In a few days, the Bullpen Bar & Restaurant will close its doors for the final time. The reality is while we celebrate its time, we also mourn its passing. I’m unsure when it came into existence but my earliest memories are from the late ’60s as a young boy. My dad would ask me occasionally, on a Saturday, if I wanted to go down to Pete Sedere’s for a meatball sandwich and pop. Pete’s wife Mary used to make them on regular white bread and they were priced at an even then absurd price of 3 for $1.00 and that might have even included the drink. Early on I always thought my dad was taking me to “Pizza Dairy” as that was how it sounded rolling off his tongue. My Uncle John’s and Cousin Vic’s garage now owned by Dave Vermilyea on the West End was, and is, a social gathering spot for many and back in the day the men leaving there often ended up at Pete Sedere’s and more recently the Bullpen. There were updates to the structure and menu over the years but it’s purpose as a neighborhood and softball gathering spot didn’t change much as the ownership passed to the Tassones and then to Paces. While in high school and pre-21 years I would frequent it with a group of west end boys; Berardi, Marino, Muscaro, and Tomassoni. Those were good friends and their last names were appropriate because the bar, unlike any other in Warren was nestled in the residential neighborhood of the, at the time, predominantly Italian west end. We prized and devoured their pizza subs. As I aged into adulthood through the last 30+ years it became an occasional stop for Italian, wings, and beer.
The closure of Bullpen isn’t just the closure of an eating and drinking establishment. It is the closure of a vanishing bit of Americana. Whether it be the corner grocery, deli, bar, independent gas station, etc., they are quickly dying away, especially in small-town America. Replaced by aseptic places like Applebee’s, Walmart, and the corporate-owned convenience gas station, which are long on conformity, sameness, and rigidity of process but pretty much devoid of personality, character or neighborhood. Yes, they check all the boxes required by the myriad level of government requirements that rule any sort of development; appropriate setbacks, zoned correctly, off-street parking, etc. etc. Can anyone imagine the Bullpen reappearing in a place like the current one in today’s age? And in a way that’s really too bad because the Bullpen had a duality of purpose, yes it served a bigger audience but it was also neighborhood gathering spot something that Applebees, Walmart, and the Convenience station never will be. Conservative author Tim Carney’s book “Alienated America” captures this in his discussion of how the building is now done not on a human scale but for cars and how this undermines community and neighborhood. Well, the Bullpen swam upstream against the current for many years and though everyone there might not know our name, usually someone did…