Thursday, May 8, 2014

Benny's Restaurant Part 1

September 12, 1968 ad from the Lorain Journal

Benny's Restaurant – also known as Benny Hart's – first appeared in the Lorain City Directory at 4900 West Erie Avenue around the mid-1960s.

Before that, the business was located in Downtown Lorain and was known as Ben Hart's Show Bar at 651 Broadway. (I wrote about the nightclub here and here.)
The move out to the West Erie Avenue location seemed to occur shortly after the relocation of the Ed Blahay Transportation from 4900 West Erie out to E. 28th Street in South Lorain. Ben Hart apparently took custody of the motel on the property as well, as Benny's Motel appeared in the directory about that time.

Several restaurants preceded Benny's at the 4900 West Erie location, including Page's Restaurant (in the late 1940s), Stan's Truck Stop (in the early 1950s) and Smith's Restaurant (late 1950s until early 60s). It's unclear whether they were located in the same building as Benny's.

Like Ben Hart's Show Bar, Benny's was a nightclub that featured a variety of acts including exotic dancers. Some of them (like Little Egypt, show in the ad at the top of the post) had popular careers. Others (such as Jerri Carr, shown in the July 23, 1966 ad from the Journal at left) left a very small internet footprint and are almost impossible to research.

Tomorrow: the sad tale of Benny Hart's murder

By the way, the performer known as Little Egypt featured in the ad at the top of this post had a pretty good career belly dancing on television.

Her real name was Lorraine Shalloub. She was the great-granddaughter of the original Little Egypt, who created such a sensation at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Miss Shalloub performed on a variety of shows on the 1960s and 70s, including the Tonight Show and even Batman (at right), in which she danced at a campaign rally being held for the evil Penguin, who was running for Mayor of Gotham City.

No comments: