About this place
Fans of the late, lamented Bill Valentine's Ballpark Restaurant can be of reasonably good cheer about its successor.
Ump's Pub & Grill is off to a credible start in its chosen mission to purvey the likes of burgers, chicken wings and fried pickles. The notably more casual and less expensive eatery opened a week ago to coincide with the start of the Arkansas Travelers' 2009 season.
Not entirely gone, but considerably less of a presence, is a prime attraction - the 76-year-old Valentine. The consummate raconteur did make a table-hopping appearance on opening night and is expected to drop by during the season when he's in the ballpark.
As for the grappa and the limoncello, with which Valentine was known to treat favored patrons, they apparently are still in stock at Ump's - but no longer much in favor.
"I think we have some in the back somewhere," said Travelers General Manager Pete Laven, when asked about the clear grape brandy and the lemon liqueur that are traditional after-dinner libations in Italy.
Laven, who is shepherding the revamped operation, made the astute decision to retain as much of the Valentine's staff as possible. Executive Chef Jeremiah Hudson and Sous Executive Chef Richard Lindsey remain in charge of the same kitchen crew, while most of the servers are also holdovers.