History of the West
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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by Gary Swilik
For thirty years the crossroads at Rocky River Drive and Brookpark Road was popularly known as Hogan's Corners. The name was derived from a well-patronized grocery store, owned by local resident James Hogan, which stood at that busy intersection. "Hogan's Corners" is largely forgotten but there was a time when it was nearly as well known as Kamm's Corners.
James Michael Hogan was born in Cuyahoga County on December 26, 1872, son of John Hogan, a veteran of the Civil War who was at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. James grew up on his father's farm on Rocky River Drive. In May, 1901, he opened a grocery store at the northwest corner of Rocky River Drive and Brookpark Road. During the first few months while the store was under construction, the business operated from temporary quarters in a large tent. In June, 1909, James moved the store across the street into a new building at the northeast corner of the intersection, at 4995 Rocky River Drive, where it remained in business until about 1930.
Hogan's Grocery opened in a tent at the northwest corner of Rocky River Drive and Brookpark Road.
Photograph courtesy of Mary Lou Stesny.
In the 1930s the former Hogan's Grocery was a restaurant and Tavern.
Looking east across Rocky River Drive.
In 1902, James Hogan wed Mary Lammermeier, and the couple had two daughters: Florence, born in 1903, and Gertrude, born in 1905. Hogan's Grocery was not only the family business but their home as well. James' younger brother, John Jr., helped by working as the grocery deliveryman.
James Hogan's granddaughter, Mary Lou Stesny, of Berea, Ohio, recalls hearing about the store from her mother Gertrude. "I wasn't born until about the time the store was sold. I was told there were two gas pumps in front of the building. My grandfather could sit at his seat in Heini Krenkel's bar, across the street, and watch the gas being pumped at his store. And my older brother Robert remembered going to the store to get ice cream cones. '
In 1930, James Hogan sold his store and property for $30,000 to an investor who planned to build a hotel on the site to serve the passengers from nearby Cleveland Airport. In his retirement years, James and his wife Mary lived with their daughter Gertrude on Valleyview Avenue. 'I remember my grandpa would peel fresh apples with his knife and give the 'scrapings' to us kids. We loved it! '
James died in 1936 at age 64, and his wife Mary passed away in 1939 at age 60. They are buried side-by-side in St. Patrick's Cemetery, less than a mile from Hogan's Corners and the site of the store they ran for nearly three decades.
The Hogan's Grocery building stood for many more years. The hotel planned for the site never materialized and the old grocery became a bar and restaurant under several different owners. (For a brief time, it was the "Sky Way Tavern," not to be confused with the the Sky Way Lounge which opened nearby years later.) In 1945, it was purchased by Elias "Big Louie" Fadil and became the La Conga Club, a landmark neighborhood tavern for almost 40 years.
From 1945 to 1982, the popular La Conga Club occupied the former Hogan's Grocery.
Photograph courtesy of the West Park Historical Society.
"We used to get people from the Chevy plant, before Brook Park was built up," recalls Big Louie's daughter, Jean Fadil, who grew up in an apartment over the restaurant. "Then we used to get the nice people from NASA coming in for lunch. And we had all those people during the Cleveland Air Races coming in for pop or drinks."
In 1982 the La Conga Club became Night Flights, a popular tavern and nightspot. In February, 1998, the bar was set ablaze by an arsonist and sustained heavy interior damage. For a short time the boarded-up building remained standing, the only structure left at the once commercial intersection, before being demolished later that year. Few remembered it had once been Hogan's Grocery.