Monday, November 14, 2011

Hazel's Restaurant Then & Now

Although this blog is supposedly dedicated to Lorain County nostalgia, I seem to rarely venture outside my hometown Lorain city limits. So every once in a while, I try to remedy it with a visit to another fine city, in this case Elyria.

I'm embarrassed to say that I still don't know my way around Elyria very well. It's probably how the spouse (who grew up in Sheffield Lake) felt when I took her down Oberlin Avenue in Lorain early in the dating game. "I have no idea where we are!" she confessed to my great amusement and disbelief.

I'm not that bad in Elyria – I can find the town square, the hospital, Cascade Park, and Stewart's Appliance– but that's about it. Finding anything else means Google time!

That's what I did to find the location for Hazel's Family Restaurant, shown at the top of this post in an undated photo from an old city directory (from the 1950's I believe).

I had assumed the restaurant, located at 615 Cleveland Street, was long gone. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that the business is still there and apparently doing well (although I was disappointed that the cool signage had been updated).

It was quite easy to shoot south down Abbe Road, turn right and arrive at the restaurant.

According to its sign, the business has been there since 1945. The little research I could do revealed that originally, at least, there really was a Hazel: Hazel Olmstead, who was the manager and, I assume, owner (although there seemed to be many Olmsteads involved with the enterprise in 1947).

The widening of Cleveland Street in front of the restaurant robbed it of its sidewalk and treelawn. Also, over the years the trees have unfortunately disappeared, and another building is crammed next door.

Hazel's proximity to the junction of so many highways probably contributed to its success over the last sixty-some years. I'm just glad to see any business manage to survive that long in Lorain County.

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