History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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The Oldest Bars & Taverns
in West Park
By Ross E. Bassett
Let me start by defining the intent of this article. The bars I will discuss are the bars that started business at the end of prohibition and are still in business today, over eighty years later. All of these remaining places are located on Lorain Avenue.
Why discuss West Park bars? Because they were community gathering places just like churches. Many a West Park resident celebrated the birth of a child or mourned the loss of a loved one in these establishments. And just think about the celebrations, not only on St. Patrick’s Day but also on other holidays. I can not even imagine what the end of World War Two must have been like! Add sporting events and family gatherings for meals, and West Park bars have quite a history. As they say, "If these walls could talk."
First, let me take you back to the year 1933 and the end of Prohibition. In April of that year low power beer (3.2) was legalized and "happy days were here again." The beer started flowing throughout Cleveland around 10 am on Friday, April 7th. Regnatz Dining Hall on Warren Road was issued one of the first permits. (3.2 beer was the only booze allowed in bars from March 1933 to January 1934.)
For many years Dailey’s was known for its Christmas light gambling pool. A string of Christmas lights was hung in the bar and left on 24/7. Each light was numbered and the last to burn out (usually sometime in summer) was the winner. As a young man in the 1970s, many times I stopped at Dailey’s to check on my light.
In the weeks following the end of Prohibition in 1933, I believe permits to serve 3.2. beer were also issued to:
Loyda’s Cafe which is now the Lion on Lorain at West 127th.
Herzog’s which is now Der Braumeister at West 131st.
Bellis Restaurant which is now the Closing Room at West 138th
Manheim’s which is now The Normandy at West 140th.
The Gables at West 168th which is now Si Senor restaurant.
Michael Max restaurant at Rocky River Drive which is now Panini’s at Kamm’s Corner.
The Far-Mor Cafe at West 158th.
The names of some of these establishments have changed repeatedly but all of the above have been serving the needs of West Park residents almost non-stop for decades. Der Braumiester is more of a restaurant than a bar, known for its great German food. The Closing Room, the Lion on Lorain, the Gables, and Panini’s have been extensively remodeled. Both the Normandy and the Far-Mor are little changed from what they must have looked like in 1933.
Liquor was sold in drug stores (but not yet in bars) starting later that year on December 23rd, 1933. On that New Year’s Eve one week later, "bring your own bottle" parties were held at Rainbow Gardens overlooking the valley on Rocky River Drive, Banater Hall at West 120th, the Linnet Club at West 164th, and the Will Bar Grill at West 152nd. The Lorain Grill at 12825 Lorain Avenue featured an orchestra and floor show with a turkey, duck or chicken dinner for 50 cents!
On January 18th, 1934, drink-by-glass liquor permits began being issued to bars with the first actual drinks in Cleveland being served shortly before noon on Friday January 19th. The rest, shall we say, is history.
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Updated 15 July 2014