Galleria Mall in Mt. Lebanon place of memories

VisaThere are many shopping malls in the Pittsburgh area, but for the past 27 years, The Galleria Shopping Mall in Mt. Lebanon has been providing consumers with a unique, luxury atmosphere, complete with stores selling everything from clothing to chocolate to hardware. The Mall is also home to a variety of eateries and a movie theater.

The Mall has also been part of the fabric of the community and has been the site of many events.

The Galleria Mall was first opened in 1965 with Pittsburgh icon Kaufmann’s Department Store as its flagship store on August 3, 1965.

On that day, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 9:55 a.m. and doors officially opened for the first time at 10 a.m. At the time, there were three levels of free parking, space enough for 900 automobiles. Inside Kaufmann’s, there was an eatery named the Tic-Toc Restaurant, a salon named Adoria Beauty Salon and a tire center – one stop shopping in an era when that concept was still novel.

Kaufmann’s remained part of The Galleria until August of 1987 when they relocated down the road to South Hills Village Mall. This departure proved fortuitous for the future of The Galleria, as developer Richard Zappala had an idea to retain the shell of the former Kaufmann’s and design a shopping experience “patterned after the original Galleria, a 19th century market in Milan, Italy,” he said. (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 14, 1988.)

The new Galleria Mall had its official grand opening on March 3, 1989. At the time, 19 of 65 planned stores were open in the space.

Zappala’s original concept for The Galleria had always included plans for a movie theater and on June 15, that dream became a reality with the opening of the Galleria Theater. The first film screened in the theater was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Ownership of the Mall changed over the next 27 years. Presently, it is owned and operated by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The theater briefly closed in January 2014 and reopened in April of that same year after an extensive remodel by owners Carmike Cinemas. The ticket booth was removed, with patrons now purchasing their tickets at the concession stand. Since the remodel, the theater has become a favorite of local moviegoers.

“We love the great seating, and sound and picture quality,” said Bethel Park residents Tom and Shelia Hogben. “It’s the only theater we’ll go to now.”

“Galleria Six greatly improved after the remodel,” said Dave Ingold, a resident of West Mifflin. “The seats are very comfortable, everything is clean and modern and my girlfriend likes that they serve alcohol now. In addition to the blockbuster films you’d expect to find, they also have [more difficult] to find fare.”

In early 2015, a film titled Let it Snow began filming in the Pittsburgh area. Featuring an all-star cast including John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Alan Alan Arkin, Marissa Tomei – just to name a few – the film was set on Christmas Eve. Released in November of 2015, the film – now titled Love the Coopers – shot all the scenes taking place in a mall in both The Galleria Mall and Century III Mall in West Mifflin. A special premiere party was held at Galleria Cinemas. Love the Coopers is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, as well as on demand.

Other successful events have been held at the Mall, including art shows, junior chess tournaments, luxury car shows, canine fashion shows, and even a “Mahjong Fun Day” where one of the prizes awarded was the title of Ms. Mahjong 2016.

“The Galleria in Mount Lebanon is a unique center,” said General Manager Gina Mercorelli, “I love that the community feels so comfortable here. We take pride in our place in the neighborhood.”

FMI on events, galleriapgh.com or  facebook.com/GalleriaMtLebanon.

Story by Chuck Brutz for Pennsylvania Bridges