photos by Moe Kharrazi
Costello’s bar and grill, located off of Selby and Western in St. Paul, will be closing its doors on Thursday, February 27th after 19 years of service.
I’ve always developed close, personal attachments to places. It was difficult for me to move out of any of the houses I grew up in because of the attachment I had with them. I didn’t even like when fast food restaurants remodeled or changed buildings. I still remember the feel of the old school Taco Bell on Suburban. Not to mention how sad I was when I saw that the White Castle near Hillcrest Shopping Center was torn down.
As a child it’s hard to grasp that things will end. Being shaken out of that is jarring- a rite of passage.
In the past few years I’ve gotten a lot better dealing with stuff like this, but now I have to deal with Costello’s closing. I’m not sure I’ve ever had to deal with anything more difficult. And that counts the McDonald’s off 94 and Suburban getting rid of their fountain.
I literally grew up at Costello’s. When I was 15 my sister was a waitress there so my parents and I would stop in all the time. Imagine that: a 15 year old boy with his parents (who didn’t drink any alcohol) at a busy, crowded, smoky bar at 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Needless to say we received many confused stares. Regardless, we did it for years.
My emotional attachment grew as I got older. At 18 I was a member of the crew that cleaned Costello’s each night. This gave me the opportunity to become good friends with the bartenders and waitresses thanks to many, lengthy after-hours conversations. By the time I turned 21 and could actually drink there it already meant more to me than any other place I had ever gone in my life.
Although I had heard rumors that the owner was looking to sell I could never deal mentally with the possibility. So when Ron Heart, one of my best friends and a head bartender at Costello’s, told me they were closing I was heartbroken. It took me back to emotions that I hadn’t felt in years. I could lose any place I go to regularly and it wouldn’t really hurt me. But Costello’s? What a blow. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over it.
Costello’s embodied everything that a neighborhood bar should be. The food was greasy, delicious, and inexpensive. The beer selection was varied without being snobbish. Most importantly, the staff and the clientele were diverse and down to earth. You could feel like Costello’s was “your bar” regardless of your age, income, or situation in life. While perhaps cliché, you don’t actually find many places like that. Costello’s was one of those places.
It’s still painfully difficult to imagine letting go of a place that is so meaningful to me. It’s not just a bar or a place I like to hang out. The experiences I’ve had there have been a foundational part of my life for over 15 years. It holds a place in my heart that can never be replaced. It’s a part of me and a part of me will go with it.
God bless Costello’s.
Special thanks to owner Mike Costello, whose vision and dedication made Costello’s possible.