To say that a dive bar received criticism for being “too dark” sure feels like someone missed the point of such an establishment, but such is the origin story of Bob’s Garage in Pittsburgh. Because the building that houses the Pittsburgh dive bar has no windows, complaints started to roll in during the 1970s about the dim lighting within the space. To remedy the situation, Bob Paganico, who worked his way up from bartending at Bob’s Garage before eventually becoming the full owner of the Pittsburgh dive, purchased a couple thousand dollars’ worth of holiday decorations and lights to liven up the space.
Since that time, the collection of lights and decorations has ballooned to an estimated $20,000 worth of materials and over 10,000 lights. At one point, the lighting display changed throughout the year, including a tiki-inspired setup during summer months, but the unquestioned star was always the holiday theme rolled out around Christmas, leading to the bar leaving holiday lights up year-round.
Underneath the lights and decorations, Bob’s Garage is a classic dive bar in the Blawnox neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a local staple now easy to spot thanks to the permanently affixed decorations around the exterior. Bob’s Garage doubles as one of Pittsburgh’s most fun karaoke nights, running Wednesday through Saturday, an experience amid the relentless light and reflective material inside.