The Bar That Time Forgot

I’ve written about this dump before. When I visit my family in Cleveland, I always make a point to stop in for a few beers at The Suburban Inn on Bagley Road. It’s a cinder block building in a parking lot right next to a Shell gas station. “Bar” is too nice a name for it. “Bar” implies warmth and hospitality. Like on Cheers. If you’re in an establishment that only serves the kind of vodka that will give you a pounding headache and the floor is sticky and the air smells like stale beer, what would you call that? Purgatory? I like it.

When you open the door you’re hit with a massive billow of cigarette smoke—it’s like walking into a gas chamber—and a warning. The State of Ohio has outlawed smoking in bars but the proprietors of the Suburban Inn don’t give a damn what the State of Ohio says. A hand lettered sign cautions:

The Suburban Inn neither condones nor encourages smoking in this bar. It is your decision. You may be cited and fined by the State of Ohio.


I always thought the sign was a joke amongst the employees. The Law couldn’t possibly give a shit about a dive like The Suburban Inn? Could they? On the contrary. I read in an Ohio newspaper that the The Suburban Inn has amassed a whopping $49,000 in fines for smoking violations that they steadfastly refuse to pay. The most in Ohio! You go girl!

The law doesn’t know the half of it. Do you guys know what these are? They’re called pull tabs. This is the front.

This is the back, with tabs opened.
It’s (brace yourself) gambling. The Suburban Inn keeps a big plastic jug full of these things under the bar. They cost $1 each. You rip the three tabs open and you might win a little money. Take it from me, you usually don’t. Gambling is illegal in Ohio; even more illegal than smoking in a bar. They’d REALLY be fucked if they were caught with these things. When you lose, you put it on the bar and they’re swept up almost immediately. They don’t want the bar littered with pull tabs in case The Man walks in. There’s a special garbage pail they’re thrown into that’s emptied quite frequently.

Good thing The Man doesn’t read my blog, eh?

22 thoughts on “The Bar That Time Forgot

  1. there’s a local ‘tavern’ in my neck of the woods – they, too, have spit in the face of the fines for smoking. across the street from the theater, we’d wander over there in full make up after dress rehearsal – and they never batted an eye… one of the best bars in the area, you can still get PBR in a can for 50 cents on Thursday nights…

  2. Would you be surprised to know that i know exactly where that bar is? and that i’ve drank there a few times in my day? and that i drank there before i was “ahem” of legal age? I’ve lived a good part of my life in places like that and the only word to describe it is beautiful.

  3. Sid: Ohio is a somewhat puritanical place. At one point in the 1970s, one of its major cities, Cincinnati, was voted dry! No booze! That didn’t last.kykn: I have no idea what I was doing there but I continue to visit. Like a moth to the flame.Daisy: “Tavern” is a nice name. That means it serves food, too, right? And a 50 cent PBR? How do they make any money? Volume?Kono: I went to high school not far from The Suburban. Back then it was called Dragon’s, after the owner. I think it served minors back then, too. It lives!

  4. Bloody good for The Suburban, why should governments be allowed to get away with criminalising lifestyle choices? And, anyway, isn’t capitalism founded on the principles of gambling?

  5. When I was in 3rd grade -circa 1970-My dad owned a restaurant in Middletown Ohio next to the Moose Lodge. The old guys would give us soda and Jiffy pop (the good kind they cooked on a hot plate) let us play pool and give us pull tabs. They would pay us if we won too!! I still love those things!

  6. As soon as I read “When you open the door you’re hit with a massive billow of cigarette smoke” I lost interest. I could not go into a place like that. When we moved from CA to NE two years ago the no smoking law had not been implemented in NE yet so when we walked into a restaurant the smoke hit us like a wall. We weren’t used to it and did not want to get used to it. I used to smoke and so did my hubby and we sympathize with the ones who are unable to stop. I just like myself enough to take care of my lungs. By the way we saved your post on the barbecued ribs and will be trying them this weekend. My mouth is watering already.

  7. When I read the reference to PBR by daisyfae, I had to stop and think. I was pretty sure she was NOT referring to Professional Bull Riding, which is what popped into my head right away! (Can you tell I’m a ‘real’ cowgirl???)It’d be kinda tough to smush one of those big ole ornery bulls into a little tin can… 😉

  8. You’re killing me here, UB. The Suburban was, I believe, where I first got served alcohol. I remember it well. I was 11. My Mom dropped me off…ok – maybe I was a wee bit older, but let’s just say smoking and gambling aren’t the only thing they’re relaxed about. This blog is now broadcasting regularly from my hood and it’s a little freaky – where you going next, Mom’s house?

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