JERMAN’S CAFE, located on Cleveland’s East Side at 3840 St. Clair, has seen two World Wars, a New Deal and one Indians World Series win. It is possibly the oldest bar in Cleveland. Jerman's, which opened in 1908, was a speakeasy during Prohibition and except for a two-year closure, remains a family business as of 2019.
Slovenian immigrant John Jerman and his wife Frances opened the spot in 1908. Their daughter Mitzi was not only born in the building, but worked there her entire life, and eventually took over the control of the business. Mitzi lived in the building until she passed away in 2006, at the age of 92. After Mitzi’s death, the bar that was once named one of America’s Top Ten Dive Bars, was taken over by her daughter, Mary Therese “Susie” Myers and her husband, George. When asked if Jerman’s was the oldest bar in Cleveland, then-owner Susan Myers told the CLEVELAND SCENE in 2013. “I can’t answer that; there’s quite a few bars in the city of Cleveland. I wouldn’t even think of claiming something like that.”
The Myers couple followed in Mitzi’s warm, welcoming tradition until they died; Susie from cancer in 2014 and her husband George a few months later. Their deaths left Jerman’s in a state of limbo. Michelle Zamblen and Charlene Block, the great-nieces to Mitzi Jerman and second cousins to Susie Myers, inherited the business. The sisters decided to reopen the place but then were informed by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission that they were about to have their liquor license revoked due to inactivity. They were able to retain the license and proceeded to renovate the bar. While they had to replace the original floor because of water damage, they were able to maintain the original interior which is representative of its age featuring a Victorian tin ceiling and other authentic interior design features. Renovations also included cleaning up the back room and fixing up the kitchen for the launch of a completely new menu. The family reopened the bar on January 14th, 2017, which would have been Mitzi’s one hundred and third birthday.
Jerman’s Cafe is a member of the ONE HUNDRED YEAR CLUB OF THE WESTERN RESERVE.