Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Pre-kids, my wife, Alice, and I ate out a lot.  We mostly went to dives. That was our hobbyDives as low as Krisplee on East 82nd Street and Euclid Avenue, and Albino’s at West 44th Street and Lorain Avenue.

At home, Alice cooked a lot of tofu.  That’s why we ate out a lot.

We don’t go out much now.  I can’t stand the long waits, the so-s0 food, the noise.  I’m my dad.

Alice published a restaurant guidebook, Alice’s Restaurants, in 1981.  The book sold particularly well at the airport bookstore.  Alice’s oddest recommendation was the cafeteria at Metro General Hospital.  She liked the beef stroganoff and Viennese tort there.  (Alice was a nursing student.)

I liked Draeger’s, an ice cream place at Van Aken.  I wasn’t into balanced meals.

Here are a couple recommendations from the book:

Alice, 1977

(Still around)  Balaton, Corky & Lenny’s, Flat Iron Cafe, Mad Greek, Mamma Santa’s, Hot Dog Inn.

(Dead)  Zosia’s, Gerome’s, Art’s Seafood, It’s It Deli, Vegetaria, Radu’s, Aurora, Draeger’s, El Charro.

When we had our first child,  our eating out petered out.  Alice wrote a baby book, but never published it.  I can’t remember what the book was about, other than babies.  Oh, it was The Bye, Bye Book — how to  prepare your kid psychologically if you left town for a day or two.

Our kids — now grown — became foodies.  Maybe we left them home too much.  A lot of 20-somethings became foodies.  A baby-boom friend described his grown kids’ religion as Foodism.

Alice in stains

Alice — the original Foodist — sold street food.  She never made a dime, but she made a name for herself.  In the mid-1980s, Alice was the first to sell sushi rolls in Cleveland.  This was at the Coventry Street Fair.  Few locals knew what sushi was.  Alice made vegetable rolls.  She grossed well, but her expenses were high.  She paid a Korean-American friend, Mike, to help.  Mike lent an air of authenticity — not that he knew anything about sushi.

Alice did tabouli at the East 115th Street Fair.  Tabouli was a loser.  Why?  It wasn’t that good.   And a Cadillac with musicians playing in the trunk  —  next to Alice’s booth — was a lot more entertaining.

Alice sold falafel at the Coventry fair.  She called that operation Queen Alice’s Falafel.  We ate a lot of falafel because she was always tweaking the recipe.  She did falafels for a couple years.

Alice is talking tacos lately.  Our son Teddy is talking pad Thai.





Carl Goldstein, a landlord friend of mine, wants to be a docent at Home Depot when he retires. He goes to Home Depot at least twice a day, six days a week. That’s more than 600 Home Depots visits per year. Carl owns and manages double houses on the East Side of Cleveland.

Carl Goldstein, 2011

He said, “Home Depot saved my life. Before they came to town, I used to go out to Builders Square on Wilson Mills. That was the ruination of my life. After Builders Square, I would take the freeway to DIY on Chagrin, and then to Seitz-Agin [hardware] on Lee. And I still wouldn’t have everything I needed!”

Carl worked at a plumbing supply store for seven years; he sold hot water tanks, boilers, Flushmates and plumbers dope. Carl’s father was a plumber in Flint, Michigan. Carl has a collection of Corky toilet flappers and other odds and ends in his truck. He gave me a Niagara water-saving shower head. ($5.13 from Woodhill Supply. Too specialized for Home Depot.)

I bought more Niagaras. I have about fifty now. I switch shower heads when tenants move out. (Bad business to switch shower heads on current tenants.)

Carl wants Home Depot to hold a storewide scavenger hunt. The first contestant through the Home Depot check-out line with all the correct items wins. “I’m a shoo-in,” Carl said. “Second place would be Marc Apple.”

“Marc Apple?”

“He’s a Cleveland Heights contractor,” Carl said.

There are two Jews of Home Depot in Cleveland.

Read Max Apple’s The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories. (Max Apple is not related to Marc Apple.)

Next: The Jews of Home Depot (Atlanta): Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.

