THE RED DOOR
An Historical Memoir of the Squirrel Hill Cafe
by Jan Cavrak & Leslie Mcilroy
ISBN: 978-1-59948-838-7, ~150 pages, 7 X 10 hardback, $45 (+ shipping)
Projected Release Date: November, 2020
An Advance Sale Discount price of $31.95 (+ shipping) will expire 10/4.
The check price of $38/book for advance sales will also expire 10/4. Check price for orders received after that date will increase to $45/book–shipping/tax included.
If paying by check, please send to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001.
PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.
The Red Door — An Historical Memoir of Pittsburgh’s Iconic Squirrel Hill Cafe
The Red Door is not just a memoir, although it is told primarily through the eyes of Jan Cavrak, who has worked at Pittsburgh’s historic Squirrel Hill Cafe (affectionately known as The Cage) for nearly 40 years. It is an exploration of what transforms a public space into a tangible community. It ponders the oeuvre — what collectively makes a space a destination — why people from all walks of life converge under a roof to celebrate the small ways they can be comforted, celebrated, challenged voiced and heard. For years
The book shares personal memories from patrons and personnel alike, across the spectrum: friendship and anger, marriage and divorce, love and longing, hunger and humor, homeless and home, especially home. If anything comes through the work of capturing individual moments and experiences at The Squirrel Hill Cafe, it is the clichéd notion of a “home away from home,” a safe and welcoming place.
Regulars, “newbies,” residents and passer-byers all gather every day of the week — planned or unplanned — to affirm a necessary sense of belonging. No judgment, no motives, no need to engage or disengage. A diverse community of Pittsburghers who share The Cage as their common denominator.
The book was written over three years of intimate collaboration between Pittsburgh natives Jan Cavrak and writer, Leslie Anne Mcilroy, who bartended at The Cage for almost 10 years in the 1980s/90s.
It also contains a wealth of photographs that help bring the reader into the ambiance and multeity of The Cage experience, including name-droppable contributors like novelist Stuart O’Nan, reporter Eric Heyl, producer Minette Seate and a tribute to the missed and memorialized Anthony Bourdain, who visited The Cage a year before he passed to film his Pittsburgh version of Parts Unknown.
Which brings us to the food (kind of) — a menu that has long served the Pittsburgh community well: burgers and hot balls, fries and chicken wings, the historic omelets and Lord knows, the sardines and hard-boiled eggs, all a decadent spread; the flavors of history and hallowedness that satisfies the hunger of The Cage appetite.
Finally, we invite you into an unsolicited chapter of testimonials (“A Page in the Cage”): first-hand accounts of everything from fights and fervor, workings and shortcomings, day-to-day struggles, conflicts, people (beautiful and bastard), all the making of an iconic Pittsburgh institution that continues to thrive. How? Because, according to Jan, what really makes The Cage The Cage, is everyone who walks through The Red Door. A community of lovers and seekers, losers and dreamers, doers and decadents. Welcome home!