By Wanda Ramaley
Special to the Meadville Tribune
Today the beloved Stable Pit & Pub Restaurant will go up for judicial sale at the Crawford County Courthouse.
At this time, I would like to share with everyone what I have called “Stable Pit & Pub, A Love Story.” Back in 1980, my husband and I went there three times a week during our courting days, as we loved the trio that composed the Big Daddy Revue — Frank, Bobby and Emily. Many people loved the food at the restaurant, along with the entertainment, and the combination of the two is the beginning of the Bob and Wanda Ramaley love story.
We had an outdoor campground wedding, and our wedding music was provided by Big Daddy and Bobby Remp.
Twenty years later, we bought the restaurant that we loved so much. People from the past would stop in and ask if they could see the upstairs of the building, known as the Cowshed. I would hear how they met their future spouses there and wanted to relive memories in their minds by going upstairs. I even heard the story about a guy who partied there on a dance night, drove back to Pittsburgh after a really wild evening and then turned on KDKA news to find out the Cowshed burned to the ground in the middle of the night! I remember that fire, even though I was living at home and going to high school. There was also another fire in the mid-’90s, but it was salvaged and repaired by the previous owner.
When we bought the restaurant, we did not realize just how bad of shape the whole building was in. I do believe that if the Pit & Pub was in a newer and more modern building, it would still be open today. I can only hope that whomever buys the property, if it gets sold, has the money to do what is necessary to reopen.
During the almost 10 years that the Ramaley family owned the restaurant, we met many new friends and kept the quality of the food that the place was known for. Downstairs could seat 400 people, and our holiday buffets would draw almost 1,000 people over a 10-hour period. The Cowshed upstairs seated 500, and we were so proud of all of the company parties, fundraising events, beautiful wedding receptions, teen dances in the mid-2000 years, business meetings, banquets and private parties that booked with us.
All in all, it took almost 40 employees plus my husband and myself to try to make our events all successful. One of the fun things was having a little black Volkswagen that Signs by Renee detailed exactly like I had envisioned, and then we had to get the license plate PUBBUG to complete the look. That car will be sold separately to the higher bidder, but not today. I have decided to leave the detailing left on it and sell it where we live.
To me, this next paragraph is my favorite story of owning the Pit & Pub, as it redefined our family in a wonderful way.
One real busy Saturday night, we realized we needed to hire more bussers — employees who would clean off and reset a table — all in a matter of minutes. One of the girls I hired for that, Nikki Huber, is now engaged to marry our only son, Bobby. The greatest love of all that any parent can get from their children is grandchildren. We have been blessed with a grandson, Robert III, and a granddaughter, Leah Ramaley. Every time I think back as to how rough the ending was for us to have to close the business, I realize that maybe we had to go through that to gain three new family members. To me, there is nothing better than a big hug from a little person who calls us PaPa and Gamma. To me, the words Gamma, since they are too young to be able to pronounce Grandma, are the most loving words in my life. I never thought anything would be more loving than to hear your own child call you mom, but my son proved to me that his love extends to me through his own children.
I want to give our son, Bobby, most of the credit for keeping the restaurant going, through the good days and the days we had continual breakdowns. Bobby was only 18 when we bought the restaurant, but he quickly learned every portion of how to run a restaurant, and he did it with the same love and respect that I did. My son was my “rock.” I never realized how much he learned from being the manager there, but he also showed me how well he can think on his feet in a quick decision process.
We fixed up the red house next door that the previous owner lived in and converted it into a romantic getaway, and we called it the Stable Suite. It had a king size bed, an electric fireplace beside the bed, a stereo system, color TV, and a Jacuzzi for two, all in the same room. The biggest laugh we all had was the mirrors over the bed. Enough on that subject! Many late nights I rented out the suite after having dances in the Cowshed that brought back some well known bands. We provided the room for bands like the Vogues, The Marcels, Pure Gold and others too numerous to name. Although I had the pleasure of meeting these bands, my favorite performer there will always be Bobby Remp. He is well-loved by many in our area.
As the sale draws near, I just want all of our employees to know that we sincerely appreciate all of the hard work that we watched you perform, and to also note that between Scott, JoAnn, Bruce and Nancy, the four key employees that we retained, had more than 100 years of experience and expertise that they did. I feel that our employees were second to none in any restaurant in this area. Even to this day, I hear people tell me how much they miss the food and good times that they enjoyed at the Cowshed Complex, whether it was in the downstairs restaurant or upstairs in the Cowshed.
To all of the customers that chose the Pit & Pub as a place to have a really nice meal or event, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had to make the decision to close the doors after almost 50 years of that building providing many wonderful memories for people — and it has been the hardest decision that I ever had to make. I had 40 employees, some full time, but most part time, and I want you all to know that I have the deepest amount of love and respect for the efforts you gave me.
The many good times that we enjoyed owning the Pub far exceeded the bad ending, so for that, I just want to say rest in peace, Pit & Pub, and thanks for the memories.
Ramaley is a former owner and operator of the Stable Pit & Pub, a Conneaut Lake landmark that is being sold at a judicial sale today in order to satisfy past due property taxes.