November 26, the Priory Hotel and Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory celebrated 25 years of service to western Pennsylvania and their place in revitalizing Pittsburgh's historic Deutschtown neighborhood. And, after hosting more than 215,000 overnight guests, 650 wedding receptions and countless memories, they are looking forward to celebrating their next chapter.
Over 250 neighborhood friends joined in the fun. Dignitaries attending included Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Jeanne Caliguiri, wife of the late Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri. Both Mayors Ravenstahl and Caliguiri were instrumental in helping with the revitalization of the Priory and Pittsburgh's Deutschtown neighborhood. The free public event was a huge success with donations made in support of the Homeless Children's Education Fund and the National Aviary.
"My family and I are extremely proud to have been part of the North Side community for 25 years," said Priory Hospitality Group co-owner and Director of Operations John Graf. "We've done well over the years, and have grown our business, but what's been most gratifying is being part of the renaissance of the North Side and its continual improvement, growth and exciting future."
A few of the many awards the Priory Hospitality Group has earned over the past 25 years include: Pittsburgh Magazine "Best Restaurant" Award (Banquet Hall) – 2011 & 2012; "Best of Knot" Wedding Venue by TheKnot.com - 2007-Present; Bronze Medal Winner, Bike Friendly Business, American League of Cyclists - June 2012; Winner – U.S. Small Business Administration Family Owned Business Award – May 2011; "Best Established Business," North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce – 2010; "Community Greening Award" to Priory's Laura's Blumengarten by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – 2009; "A Hotels.com Top Ten Hidden Gem" – 2008; "Top Ranked Hotel, City of Pittsburgh," by Zagat Survey of Hotels, Spas and Resorts – 1999.
What is now the Priory Hotel and Grand Hall at the Priory (then St. Mary's German Catholic Church and Priory) had been acquired by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation from the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the 1970s. The buildings were closed in 1981 and were slated to be demolished to make way for the planned I-279. Due to the efforts of a dedicated group of citizens striving to save the nearby St. Boniface Church from a similar fate, the highway was re-routed and the Priory and Grand Hall were saved. Ed and Mary Ann Graf purchased the buildings from PennDOT at auction in 1984, and in 1987 transformed the St. Mary's Priory into The Priory – A City Inn, a 25-room boutique hotel. In 1995, the Grafs, in partnership with their son John and his wife Suzanne, transformed the church building into a spectacular room for banquets and celebrations, and in November 1995 the Grand Hall at the Priory opened for business. In 2009, the Grafs acquired a fire-damaged apartment building next to the Priory Hotel, tore it down and built a stunning 17-room addition to the Priory Hotel which opened on December 31, 2010.