This Wednesday, my column will feature some real Cleveland Goodfellas from the late 1970s and early 1980s. They used to come into Casablanca Restaurant where I worked any number of jobs when I was on summer break from college.
While I was researching the article, I ran into this image of the tiny bar that was in the basement of the Casablanca.
Seeing that picture was like opening the gates of my mind to a bevy of ghosts. The basement was creepy and old--and big--the little bar shown here only filled a portion of it. It was not well lit. Much of it housed hulking restaurant equipment and furniture.
I hated going down there. But the ice machine was in a dank corner, so I had to go down there a lot. I'd get the ice and high-tail it back upstairs.
When I worked there, the basement barroom looked much as it does in the photo, but it was rarely open. In its heyday, it was called the Sports Bar and Trophy Room. That's when the restaurant was still Cavoli's--a well-known place on Cleveland's west side.
Cavoli's evolved through the years and changed owners and names. I'm pretty sure additional characters were painted on the walls of the Sports Bar in an attempt to keep up with the times. But the little joint could apparently hold on for only so long. By the time I worked there, the downstairs club was all but defunct.
Stop back tomorrow for a link to the article that will unleash some of my dusty old Cleveland ghosts unto you. There will be other cool links as well. In the meantime, here's a scene from Goodfellas that sends chills through me. It reminds me of that basement bar. It reminds me of the real Goodfellas.
Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project.