Leroy Robinson was the charismatic owner and proprietor of Club Ron-Day-Voo, a black and tan nightclub on Cedar Avenue that the Plain Dealer deemed “more pretentious than grammatical in spelling.” Robinson brought out all the stops when he opened his new club in 1942 because he had some experience in Cleveland nightlife. Prior to Robinson’s opening his own nightclub in 1942, he was a jukebox salesman who was embroiled in a scandal involving the owner of Sam’s Bar (5105 Woodland Avenue), Samuel Pinkus. Robinson allegedly threatened Pinkus and stated something bad was going to happen to Sam’s Bar because the bar possessed a non-union music box. Shortly after Robinson’s alleged threat, Sam’s Bar was bombed. Upon further investigation into the bombing, a judge determined that Robinson did not threaten Sam’s Bar and did not cause the bombing incident there. Despite enduring this wrongful accusation, Robinson decided to use his experience in the music industry as a jukebox salesman and open his own nightclub.
Club Ron-Day-Voo entertained Clevelanders with live music and superb meals from 1942 to 1949. Famous saxophonist Gay Crosse, piano player Chuck Ross, and fire dancer Rita Thomas all graced the stage at Club Ron-Day-Voo. There was a wide variety of live entertainment to keep club visitors coming back to the club. In addition, to live entertainment, patrons could also enjoy a nice meal in the dining room. The club served up some of the best food in Cleveland because of the adjoining Dearing’s Restaurant, which opened on September 3, 1943. It appears that Club Ron-Day-Voo’s visitors could order food from Dearing’s and enjoy the food at the club. Some of the items a patron could order from the restaurant’s all-electric kitchen were shack fried chicken, chops, and steak. Further adding to the welcoming atmosphere for all were Mitchell Studios’ life-like paintings of Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Col. Ben Davis for the club’s dining room.
Club Ron-Day-Voo was a popular nightclub until April 5, 1944, when a fire broke out at the club. The fire not only caused extensive damage to Club Ron-Day-Voo but also spread to the apartments above the club and Dearing’s Restaurant next door to the club. Henrietta Rosay was a barmaid at Club Ron-Day-Voo and she attempted to extinguish the fire but soon the fire got out of hand. Dearing’s waitress Geraldine Neville stepped in and saved Henrietta Rosay’s life. Rosay was hospitalized with severe burns to her face, arms, and back. Club Ron-Day-Voo’s waitress Mary Allen and Dearing’s Restaurant waitress Sally Thomas received minor injuries. At the time of the fire, the damage was estimated at $40,000.
Since the building that once housed Club Ron-Day-Voo was destroyed in the 1944 fire, the club underwent extensive renovations and reopened on November 9, 1945. When the newly renovated club opened, Leroy Robinson had Caesar Dameron’s orchestra, the Benny Miller Trio, numerous singers, and dancing sepia hip-shakers. The new club space could also seat 350 patrons and was outfitted with modern ventilation. It also had ample parking for those driving to the new club. The parking space was likely highlighted due to complaints that two clubs, Club Ron-Day-Voo and Cedar Gardens, were closed during the day and were taking up valuable parking on Cedar Avenue for customers of nearby businesses. Robinson had originally asked for “No Parking” signs to go up so that he would have a place for delivery trucks to unload club goods, which was not necessary in early 1945 since the club was undergoing renovations and received shipments. It appears that parking became permitted near the club during the day due to Cedar Avenue visitors needing more parking. Moreover, there was a restaurant that Robinson oversaw at the newly renovated club until 1947 when U.S. Dearing opened a restaurant in connection with Club Ron-Day-Voo, which paralleled the old setup between the two businesses before the fire.
Despite the renovation and updates to Club Ron-Day-Voo, it never became the Cleveland nightclub mecca it once was. One Call & Post commenter noted how the renovated Club Ron-Day-Voo’s atmosphere, clientele, and policies were different after the fire and not for the better. As a result, Robinson sold Club Ron-Day-Voo in 1949 and it became the new Amvets Post location. The Amvets Post hoped that by moving from their Central-E. 74th location to Cedar, having live entertainment, and Dearing’s takeout that they could get more Clevelanders to frequent the post. However, by 1951, the Amvets moved out and U.S. Dearing opened a new Dearing’s Eatery. Robinson’s Club Ron-Day-Voo was a popular nightclub in the 1940s that provided Clevelanders with a variety of superb entertainment and tasty meals.
- “Amvets Dark; Now Dearing’s Eaterie.” Call & Post, Feb 17, 1951.
- “On the Avenue with T.D.S.: May Comes and Goes.” Call & Post, May 23, 1942.
- “Grand Jury Probes Juke Box Racket.” Plain Dealer, Sept. 19, 1942.
- “Heroine, Scenes of Sensational Cedar Avenue Fire.” Call & Post, Apr 8, 1944.
- “2 Hurt in East Side Fire: Women Injured as Blaze Follows Explosion on Cedar.” Plain Dealer, Apr 6, 1944.
- “Judge Dismisses Blackmail Charges Against Robinson.” Call & Post, Jan 23, 1943.
- “Resent No Parking Signs, Cafes Closed, Essential Shoppers Burn, Ask how Come?” Call & Post, July 14, 1945.
- “Rita Thomas Carries Fire Dance from Blue Grass to Ron-Day-Voo.” Call & Post, June 7, 1947.
- “Robinson Denies Charges in Woodland ‘Juke Box’ Case.” Call & Post, Aug 15, 1942.
- “Ron-Day-Voo to Reopen.” Call & Post, Nov 10, 1945.
- “Swinging Down the Avenue.” Plain Dealer, Nov 11, 1945.
- “Waitress is Heroine, Saves Hysterical Barmaid from Flames by Quick Action.” Call & Post, Apr 8, 1944.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Aug 26, 1944.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Sept 2, 1944.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Sept 15, 1945.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Nov 10, 1945.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Dec 27, 1947.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post, Sept 3, 1949.