The FLAT IRON CAFÉ, located at 1114 Center St, was established in 1910, serving a working-class, largely Irish clientele in the Flats along the Cuyahoga River. In the late 1800s, the building, which was originally a four-story hotel, caught on fire and the top two floors were destroyed creating the two-story structure that exists now. A blacksmith's shop commandeered the first floor, and, over the years, the fishermen and sailors working on the Great lakes used the rooms on the second floor as accommodation.

There are two theories as to how the cafe got its name. The most common explanation is the building's design. Its footprint resembles the shape of an old flat iron when seen from above. The other theory is that the structure is identical to New York City's Flatiron tower, a landmark 22 story building completed in 1902.

When the building became an Irish Café in 1910, sailors and the Flat Iron's owners still used the upstairs for accommodation over the years. For a number of years, several Irish families owned and operated the Café.  The former owner, Izzy Cohen, who had operated the cafe for about 20 years, created the “staples” of the menu, such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes on Monday, corned beef & cabbage on Wednesday, and the great Lake Erie Yellow Perch every Friday.

During the 1950s, '60s, & '70s, the Café was a very popular spot. Anyone and everyone frequented the joint. Entrepreneurs and tradesmen alike would gather at the Flat Iron Cafe.  Long tables stretched the length of the room, so customers dined in communal, cafeteria-style.  

As the FLATS shifted from an industrial center to a food and entertainment district, the clientele at the Flat Iron Café grew and diversified and the interior was modified to accommodate the growing business. The Café was closed and refurbished the cafe in the fall of 1988, using the upper floors for more dining space including a smaller bar. The downstairs was cleaned up and revamped but still retained the original style of the old bar. Table service replaced the old cafeteria model, and the menu was improved, but the old staples are still available for lunch and dinner as well as for special banquets. The Cafe also purchased a shuttle bus to move parties to and from the nearby downtown area, and to and from the cafe for lunch and dinner as well as to take groups to local sporting events and concerts. 

The Flat Iron Café is a member of the ONE HUNDRED YEAR CLUB OF THE WESTERN RESERVE.


Morgan McCommon