The next time you have a drink at the latest hot spot, pour a little out for all the places we’ve loved before.
“It’s hard not to be proud,” a city prosecutor said, holding up a bottle of Absolut vodka like a trophy and celebrating a manslaughter conviction with family and friends at Otto Moser’s Tavern, “of the goddamned shameful fact that Cleveland is reputed to have the most bars, per capita, of any city in America.”
— “A Walk on the Wild Side,” by Jeff Hedrich, Jan. 1989
1974: Playhouse Square
Jennifer, a good-looking blond secretary for a small East Side industrial manufacturing firm, is so enmeshed in the singles scene that she has not missed a Friday night at the Hanna Pub (her favorite bar) in the last four years.
As soon as she was in the lobby, she knew The Last Moving Picture Company was the current champion of the downtown circuit.
— “Mixed Singles,” by Tim Joyce, Feb. 1974
The Playhouse Square area was ripe with pick-up bars. The Hanna Pub was located in the Hanna Building; The Picture Company was on East 14th Street.
1981: The Flats
Where’s the best party in Cleveland? Smack in the center of town, amid the roar and clatter of the freight trains, tugboats and factories — in the Flats!
Old River Road turns into Cleveland’s answer to every cruising strip, boardwalk and coastline vacation spot that most people in this town spend 51 weeks of the year wishing they were back at.
— “Industrial Hip,” by Frank Kuznik, Aug. 1981
1988: The Warehouse District & The Flats (You know, the classy Flats)
Aquilon — French for north wind — is where the city’s tuxedo set congregates after dinner at the Watermark or after a drink at Sammy’s bar. It is the place to be seen, either dancing to the Eurobeat on the poured terrazzo floor or quaffing a beaker of Grand Dame while relaxing on a Philip Stark designer bar stool.
Even the meat market route is so much more fun, so much classier, so much more cosmopolitan — from The Galleria to the Warehouse District, down the hill past Sammy’s to the east bank of the Cuyahoga, and then around the bend past Shorty’s and Aquilon over to Shooters and Club Coconuts on the west bank.
— “The New Nightlife,” by Dan Cook, March 1988
1998: The Warehouse District
The drink variety, casual atmosphere and slightly older, hipper crowd at Liquid Café made it instantly and wildly successful. Almost overnight it became the hottest hangout in town, the joint of choice for Indians and Cavs players and homegrown celebrities like comedian Drew Carey.
— “Mr. Nightlife,” by Shari M. Sweeney, Oct. 1998
Today: East Fourth
Michael Symon’s second incarnation of Lola opened last October, kicking off a year of growth that has made the street unrecognizable to anyone who hasn’t visited lately.
East Fourth Street may prove to have no off-season.
- “Best Of Cleveland: Best Nightlife,” by Jim Vickers, Oct. 2007