After 76 years, last call draws near for bartender

Tue Sep 1, 2009 11:30am EDT
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By Jonathan Barnes

PITTSBURGH (Reuters Life!) - Pittsburgh bartender Angelo Cammarata served his first beer a few minutes after Prohibition was lifted in 1933. Soon he will serve his last.

The 95-year-old, who is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest-serving bartender, only had one break in his career -- to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

When Prohibition ended he was working in his family's shop in Pittsburgh's North Side, selling 10-cent bottles of Fort Pitt Beer just past the stroke of midnight. He was 19, liquor laws were few, and patrons stood on the sidewalk, beers in hands.

"We had about 20 men standing outside waiting for us to open," Cammarata said. "That was the beginning of something."

The business sold 12 cases of beer in its first two hours.

Soon Cammarata will give his last call at Cammarata's Cafe in Pittsburgh's West View section, though an exact date has not been determined.

His sons Frank and John, who own the bar, have sold the place and are waiting for state liquor control board approval of transfer of the liquor license, which was one of the first bought in Pittsburgh prior to Prohibition's repeal.

Cammarata and the cafe, which was started as Cammarata's Grocery by his immigrant father and relocated to West View borough in 1954, are local institutions. Despite his age, he still works three to four-hour shifts daily at the small neighborhood bar.   Continued...

<p>Pittsburgh bartender Angelo Cammarata serves beer at Cammarata's Cafe in Pittsburgh's West View section, August 31, 2009. REUTERS/John Altdorfer</p>