Ain't no party like a Scranton party

By Liam McCabe

Mifflin sign

A wise man once said, “Life moves a little slower in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And that’s the way we like it. Because at Dunder Mifflin Scranton, we’re not just in the paper business, we’re in the people business.” That man is Michael Scott, branch manager.

If you know Michael, you’re an avid fan of The Office. The NBC comedy (actually filmed in California) put the “Electric City” back on the map for most of the country. Famous for coal mining and streetcar technology of the past, Scranton today is another shrinking, post-industrial northeastern city. It hosts plenty of, um, intriguing historical sites, but head straight for the good stuff: anything and everything related to The Office.

Hop on Interstate 81 South and keep trucking for about two hours. You’re in Pennsylvania when big-ass highway billboards for mom-and-pop firework emporiums appear, but still only halfway there. Pass the time by reciting your favorite Schruteisms. Downtown Scranton awaits at Exit 185.

First stop: the Mall at Steamtown, featured in Season 3. Turn left at the first light onto Lackawanna Avenue, and the mall is a few blocks ahead. Take advantage of the mall parking lot, because Scrantonian meter maids are highly efficient. Dwight would approve.

Dodge the mallrats and head toward the aptly named A Dollar on the first floor. Even for a dollar store, the selection is great. Browse the DVDs and kitchen section for some gems. Then head upstairs into the food court and pose in front of the “Scranton Welcomes You” sign from the show’s intro sequence, removed from the highway to preserve its newfound “cultural relevance.”

From the mall, head south down South Washington Street toward the South Side Shopping Center. It’s a generic strip mall, but it’s home to two of Dunder Mifflin’s favorite haunts: Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe and Poor Richard’s Pub.

Not to be confused with the fictional Pizza by Alfredo – which is “like eating a hot circle of garbage,” according to Office accountant Kevin – Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe is phenomenal, “both in quality of ingredients and overall taste,” as Oscar once said. Get there early — this charming Italian-American spot gets bumpin’ during rush hour. Order the thick-pan pizza for $12.99 (and maybe another for the ride home – it’s that good). The sauce is sweet, the crust crisp and buttery, and the cheese top-notch. The rest of the menu is a classy blend of Italian standards and fried pub grub.

Once you’re stuffed, head around the corner to Michael’s favorite happy-hour joint, Poor Richard’s Pub at 125 Beech St. It’s inside the South Side Bowl, a 34-lane bowling alley with billiards, arcade games, and a solid snack bar. The pub doesn’t open until 5 p.m. on weekdays, so bowl a few frames to kill time. Exact costs vary depending on the day and time, but it’s just a few bucks per person per game.

True to the show, Poor Richard’s seems to be an after-work hangout for locals. The selection and prices are average, but expect a few funny looks – like the way Jim stares at the camera. It’s smaller than the set used on the show, but looks pretty similar. Stop by for a drink before the trek home.

So it’s a long trip and Scranton is a bit drab, but it’s worth the ride to visit your favorite Office sites. Endure the long, hard drive and you’ll leave satisfied. (That’s what she said.)