CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
VINCE & FRED'S TAVERN
589 Pine Street
711 South 6th Street
Northwest Corner of South 6th & Pine Streets
While the building at 589 Pine Street - Sixth and Pine Streets - appears to go back to the 19th century, there was no bar operating there in prior to 1891. By 1914 a saloon had been established there, Charles P. Schmidt then the proprietor. Max Roth operated it from 1918 through at least 1921. By 1924 a tailor, Joseph Berlin, had bought the building and was in business at 589 Pine, and he was still at that location as late as April of 1930..
A liquor license was obtained for the premises when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and the bar was known as the Pine Street Tavern. In 1939 the bar changed hands and soon the name was changed to Nora's Cafe when Michele "Mike" Barbalace and his brother Ferdinando "Fred" became the proprietors. First operated as a bar, the name Nora's Cafe was for the brothers' mother Eleanora who lived in the village of San Ferdinando in Calabria, Italy. Following a fire at the premises, the brothers remodeled the bar and added a restaurant and a "Ladies Entrance" off Sixth Street. Mike married Mary Rose Petulla that year and had a daughter who they named Eleanora and was known as Nora. Part of the renovations included expanding into the adjoining house on Pine Street, which can be seen by comparing the before and after renovations pictures below.
The Barbalace brothers came to Camden following their oldest brother Domenico "Domenick" who immigrated to the U.S. in 1910 with his wife Lucia "Lucy," who by the 1930 Census resided with his family (teenagers Pat and Pete) at 616 South 5th Street.
Born May 19, 1904, Mike Barbalace immigrated to the U.S. in 1923 at age 23. Mike worked for Campbell Soup Company as a butcher until he partnered with a man by the name of Hoover and opened an establishment called the Florentine Beer Garden at 943 South 4th Street near Walnut Street. Mike's brother Fred was born in 1899 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1927 and then again in 1934 following the repeal of Prohibition. He was partners with his brother and lived with him and his family until his death.
The entire Barbalace family including Fred and their German Shepard "King" lived at Sixth and Pine Streets above Nora's Cafe (589 Pine Street) until 1958, when the brothers retired, sold the building and the business, and moved to 206 Hampton Road in Westmont, NJ. The bar was known as Steve's Tavern by May of 1961.
By 1966 the bar had been renamed Vince & Fred's Tavern after the two owners, Vince Santoferraro and Fred Cinelli. 589 Pine Street was known as Vince & Fred's Tavern as late as 1977. The Barbalace family resided in Westmont until they passed away - Fred in 1963 at the age of 64, Mary in 1971 at the age of 52, Mike 1979 just one month short of his 76th birthday, and Nora in 1998 at age 57. Fred Cinelli also passed away around 1999.
The bar changed hands again, and was known in the 1980s and early 1990s as Dreamer's Lounge. By the mid 1980s the neighborhood had become very bad, and the bar was shut down in the early 1990s, never to reopen. Sadly, as of 2008 the building at 589 Pine Street sits boarded up, abandoned, and in need of repair. It was finally razed in the spring of 2012.
John Ciafrani passed a few comments from his friend "Big Mike" Pietrafesa about Vince & Fred's Tavern.
"He said they made a great sandwich and had a great shuffle board and dart board. Back in dark ages sailors had a old saying "Some days you eat the bear other days the bears eat you" In other words if you get to eat the bear it gets no better. Big Mike said they really ate bear and the place was always spotless. Vince & Fred's had green and black tile you could eat off."
John Ciafrani, May 2004
Thanks to Bob Grigioni,
RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE