Verlie's Cafe 1964 - 2008
Verlie's Cafe has been in my family since 1964. I worked there off and on through the years. When my brother Lenny died in 2004, I stepped up to help my Mom run the bar full time.
I wanted to create a haven for music and creativity.
Not because I am so noble, but because it was the only way I could tolerate being there all the time.
I've never been a fan of traditional bar fare: loud mouth drunks screaming in my face, fighting over the pool table, and other such ignorant outbursts is not my idea of fun. That is why I installed the no Jerry Springer policy @ Verlie's, and incorporated live music on a regular basis. Another little known fact: Verlie's has always been a green bar, long before it was in vogue. We recycled all cans, bottles, cardboard, and use cloth towels in the bathrooms.
There are so many factors that contributed to the decision to close the bar. All of which amount to the universe screaming @ me that I am on the wrong path.
The neighborhood has declined, and the economy is a factor. it doesn't help to be in a city that Forbes Magazine deemed one of the top 10 fastest dying American cities.
Everyone cites the bar down the street "El Tropical" as the culprit. Yes it's true there has been a lot of trouble down there. Many people coming to Verlies via I-90 have experienced attacks and shoot outs just trying to get down the street. While that has been a problem, the trouble caused by that bar is just incidental. The owner of El Tropical was never out to hurt Verlie's, or shut me down. But there were others who were, and that's the worst of it.
City inspectors coming in and saying that our placards are no good, and then others saying they are. Getting the run around, and spending many days in court and at city hall getting nowhere. Having to go downtown to PROVE that we're a bar. WTF! it's been a bar since 1939, and it's been Verlie's since 1964! Police showing up threatening to arrest me because someone is playiing an acoustic guitar in the bar, while people are smoking crack, fighting in the street, and shooting each other right outside the door.
It wasn't only city officals, there were others who went out of there way to squelch my efforts. Their motivations are beyond me.... revenge, jealousy, sexism...you fill in the blanks. I don't really give a shit anymore. After all we can't have anything of beauty or creativity in the "Ghetto". So it must be stomped out. And ignorance prevails...
Then there is the matter of my family, which is two fold. My family has been there for 3 generations, and I guess I felt a responsibility to keep it going. There's a lot of memories there, but that's just what they are....memories. I am the only one left! I am sitting down there dodging bullets (literally), and for what? Truth be told that bar killed everyone in my family, and others too. Just take a look at the 25th anniversary pic by the front door. Most of those people drank, and drugged themselves to death as well. I am the only one that is getting out alive. I feel like a load is lifted off off my back, and I know it is the right decision.
It wasn't all bad, there were so many great times too! I wanted the final day to be a celebration of the good times, and to go out with a bang. The final bash had to be on a Sunday night. The jams were always the most fun, and that would give all the musicians that have played there over the years a chance to rock the house one more time. Thanks to John Petkovic from the Plain Dealer, and D. X. Ferris from the Scene for helping to get the word out.
The final day couldn't have been better. People came from miles around to pay their respects, and remember good times @ the bar. The phone was ringing all day with well wishers, some of whom I never even met. There were some folks that had never been in the bar and heard about it downtown, so they hopped on a bus and came out. Cars were driving by and stopping to wish us well.
Early in the day brought a lot of people from my Mom's generation. Some of them I hadn't seen in over 20 years, like the Augustine family that used to live across the street in the 60's and 70's. Other people who's Fathers and Grandfathers used to drink with my Father and Grandfather. Everyone had a special story to share about Verlie's.
The plan was to start the music early. Thanks to Jeremy, and Andy for hanging all day and night and helping me out with that aspect of it. Andy also did some recording, I will post info about that on the recording page of the site, when it's ready. By nightfall jammers were piling in for the last Sunday jam ever. There were too many to name, it turned out better than I could have imagined. Thanks to everyone for making the last jam and the last night @ Verlie's one to remember. Here's what you said:
- Verlie's Cafe, I have too many memories in here to count. (I'm sure the number is in the thousands) This place will live on forever. Thanks to Vickie and all my friends for a great ride! - Grashoppa
- I am having the best birthday of my life right here @ Verlie's Cafe where I had the best times
- It is a sad day in Cleveland history. I know I didn't come as often as I should have. It was always a comfort knowing music was still alive @ Verlie's Cafe. I hope you're doing all right. I know it wasn't an easy decision to make. I'll miss you - Jamil
- Aaah it's so sad. We had very good times here @ Verlie's. We wish you the best of luck. Please keep in touch. Love you - Jack and Suzy
- You are a good keyboard player. Good luck
- I will miss playing @ Verlie's. Who else will put up with a pain in the ass like me - Andy
- Thanks so much for the memories , the music, and the beer - Bob the bike guy
- Good bye Lenny! Our times are the best - Love Ken
- Jeremy and Sue met in this bar, love forever
- We all have our memories. Verlie's will live on in our hearts. See you all around - Sue
- Verlie's was one of the best places in Cleveland to see and hear live music, goodbye - Michael Perez
- What a great finale!!! Thanks for the good times Verlie's - one love Dreadie Momma
- Damn! I wish i knew this existed before tonight! Great venue, great vibe, and even reasonably priced brews. - Keith
- Thank you for all the down home times that kept me and others anchored. And rest assured that this end of an era will be the start of another - Regards Joy
- John (Mr. Wonderful) was being a smart alec as usual. He noticed the very nice looking girls on the opposing dart team and said "I think i'll get two of those 20 year olds" His wife calmly replied "Honey, you're not wired for 220" - Trish
- Grew up here. Mom was raised upstairs, and we lived next door for ever. Great place, Good times.
