Mike Pullano, the owner of the World Famous Café received the first-ever “Fightin for Reading” Award on behalf of the Reading Fightin Phils on Thursday, July 20th at America’s Classic Ballpark when the team celebrated it’s “Love it Here, Go Local” Night.
“Love it Here, Go Local” celebrates unchained and independent businesses in Berks County”, states Fightin Phils General Manger Scott Hunsicker. “Under the umbrella of “Love it Here, Go Local” we really wanted to identify a “Fightin for Reading” Award. The idea was for an unchained and independent business that’s in the city of Reading where someone at that business has basically pounded their fist down on the table and said, “We’re fighting for Reading, we’re staying here, we’re going to double down and reinvest in our business! We are going to make Reading a better place one place at a time!”
Pullano certainly fits the bill. Pullano took ownership of the World Famous Pike Café at corner of Pike and Moss streets in 1985. A prime example of what the Fightin for Reading Award is all about.
“When I first bought the Pike Café, it only had four tables and 20 bar seats”, said Mike Pullano. “When one of my buddies came back from Florida, he said we should open a bar. The Pike Café was for sale, I bought it and it has been history ever since.”
“It was really small. It was a single row home on Pike street in downtown Reading. And at that time there were probably 16 bars in that neighborhood”, added Hunsicker.
In a neighborhood where other businesses have routinely closed up shop or moved to out of town to more comfortable suburban surroundings, Pullano and the World Famous Pike Café has flourished.
“I do care about this neighborhood”, added Pullano. “So that’s why I bought a lot of properties in this neighborhood. And so I think the Pike Café holds down this northeast corridor, otherwise you would have a boarded up factory across the street and maybe just another corner bar. All the corner bars in the city of Reading are almost all gone. There’s not many left. So I consider myself not a corner bar no more. I consider myself one of the places to come in Berks County.”
The success of the Pike has come as a result of many years of investing in upgrades and expansion. Pullano put a kitchen into the café in 1990. He’s done multiple remodeling over the years plus buying four houses next door. He also has a large parking lot across the street, which at one time housed a factory. He now has a the Pike Patio on Moss Street that can hold to 100 people.
“The demographics in the neighborhood have changed, but people know there is a reason to come into the city of Reading and that’s the Pike Café”, said Pullano. “I think it’s a great reason. We never have any problems here. Our parking lot is huge. Everything has security cameras. A majority of our business is people who drive from the suburbs into the city.”
“For some people in the suburbs there’s a shock to their system that you cross the city line and go into the city then yes. If not you’re missing the Pike and you’re missing out”, proclaimed Hunsicker.
“I call it the WOW factor”, professed Pullano. “So when people come into Pike Café they go WOW! When people go and walk out onto the Pike Patio on Moss they go WOW! So that makes me feel the best.”
“What he did was put his heart and soul and his passion and love for the city into his business” added Hunsicker. “He brought in good employees. They moved into the row homes around there. And the Pike continued to grow as a beacon of hope for some of us.”
“For Mike’s willingness to take a risk and to double-down in his little part of the world and to stick his flag in the ground and say this is the Pike and I’m going to make this place great, as great as any place outside the city but I’m going to stay right where I’m at. For all of those reasons – it’s an inspiration”, said Hunsicker.
“If Reading isn’t successful then the surrounding areas aren’t going to be successful. It all starts here. We work our way out. I do believe that people should care about the city of Reading. Me personally, I grew up in the city, right down the street from the Pike Café. So I care about the city”, said Pullano.
Pullano believes in consistency. It’s that consistency that has drawn people to the Pike Café where Pullano feels people know what to expect when to dine at his establishment.
“That’s another reason why that not just the Pike Café but specifically Mike Pullano is receiving this award” proclaims Hunsicker. “He personally fought!”
“So as far as I’m concerned…I’m in this for life!” declared Pullano.