Mars Beer serves up beverages, history
Off Valencia Road in Mars is a little piece of Hollywood history.
The Mars Beer Distributor, which has been family owned since 1985, was one of several filming locations around the area for the bowling movie “Kingpin” featuring such Hollywood fixtures as Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid.
It should come as no surprise then that Amy Charlton, the current owner of the shop, is a bowler just like her father, although she didn’t know the movie was being filmed there at the time.
“I didn’t get to meet any of them because I wasn’t told about it,” Charlton said. “At that point I was living in Virginia, but my mom, dad and brother met all the actors and everything.”
The first shot of the business in the movie is at the very beginning.
As the location and date — Ocelot, Iowa, in 1969 — appears on the screen, the viewer can see the entirety of the building titled “Munsun’s Garage” in the movie.
The main character Roy (Harrelson) is then shown as a kid bowling on the side of the building with his father in a makeshift bowling lane.
Charlton didn’t want to get into the beer business, instead going to college to be a teacher. She and her brother took over the family business after their parents died. Her brother has since married and moved away, leaving her to run the business.
Her father, Jim Charlton, bought the business from its previous owner in 1985 after he had worked there for about a decade.
“The reason my dad bought the business was to send us to college,” Charlton said. “So I went away to college in Frostburg, Md., and got an education degree that I never ended up using.”
After college, Charlton moved to Virginia to be with her aunt, whose husband had recently died. She stayed there for 10 years before her mother got ill in 2006 and Charlton was needed to help run the family beer distributor. She has stayed in Mars ever since.
Charlton’s favorite drink is Malibu rum, she said, so in order to keep up with trends, she’s constantly checking with customers.
“I don’t drink beer at all personally,” Charlton said. “I don’t like beer. So I will get different beers in based on what customers ask and what my friends tell me. So people will stop by and look at my selection, and they’ll complement my selection, but then they’ll be like, ‘Oh, but do you have this,’ and sometimes I’ve heard of it, sometimes I haven’t, but I’ll always try to find it if I can.”
She also keeps her distributor stocked with well known major brands like Miller, Budweiser and Guinness and the local major brands like Iron City.
This piece of Pittsburgh movie magic can be found at 255 Mars Valencia Road in Mars. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, closed on Thursday, and open until 8 p.m. Wednesdays.