- We were die-hard fans of the bar, and we came to the last day. End of an era - Ron and Cissy
- Good bye to my favorite bar in the world -Big Al
- Vickie, you gave us a cool little place to hang out and play. Your support of all kinds of different genres of music through the years was overwhelming. I think your folks would have been proud of you. All the best to you in all you do. Thanks Vickie, I had fun getting one more Verlie's fix. - Love Becky Boyd
- The secret recipe is Carolina's Rice!
- Love you guys! Verlie's rocks! good luck Vickie - Katie
- You said you were gone, but that was a lie, made out of the angst we shared together. We live in you but like anything accept the good with our bad.
- I love and will miss Verlie's. but we can change and we can be better. So who knows, Verlie's in '0?
- Verlie's, it is sad to see it go, it was my first bar. It will be the bar I always compare every bar to. I will always remember BBQ chips, pop, bowling, fishbowls, Kesslers, my family, and fun - Tom Verlie
- My first show @ Verlie's I saw King, Irreality, DOHM, and Insurrect! All for the first time! - Michael
- Vickie, I am not too much for words, but I will say that jammin here is one of the best times of my life - Mello
- Vickie, I would like to thank you for everything. I will miss all the good times we had. Thank you for the love, and the music. It will always be a part of me - Shaun Bennett
- What can I say about 1964? I was 4 years old....the Beatles invaded America. Little did I know that Verlie's Sunday Liquor was also born. Our paths would not cross untill 2004.God bless this bar, a shining example of what was RIGHT with Cleveland and a reminder of happier times. I am proud to have drank here and Verlie's SL will live on in our hearts and livers for ever! - Love Dave Nemo
- Vickie Verlie is an acomplished musician who can burn up the keys with the best of them! She also has the voice of an angel, but angels can only soar if their wings are FREE!!!!!!!
- why did Bob Crane cross the road?
- I worked at Verlie's, and I am telling you they are the best people. They were my family, I feel like I lost my home - Taco Tina
- The last Verlie's blog tonight. 12 hours here, jammin, hangin, partying, recording, smiling. I will miss this place, such a great musical ride! Let the music live on - Andy
- It's been over 30 years, good people and lots of fun times. It's not too far to walk when the snow flies. It's sad to say goodbye. Such a good place will be missed - Stella
- I wil miss Verlie's, I've been going there for a long time. It's the place where I got reaquainted with my aunt Mardi, who worked here. Thanks to Vickie and her family who have brought us many good times - Libby and Bill
- Even my harps are crying. How do I replace this? Deacon Blue
- The last jam opened the heavens above! One last tribute to a family who was loved. Goodbye Verlie's - L Long
- Memory Lane....in 1974 Pappy made me promise I would come in after my wedding. I did and he had 4 bottles of champagne waiting for my wedding party. Vickie's band played @ the reception - Carol
- May your luck be like the capitol of Ireland, always "Dublin" - Robert
- When our dart team the flighties was loosing, Tammy would flash the other team, and she never wore a bra
- Vickie, I love you! - Cheryl Gannon
- Hey Vickie, Roll on my friend - Jack and Suzy
- Verlie's was like home. Laid back, comfortable atmosphere. Vickie truly is the best host around. Thanks for the great times. This place is legendary - Doc's Ferment
- I sure will miss Verlie's! Where am I going to go now? Close to home and I always had fun! Vickie thank you for staying open as long as you did. I know it wasn't easy. Take care of yourself, and best of luck in what ever you do. I will miss you alot - Mary B
- I am sorry to see Verlie's close. i hada good times here and I am sure you did too! Sometimes we have to let go and take a chance. Most of the time it works out to be better for you in the end. Thanks for treating me with respect. Good luck in what ever you do. Please keep in touch - Christine
- Congratulations Vickie. We've had MANY times in this old place over the years - Car
- I walked in wiwth my guitar, I walked in with my sticks, I tried to get up on the stage, and get in the mix. I got the blues, and lordy, lordy, I got the blues. I wanna be a rock star, but all i got was the jam night blues. We'll miss you! - Jim
- I've done many a jello shot in this bar
- I only pay 2.00 because I'm an asshole - Alan
- To the best bar and boss, I will miss you - the Libonator
- Always in our hearts, always in our song! Rock on Verlie's!!! I'll never forget the great times and jams!! you will be missed - Drummer Mike
- Working @ Verlie's was a life experience that was amazing. If you never visited this establishment, you will always be missing that key piece of life - Maggie
- my my my, it's time for my girl to fly high in the sky. Keep rockin - Cat
- Going out with class was the theme. Don't be sad though she did it the way the family would have wanted. The music lingered tonight. When i closed my eyes, I imagined every year gone by, those who were here, and those who weren't. The heaven's opened tonight. with love - Linda Long
- Memories... the one thing that can never be taken away from us. even after 20 years some of my best "bar times" were at Verlie's. Lenny was my big teddy bear. Neighborhoods change, people move on. All the respect in the world to you for keeping things going through all the hardship and loss. Tempus fugit. Best of everything to you Vic! Lots of love and luck - Tami
- Some things are in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Some for a specific reason, and we learn the lesson and move on. For a season, the lesson is harder and longer. We learn, move on. For a lifetime, these have the deepest impact, and change us forever. but treasure every one no matter how long they last, because they made you who you are