McMurray Dairy Bar changes ownership

Published Feb 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm (Updated Feb 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm)

After decades of ownership by the Duckworth family, the McMurray Dairy Bar and Market in Peters Township changed ownership Feb. 10, being purchased by another family that also has decades of expertise in the grocery business.

Some patrons who walked through the automatic doors after the sale may not have noticed any difference, with the exception of some new employee faces, name tags that display the name Heisler’s Market, and various pickup trucks in the parking lot owned by workmen helping to make the switch go smoothly.

Ed Heisler, a co-owner with this son, also named Ed Heisler, was busy the morning of Feb. 10, signing work orders, greeting customers and taking several deep breaths as he surveyed the newest store owned by the Heisler family.

Several days before ownership changed, rumors were running rampant about the fate of the store, usually referred to as the Dairy Bar, a staple at the corner of East McMurray and Valley Brook roads. The store’s famous baked ham lunch meat was flying out of the deli counter the week before the sale on rumors the store was closing. Not so, Heisler said a few hours after the store opened Feb. 10. The baked ham and other products associated with the Dairy Bar will be stocked, he assured.

“People need this and it’s a lot more convenient than driving to Route 19,” Heisler said. He owns a Shop ‘N Save in Carrick, his sister owns a Shop ‘N Save in Mt. Lebanon, and the family has been in the grocery business with a “mom and pop” store since the 1950s. In fact, Heisler said, his mother met his dad in one of the stores.

“We love food,” Heisler said as a smile spread across his face.

The sale was not a quick decision by previous owners Gary and Carol Duckworth. Talks began about a year ago, Heisler said, so the couple could retire and relax. Unfortunately, Carol Duckworth died Jan. 31, 10 days before the sale was complete.

Although not in the Duckworth family, the Dairy Bar will remain in the hands of another family. Heisler’s son, Ed Heisler, will be a familiar face in the Dairy Bar. Ed Heisler the father has a daughter who is a student at California University of Pennsylvania, and another son who is a student at a podiatry college in Florida.

For now, the store will remain pretty much as it has for decades. The hot food counter will be open with its famous wings and chicken and other hot foods to eat in or to take out. The deli will carry the famous baked ham with additional Boar’s Head products stocked in the near future, said the younger Ed Heisler.

Bethel Bakery and Breadworks items will be available for sale.

John Walsh, owner of the Bethel Bakery, said the Heislers toured the bakery in January.

“They were very anxious to continue the relationship,” Walsh said. The bakery has supplied the Dairy Bar with baked goods since 2002.

“After the first delivery (in 2002), Carol offered us a second display case,” Walsh said. Grocery staples, like milk, eggs and other necessary food items will be found on the shelves. Eventually, Ed Heisler the father said, plans call for expanding the produce selection, the addition of gluten-free items, and a salad bar. In the future, the family plans on adding a Website and an app to help the customers.

The deli will be open the same hours as the store, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

The elder Ed Heisler said he hired a chef to prepare the food, including to go items and, eventually, a complete take-out meal for families to pick up after work.

The store will undergo renovations, including new lighting. But many standards will remain, such as, Heisler said, “most” of the employees, along with some new faces the Heisler family brought in from the other store.

The elder Ed Heisler said he grew up in Whitehall and now lives in Mt. Lebanon, so he is familiar with Peters Township and the surrounding area. He knows time is often precious and he plans on providing convenience close to home.

“We want people to come here,” he said, and as for the addition of specialty foods and new updates he added, “We want to make it a little more fun.”

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