Andy and Bill Mortallaro have been operating the Askew Inn for over half a century. Founded in 1954, the quaint neighborhood joint with tobacco stained drop ceiling tiles, domestic lagers, and cocktail mixers has been an iconic place to trade neighborhood stories with a host of the Askew Inn regulars.
Over the years, numerous community events have been held in the tavern including the inaugural Northeast Chamber Beans, Beads and Booze Fat Tuesday fundraiser. The billiards table and jukebox still sit in the bar, but the shuffleboard table that once graced the front wall is gone. Charlie Bruscato, a local Elvis impersonator would often stop by some evenings to entertain guests.
Askew Inn was originally located half a block to the east at 3618 Independence Avenue. Andy and Bill’s uncle, Anthony Mortallaro, opened the Askew Inn in 1954. His brother partnered with him a few years later, before Andy and Bill joined the staff. By 1965, Andy bought his uncle out of Askew Inn, and Bill bought their father out in 1991. Together, Andy and Bill Mortallaro built the Askew Inn at 3600 Independence Avenue in 1992, which was formerly the site of Wayne’s Mobil Station.
Andy and Bill have seen a lot of changes in Northeast and on Independence Avenue over the decades. Andy remembers businesses that have come and gone from Independence Avenue, like Bill Groaners garage that was located directly behind the present site or Hader’s Poultry that used to be across the street.
“They had live chickens running around and you could buy one and they’d pick it up and break its neck right there while you waited,” Andy said.
Many of their customers have been coming in for decades, and still travel back to Northeast to visit the bar. Bill and Andy sold the property in August, and plan on enjoying their retirement. Saturday, September 12, the neon beer signs, some that have hung in The Askew for decades, were turned off for the last time. Another chapter of Independence Avenue history has come to a close.