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History mystery solved: Bark Grill’s bark went up in 1937

February 4, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

As most faithful BeeLines readers know by now, your Westfield Historian does not cease research until a history mystery is either solved, or at least all known resources have been gleaned of as much information as possible. The latest task: Finding out about the bark on the walls of The Bark Grill in Westfield.

First I needed to contact any living members of the family to see if they remembered anything about the application of bark to the walls. Two people came to mind. First, one daughter of Tony "Bark" DiPasquale was phoned, leaving a message. Then a step-grandson, Don Bova of Bova's Restaurant in North East PA, was phoned, and he said the stories he heard as a child growing up in the apartments above the restaurant were that the bark was put in the walls in the 1930s, well before he was born.

Since the years between the 1935 date of the "Spaghetti Restaurant" ad, and 1940 newspapers had not been researched, a search backwards from 1940 was begun the night of the latest Art Opening at the Patterson Library Octagon Gallery. And BINGO! In the April 5, 1939 Westfield Republican, a headline, "Blaze at Bark Grill" popped up, the article stating, "Westfield Fire Department was called to the Bark Grill on Pearl street, Monday afternoon. A fire had started in a close closet and burned out a partition. They will sustain some water damage."

Article Photos

Photo by Theresa Baideme
This is the painting of Tony “Bark” DiPasquale, painted by the late Tony Baideme, that has the names of his daughters on the back. Marybelle Beigh, the Westfield historian (left) and Evelyn Quagliana, the present owner of The Bark Grill, are holding the painting. This painting currently hangs on the wall of the lounge at The Bark Grill.

AHA! So it was "Bark Grill" in early 1939! Time to search 1938 for ads or stories! And sure enough, the February 9, 1938 newspaper had a large ad for a Valentine Dance and Floor Show, February 12th at Bark Grill, Music by Frankie Mutch and his Band, Our Special - Real Italian Spaghetti 14 East Pearl Street. Next, in the December 29, 1937 Westfield Republican, a "New Year's Eve Dine and Dance at The Bark Grill, 14 E. Pearl Music by Frankie Much and his orchestra - All Nite License" was found. (Library closing time to shut off the microfilm reader)

After a long snow-bound weekend, the search resumed, starting at the beginning of the 1936-1937 microfilm reel, figuring that it was the Spaghetti Restaurant in 1935. Nothing found in 1936 paper. (Time to go to an appointment and then come back to finish the research.)

Just as I was getting in my car to go back to the library to research the 1937 microfilm, my cell phone rang. An Erie, Pa. number that I didn't recognize came up on the screen "Hello?" I said "Did you phone me?" an elderly female voice asked. "My name is Philomina DiPasquale Miller." "Yes ma'am!" I replied, and identified myself as the Westfield Historian researching to find out when the bark was put on the walls of The Bark Grill. Well this delightful lady proceeded to tell me a story that I never had heard before, (and could understand why), about how the bark came to be on the walls of The Bark Grill. Her daddy was a hunter, and he and a bunch of his buddies were out in the woods hunting, and chatting about his newly acquired restaurant, and dreaming up ideas of making it a really special place and they looked at the trees covered with bark and. Well, Philomina remembered these guys having a work party putting the bark on the walls of the restaurant she was about 5 years old (born in 1933)

We chatted about a lot of other names of the Italian families she knew in "Little Italy" of Westfield - on Pearl Street and Clark Street they had lived on Clark street until daddy Tony had acquired the restaurant from his mom, and then they all moved into the apartments on the second floor. Philomina also told of recently bringing a painting of Tony "Bark" DiPasquale done by Tony Baideme (Theresa Baideme's Grandfather) back to be hung on the walls of the restaurant, a couple years ago. (The names of her and her late sister Nicolleta, are written on the back of this painting, and are the source of how to contact her.)

WOW! Highly inspired by this phone conversation, I returned to the library and found a single microfilm for 1937. Then in July 14, 1937, was an ad for "Bark Grill Dine and Dance at 14 E Pearl St." "Hmmm? Did I miss a story someplace earlier? Better go back a week and really search carefully!" Eureka! An ad on page 6 of the July 7, 1937 Westfield Republican reads: "Spaghetti Restaurant - E. Pearl St. - Grand Opening - Under new management -Saturday Nite, July 10th - Italian food a specialty - All Welcome."

 
 
 

 

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