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A liquor license was obtained for the premises when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and the bar was known as the Pine Street Tavern.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 Fourth 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 in the spring of 1961. By 1966 the bar had been renamed Vince & Fred's Tavern as was known as such until 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.

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 sits boarded up, abandoned, and in need of repair. It was finally razed in the spring of 2012.

Mike Barbalace is survived by his only living grandson Ferdinando "Nando" Micale and his great grand-daughters Olivia Micale  (Ferdinando and Kim Micale) and Maggie Hall Micale (Francesco and Jennifer Micale) of Altoona, PA.  Nando, who lives with his family in Collingswood, NJ,  is an architect and urban planner, and Partner with the Philadelphia firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC.  Nando has worked in Camden throughout his 20-year career rebuilding and revitalizing the neighborhoods, where his parents and grandparents lived, worked, and played.

The Barbalace Family

Mike, Mary, & Fred
young Nora

about 1946

Nora's Cafe - before renovations
about 1940

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Nora's Cafe - before renovations
Fred and Mike with two bartenders, about 1940

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Nora's Cafe - before renovations
Mike and Fred behind the bar, about 1940

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Nora's Cafe
after renovations

The front doorway and windows were changed

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Nora's Cafe after renovations

After expanding into the adjacent home on Pine Street, the bar and interior were completely modernized, and barstools added. Check out the Camden Beer neon sign in the window!

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Looking North on 6th Street from PIne - 1940s

The older lady is the sister of Mike and Fred - Annunziata (Z'nunzia - Aunt Nunzia) who came to the US with her husband to visit but never stayed.  The cars are very cool and huge! My granfather was a Buick man but I think the car in the foreground is a 1940 Dodge D14.  I think the car in the background is my grandfather's car. 

Ferdinando "Nando" Micale
January 2008

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Nora Barbalace
outside of the Ladies' Entrance

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589 Pine Street - October 27, 2003

The Barbalace family are cousins of mine who owned "Nora's Cafe" and the place was named after Mike and Mary's daughter "Nora" who still lives in Westmont. My aunt lived a few houses away from the bar and whenever Mike or Mary saw me playing outside of the bar with my cousins Mary Barbalace would come outside and bring me into the bar through the Ladies entrance, sit me down and feed me great food and of course plenty of cokes to drink.

Sure do miss those days.

Pat Yocalano
September 2007

Thanks to Nando Micale, grandson of Mike and Mary Barbalace, for his help in creating this web-page.