I wrote about Alice, hot weather and money at today’s CoolCleveland website.


Alice and dance leader Daniel Ducoff on the front page of the Cleveland Heights Sun Press, 7/12/12.  (Well-written article about Yiddishe Cup by Ed Wittenberg. Photo by Jim Olexa.)

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1 lucy { 07.18.12 at 5:57 pm }

wow – first comment on this posting / my first comment.

good timing on this posting. while I was reading this, teddy texted me, asking where we are eating this weekend when he visits.

2 Kenny G { 07.19.12 at 9:14 am }

I recall a festival at Cain Park. We were walking down a long trail – sort of in the woods – and all of a sudden came across you and Alice, with a huge kettle of tabouli. Sort of reminded me of a witch’s brew in a fairy tale.

Later on, for years at the Coventry Fair, I’d see Alice, or both of you, at a booth of school parents selling some food item, like sushi. The workers were persistent but I usually didn’t buy whatever it was – not worth it.

As for the final photo above[from Sun Press], Alice might “look” happy, but it looks like the old caveman activity – Man captures and drags off woman….

3 Kenny G { 07.19.12 at 9:51 am }

Speaking of vintage architectural hardware, Bert, how do you handle it if old knobs in your older buildings no longer stay in, due to the threads in the knobs or spindles becoming too bare?

I’m finding door hardware at Home Depot, etc. are like a different world – mainly whole assemblies with locks, whereas one would probably have to change the entire door (typically bad news in a ’20s building) instead of just replacing knob(s) and/or spindle.

Our best selection of old door hardware, Antique Arcade and Antiques in the Bank, is closed indefinitely, due to the owner’s death and some legal hassles, apparently.

I went to Nooks n’ Crannies (sp?) and, after spending a long time there, we came out with a set of knobs and spindle (all old, of course) that basically work, but it was a big effort.

I was going to go to that shop within the Bazaar place at Brookpark Rd. and W. 130th, but didn’t have to – they have pretty interesting old hardware.

Maybe that Habitat store? Otherwise such antiques around Cleveland are hit or miss (antique malls, etc. – will it fit? Can it be returned? And other problems).

Do you keep a collection of old door hardware on hand?

Oh, Historic Houseparts (in Rochester) and similar businesses in other cities – we could sure use you here!….

4 Bert Stratton { 07.19.12 at 10:54 am }

To Kenny G:

re: old door knobs.

I’ve never had to replace a door because I couldn’t get the lock to work.

I use two locksmiths who are very familiar w/ 1920s door knobs and locks. Cuyahoga Safe and Lock, and Hobby Key Works.

Cuyahoga Safe is in Lakewood, and Hobby Key works out of his house in Wellington, Ohio. They both travel.

I keep some old parts around, but not many.

5 Kenny G { 07.19.12 at 11:04 am }

Thanks. I’ll try to keep track of these names – particularly the closer one.

6 Jack { 07.23.12 at 6:23 pm }

The Jews of Home Depot would be a good photo project

7 Bert Stratton { 07.23.12 at 6:52 pm }

To Jack:

I agree. Good photo project: baby-boom Jews who work with their hands and shop at Home Depot. There are a few of these guys around.

I recently read a lament (in the NY Times?) about the decline of craftsmanship in America. Kids play with computers now instead of cars.

I just found your homemade, lathe-turned baseball bat. I didn’t throw it out. It’s in the garage.

8 Kenny G { 07.25.12 at 9:47 am }

There was “Mr.” Kaplansky, our former dentist, who worked many years in the carpet/flooring department at Severance’s Home Depot. Gave up career as dentist, then tried restaurant business in FL, then came back and got into this. Haven’t seen him lately; he most likely retired.

9 Kenny G { 07.25.12 at 9:47 am }

I should say, he actually headed the department at Severance.

10 Jeff Moss { 07.31.12 at 4:44 pm }

Try Cedar Center Hardware on Warrensville Center in S. Euclid and keep your money local!

11 Jeff Moss { 07.31.12 at 4:45 pm }

Lenny has plenty of parts for old houses, including spindles and door knobs!

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