By Joe Tone
on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 9:36 AM
A new incarnation of Cleveland’s legendary Euclid Tavern (11629 Euclid Tavern, University Circle, 216-231-7066) opened last weekend. The first week was a low-profile one, climaxing with a Friday night set by the expert Grateful Dead emulators of the JiMiller Band, a mainstay at the bar from 1981 until '87, when Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox breezed into town and filmed some of the rock movie Light of Day there. By night's end, the tables were cleared, and the dance floor was open -- and packed. ...
"The veneer has changed, but the vibe is still there," says Miller, who recorded three live albums there and will return for shows Friday, February 29 and St. Pat's Day. "People traveled to be there, from California and Michigan and Colorado and Pennsylvania. People told me it isn't quite the same, but it has the same vibe.'"
After reading last week’s short article about the bar, one reader called in to point out the Tavern was commonly known as “the Euc,” rhyming with “puke.” That was an appropriate nickname given the bar's cheap pitchers, which were sold in gallon orange-juice jugs after Case students pilfered all the actual pitchers.
With all-new ownership, the new Euc isn’t too much like the old Euc. The stage has been moved to its original location opposite the bar, but that bar now has a more upscale selection of booze, from red wines to bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale. Original fixtures like the big Frank Zappa poster and ornate Mardi Gras artwork were lost over the years, which sucks. And a lot of fresh air and even more fresh paint have whitewashed the Tavern’s dingy biker-bar past.
But some vintage flourishes remain. In the men’s restroom, between sheets of bright new drywall, a column of exposed brick stands out, still decorated with graffiti to immortalize hardcore band MDC and the Case chapter of fraternity Phi Kappa Theta.
Though you can’t tell from the dance floor, an industrial-strength kitchen is the club’s biggest new feature. A snug dining room in the rear is walled off, providing a small barrier for the noise from the band. We didn’t actually eat there yet, but the burgers and panini sandwiches smelled great. Check out the menu here. The kitchen’s open daily, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., depending how busy (or not busy) the club is.
Over the 90s, the Euc became a must-play pit for Gen-X bands like the Jesus Lizard and Pavement. But the bulk of last weekend’s crowd were holdovers from ‘80s, now a little older, grayer, and much better dressed. Even with Miller’s band in the house, the room had many more dress jackets (we stopped counting at six) than tie-dyes (we don’t remember any, in fact, but it was a long night). Expect more of the same this weekend. Tavern regulars Alan Greene and Mr. Stress return Saturday, January 2. Set starts at 9 p.m., cover $5 -- but free if you show up earlier. See you there. -- D.X. Ferris