Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Urbas Cafe Part 2

The Urbas Cafe (circled) was next door to Heilman's Ranch House (at far right of photo).
Heilman's Ranch House closed on April 1, 1974.
Here is the conclusion of the article about the Urbas Cafe's closing that appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 9, 1974.

Lorain's Urban Renewal Dooms Popular Urbas Cafe (Part 2)
Staff Writer

PATRONS of the Urbas Cafe all have their own anecdotes to tell about their experiences drinking low-priced beer (30 cents for a large mug of Duquesne) and eating hard boiled eggs and beef jerky.

Like the time one city councilman, not long ago, stood up in the middle of the barroom and dropped his trousers to show how extended soaking in a bathtub to ease the pain of his hemorrhoids had affected the skin of his legs.

"Look at that," he exclaimed as news reporters and city officials sat incredulous around the table. "It's giving me pimples."

Or another recent incident where one slightly inebriated official had to be physically restrained from pounding on another after a hot exchange of insults and opinions about each other's duties.

All in all, however, the Urbas Cafe is a nice, sedate, friendly bar. It's the kind of place you can go to have a quiet drink. Where you can talk if you want or just sit and watch TV if you don't.

AND THE CLIENTELLE is not made up of exclusively of politicians and government officials.

"All kinds of people come in here," Helen Urbas said. "It's every kind of a bar. I think people like to come here because they see the same faces behind the bar. They don't see strangers."

Joe, Bernie and Helen all take great pride in the fact that their family has been in the tavern business for many years. "We're the third generation," Joe explained.

Their grandfather, the father of Mrs. Anna Urbas, was Alois Virant, and he built the popular old Virant Bar at 1700 E. 28th Street, now known as the Greenwood Inn.

The family lost the Virant Bar after the depression years brought hard times. "Mother and dad took a chance and relocated here in 1940," Helen explained.

WHEN THEY moved from E. 28th Street, the Urbas family brought with them part of the old Virant Bar. The dark, wooden cabinets where bottles of liquor now sit are from the old tavern, as are some partition walls with leaded glass windows.

Before the Urbas family bought it, the W. Erie Avenue building was a pool hall and restaurant. It was originally built in 1913, according to Joe Urbas.

Bernie maintained that they would like to relocate downtown if possible. "We wanted to get the option to buy the property," he said.

The Community Development Department, however, wants to sell the entire 17-acre downtown renewal project to one developer who would build and then lease out space to people interested in opening small businesses.

Prudoff said he is pleased to hear that the Urbas family is interested in coming back into a redeveloped downtown, but added that it would probably not be "economically feasible" for them to restart a small operation like they now have.

"RATHER THAN it being a town bar, they might change into a cocktail lounge and restaurant with room to serve more people and a broader clientele," he said.

Bernie said that if they do relocate they would like to save as much of the interior of the old Urbas Cafe as possible to retain its atmosphere.

"Customers keep telling us they want sections of the bar when we go," Helen said. "We just have to tell them it's going with us."

Special thanks to the Morning Journal for allowing me to reproduce this article.

1 comment:

Ken said...

It's funny that I don't remember Urba's at all. But I wonder: this place was pretty close to Visci's. Could Urba's have been the origin of Mr. Visci's cryptic nickname, "Urbs"? I guess we'll never know!