Friday, February 3, 2017

O’Hara’s Revisited – Part 1

O’Hara’s Beverage Spot as it looked in September 2016
On Wednesday’s post, I mentioned that there wasn’t much out there on Leavitt Road near W. 21st Street back in the late 40s and early 50s. But there was one business run by the O’Hara family that was in its early years, and is still around today.

You know it as the popular O’Hara’s Beverage Spot.

Ralph O'Hara
I had done a post on it back in February 2011 that briefly told how the beverage store business had started out as a poultry farm. But then last summer I received a nice email from Ralph O’Hara.

He wrote, "I want to thank you for the great history of my family business. My wife and I currently operate the business  and it is doing great. 

"I have spent all but ten years of my life on this property.  I am currently sixty-one. There are some other side stories about this property/business. 

"I would be more than happy to  tell you about them if you want to update the story.”

I couldn’t refuse an offer like that. And so – on one of the hottest Saturdays of last summer – I paid a visit to O’Hara’s Beverage Spot, where I enjoyed the hospitality of Ralph O’Hara and his wife, Beverly. 

I met Ralph in the store. Customers were coming and going, with regulars greeting him by name.

The store does a good business selling lottery tickets. “Did you know we’re the number one online retailer of Ohio Lottery tickets?” he asked proudly.
Ralph also pointed out that the store’s customers were not just looking for cold beer. His clientele actually have discriminating tastes in wine and craft beers.

After chatting in the store for a while, it was time for us to tour the grounds and talk about the history of the business. 

Ralph told me how his parents, Vance and Grace O’Hara, started their poultry business after Vance was discharged from the service. They raised chickens and turkeys.

Then they bought the property where the business is today. Vance built a two-car garage where he conducted his sales transactions.

That garage still stands today. Taking me behind the beverage store, Ralph showed me that the white portion of the building was the original garage structure.

We then walked to the rear of the O’Hara property where Ralph pointed out a white building (below) that’s currently used by a church. However, it had a very different function when it was part of the O’Hara poultry business.

“That’s where the chickens were slaughtered,” he explained.

Ralph also told me that at one time the grounds behind the store were known as O’Hara Park. There was a rental hall, and it was used for union picnics.

"Of course, they had to buy their beer from O’Hara’s,” Ralph smiled. 

Next: the rest of the story

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