Saturday, June 13, 2009

FROM THE BACK OF THE HOUSE: Memories of a Steak House Clan

Press release received:

June 2009 – Broadview Heights’ author G. L. Rockey lets it all hang out in a compelling first person account of Cleveland’s landmark restaurant JIM’S STEAK HOUSE.

Located in the celebrated Cleveland Flats, Jim’s Steak House was the place to go for people from Cleveland to London and beyond. Thousands of patrons from boat captains to movers and shakers celebrated anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, graduations, special memories, and more at JIM'S. While dining on their favorite choice cuts of beef and famous hash browns, they ogled the fabled Cuyahoga River, the Terminal Tower, and giant oar boats easing round Collision Bend.

Adopted into the JIM’S family at an early age, G.L. grew up living in the apartment above JIM’S and witnessed, from the back, top, and front, what some call the “hospitality business.” This is his – often humorous, sometimes poignant, always revealing – story of the clan that was part of Cleveland’s restaurant scene for some sixty years. Beginning with the restaurant’s founding in 1930 by Greek emigrant, James Kerkles; his marriage to much younger Hilda (later to be known as The Queen of the Flats), the story recounts Hilda’s years of nurturing (after James untimely death) a restaurant and her deceased sister’s son, Raymond Rockey. Raymond (Hilda called him “my boy”) was named manager of JIM’S at the age of twenty-three. Thrust onto a restaurant stage, tending his "baby that never grows up,” he, in more ways than one, indulged in the glow of a famous restaurant’s “big time strut and glow.” Amid the JIM’S family ups and downs, the backdrop for the story is the JIM’S building–moved, remodeled, finally located at 1800 Scranton Road in Cleveland’s Flats–it housed both business and family with the clan living upstairs and the business flourishing downstairs. After Hilda death, Ray dumped into a sea of money and booze, some twenty years later, the empire depleted, Ray died. A failed stab at keeping the neglected restaurant open, less than two years later Jim’s Steak House closed its doors forever.

Inserted throughout the narrative are photographs, newspaper articles, and illustrations that verify and chronicle a colorful chunk of Cleveland’s local history and culture. No small potatoes, Cleveland author Les Roberts' detective Milan Jacovich has a fictional office next to JIM’S. In real life, Roberts hung out at JIM’S and has written an introduction to this story.

G. L. is the author of three novels: The Journalist, Time&Chance, and Truths of the Heart. Also an anthology, Bats in the Belfry, Bells in the Attic - From the Back of the House published by Heritage Books 1-800-876-6103 - -

[BILL: This was my parents' favorite restaurant and they celebrated all their anniversaries there.]

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