The Neighborhood Bar

Okd Bar

Back in the time of the American Revolution, taverns were the hub of social activity. In my old neighborhood, this social activity (or just plain drinking) carried on into the 1960’s- 1970’s. Within 2 blocks from my home there were 8 establishments (let’s call them what they were, neighborhood bars) where you could grab a beer and whisky. Actually, a few more if you if you extended the radius just a few blocks.

My neighborhood sure wasn’t alone and I’d be willing to bet that almost every intersection in the city had at least one bar. If not a bar, a bakery or small grocery store. The neighborhood bar is where you stopped after work to unwind, drink and commiserate with others about another disappointing Indians or Browns season.

It seemed like every bar sponsored a softball team and probably a bowling team.  In fact, some of the best softball teams in the United States were sponsored by local Cleveland bars. A few of the teams were Pyramid Café, Finn Café, and Ruggles Inn. Pyramid Café won the National Championship in 1975.  The Plain Dealer ran articles, box scores and the hitting leaders of all the city leagues. I was able to find box scores of 7 of the 8 bars between Harvard and Clement.

Here are a few memories;

When I was very young, I thought all the change left on the bar was for me to play pinball or the bowling machine.

A few years later I would rush down to the corner bars after school on Friday with a shoe shine kit and made what I thought was a fortune from the factory workers after a long week of work.

When I was of almost legal age, I’d just hang out at the PRCU shooting pool or playing video poker drinking 50 cent Miller High Life. (buy two get one for free)

And lastly, celebrating victory after a Shanty Inn softball team win!

I’m going to hunt for old time photo’s, but until then here’s the view from today of where these bars once were. 

Photos of the old locations

Map of the old locations

2 thoughts on “The Neighborhood Bar”

  1. My first bar memory is of the Academy Tavern on Larchmere which has been in operation since 1939.. I think I was about three when my parents first took me there for a plate of ravioli. The last time I visited it looked quite similar–although they created a patio space in the back which is now a nice place to hang out in warm weather.

    The Larchmere Woodland area has changed over the decades as well. There is no longer a deli serving corned beef sandwiches and my favorite pizza place is long gone, but now there are many other eateries that weren’t there when I was a kid. Every neighborhood seems to go through its own evolution.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your stories as time goes by.

  2. Academy Tavern is awesome! I always stop for a beer after a visit to Loganberry Books across the street. By the way Loganberry has an extensive selection of Cleveland history books.

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