SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC) - If you have a hankering for a specialty hot dog grilled to perfection by a genuine baseball mom, head for The Bullpen at 5960 Getwell Road Suite 113 in Southaven.
"I did this because I knew there wasn't a place here that served any kind of hot dog or anything," said Amanda Mills, a forty-something single Mom who opened The Bullpen with the idea that it would attract other baseball parents, players, and fans from the nearby 17 fields at Snowden Grove.
The mother of two sons who are competitive athletes, Mills knows timing is critical when parents need to connect their hungry players with a meal.
"Being a baseball mom, you have to come in quick and go out quick. You're going to have another game or tournament in about 30 minutes. You got to go in and go out," Mills said.
Snowden Grove has become a premiere destination in the Mid-South for tournament baseball but many baseball game rain outs this year have The Bullpen's owner yearning for relief.
One of her sons, 17-year-old Peyton Mills, plays shortstop for DeSoto Central High School as well as a showcase team that travels to play in Florida, Georgia, and beyond.
Her 13-year-old son, Parker, played baseball as well, but "He switched to basketball," Mills said.
Vintage pictures of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig adorn the Southaven eatery a couple doors down from the popular Mesquite Chop House in Southaven.
Opened on Jan. 3, 2017, Mills and her mother, Teresa Collins, redesigned the space themselves, putting in long hours recreating The Bullpen's look.
"They had peel stick carpet; we changed that. They had green walls it was terrible," Mills said.
Now filled with bright red, white, and beige, the spotless restaurant has baseball themed decorations and a menu focused on specialty hot dogs: the "New Yorker," "Chicago style," "Coney Island," "Maxwell Street Polish," "The Grand Slam," "The Bambino," "High Cheese," "The Dinger," "Turn Two," "The Walk-Off," and "Fielder's Choice" as well as a Chicago style Italian beef sandwich.
The Italian beef is served on Gonella bread with Giardinaire peppers and other Chicago style condiments, including a gravy "au jus" as one may dip the sandwich before devouring.
You can click on The Bullpen's Menu for details on each specialty hot dog and other menu items here.
A 15-year sales veteran at Landau Uniforms, Mills took the dive into the restaurant business, risking her own money on the enterprise.
Mills' products are popular with those she's able to attract inside The Bullpen.
"I have a lot of customers that come in, I sit down with them. They're really true, good customers. They come in all the time and they love it. All my reviews are fantastic," Mills said.
Trouble is, Mills has no extra money for advertising.
She's on Facebook, prints her menu, and personally distributes them on residential mailboxes and places her promotions on the windshields of vehicles parked at Snowden Grove on some game days.
"My kids hold up signs on the weekends. They hold up the signs for me. I'm just not getting out there. Every person who walks in the door says I don't know you're here," Mills said.
The Bullpen's signage on Getwell Road makes no mention of her specialty hot dogs so passers-by have no idea what The Bullpen is.
Mills started renovating the space in September 2016, so this struggle for success has been underway for an entire year now.
Mills' mother, Teresa, joined her daughter's venture after retiring from a 30-year career as an administrator for Greyhound Lines, Inc.
"I had a vision of what I wanted it to be. If you build it, they'll come. I did it all out of my own pocket," Mills said.
The Bullpen delivers. You can call in your order at (662) 470-6231. Your order will help a struggling entrepreneur realize a tiny step forward in success that may yet become a home run.