|Old 97 Café on Kenmore Blvd.|
Old 97 Café for Drinks with Friends
by Joanna Wilson
A new acquaintance recently recommended that I check out one of her favorite places to enjoy a drink. She described a wonderful old building in an unassuming neighborhood, a classy place with an easy atmosphere, decorated in gorgeous wood. When she revealed its location--Kenmore Boulevard--I knew this place had to be an old-school neighborhood bar and I needed to experience it for myself.
|My view from sitting at the end of the bar--a swanky wooden bar upon which rested my martini.|
What I am just discovering but many people already know is that Old 97 Café is a popular place for cocktails. Open since the 1940s, the neighborhood Irish pub has been under new ownership for the past several years specializing in cocktails--including martinis. The drink menu includes microbrews, and cocktails, but the bartender assured me she could make me a martini to suit any taste. My guest and I lapped up a specialty cocktail named Mr. Wilson (I remember orange juice, cranberry juice, and rum), followed by another: a Lake Erie Monster cocktail (vodka, pepperoncini juice, and olive juice--a variation on a dirty martini that we loved!). Never wanting to leave, we also ordered from the food menu (consisting mostly of appetizers) and were delighted with a chicken quesadilla and a pizza made with tandoori bread.
|Friends gather at the bar for a cocktail and conversation.|
But I think what made my first visit to Old 97 Café more special was the warmth and friendliness of those inside. Not only was the bartender very happy to speak with me about the many drink options but she seemed delighted to share the history of the bar. Other patrons seated alongside us joined in the conversation and it actually felt like what I always imagined a neighborhood bar should be like. I didn't share with anyone that I had any intention of writing about my experiences for this blog--everyone seemed to be behaving like this as if this was a typical Thursday night at Old 97. As we spoke, one gentleman made a sketch of my face on a small business card and gave it to me--an act he called sting art! I couldn't believe how nice everyone was, an oasis of class and cocktails in the middle of Akron.
|A private table in front of the window.|
Old 97 Café is only open Thursdays through Saturdays--but check their website's event page because they are often open on Wednesdays for live music. When we were there, Akron Ceili Band, traditional Irish music-makers, were performing. Old 97 also hosts jazz, rock, bluegrass bands, and more. I'm also told that when the weather warms, they have an open patio bar, a grill, and bocce ball. The next time you're there--don't be surprised if you see me. I think I've found my new favorite place to hang out.
Old 97 Café is located at 1503 Kenmore Blvd., Akron OH
Old 97 Café's website