If you have ever met Kelly O, you know she’s a tiny Pittsburgh Irish native packed with a big personality.
What you may not know is the story behind her determination and how she became the Kelly O Pittsburghers know and love. Growing up in Warrendale, Pa. in a family of 6 kids, Kelly O’Connor was a hard worker starting her first job as a catering assistant at the Camelot. There she found her love for watching people break bread as a celebration of one another. From there, she found jobs as a server, bartender, manager at many restaurants you know and love. In the time before she purchased the flagship location in the North Hills, Kelly O was bartending in the Strip District. As a single, widowed mother she found that the environment wasn’t right for her and raising two young kids. One morning she woke up and asked about buying the North Hills location, made an offer and took over on October 31, 2001.
In the years following Kelly O built her legacy, on foot. Handing out pens, business cards, and bumper stickers to whoever would take them. She was always first one in and last one to leave, making updates to her little diner and brainstorming future ventures. After many successful live cooking spots on Pittsburgh Today Live, she gained the attention of Guy Fieri of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. Kelly O’s Diner was featured on a 2009 episode, “Regional Classics”, and her self-made spotlight grew brighter. With her children alongside her, Kelly O continued to serve up the community and took over the corner of 24th & Smallman in Pittsburgh’s beloved Strip District in 2012.
Many years later, she’s still a household name in the Burgh’ and Nationwide. We promise, you can see her working at either location most any day of the week and as always she will be handing out those pens, business cards, and bumper stickers for you to remember your favorite little Diner (and Diner Family!) by.