Dearing’s Restaurant, lauded by the Call & Post as “Cleveland’s Pride,” was one of the most popular Black-owned dining establishments in the Midwest. Owned and operated by Ulysses S. (U. S. or “Sweets”) Dearing, the restaurant opened in 1944 at 1035 East 105th Street and was one of several Dearing eateries over the years. The restaurant was beautifully decorated and air-conditioned, making it a good place to work and an even better place to eat. In 1949 another Dearing’s opened in the spacious dining room of the popular Majestic Hotel at East 55th Street and Central Avenue. By the 1970s Dearing’s would have four different locations around Cleveland.
U. S. Dearing was known as one of the nation’s most widely famed Black restaurant men. Originally from Washington, Pennsylvania, he began his restaurant ownership by moving into a hotel in Pittsburgh, formerly known as Calloway Hotel, in March 1930. Dearing rejuvenated the restaurant, serving the same high-class grade of foods as at his future establishments. Eventually he moved to Cleveland where he managed three Green Book-listed businesses over the course of the 1930s and ’40s—Cedar Gardens, Mason’s Farm, and the Blue Grass Club. Among his own restaurants, the best-known was located at 1035 East 105th Street.
Dearing’s Restaurant featured an extensive and elaborate menu but was most widely frequented for its shack fried chicken and “Soul Dance Time,” which occurred every Thursday to give Clevelanders a mid-week opportunity to dance and enjoy music. The restaurant offered fine home-style food, hosted many events such as farewell dinners, retirement dinners, and Memorial Day breakfast. Dearing’s sold only the best of meats and freshest of vegetables, all while maintaining an affordable cost for the public. With the restaurant open 24 hours a day, Dearing Jr. joined his father to help operate the family business in the 1950s. Dearing Sr. would oversee days, and Dearing Jr. was in charge of nights. In 1972, however, a devastating fire, thought to be caused by overheated cooking oil, burned one of Dearing’s establishments. The overall loss mounted to $40,000 in fire damages, although thankfully there was no loss of life.
- “Chef Jenkins is Old Timer: Even Dearing’s can’t Meet Prices of 1893.” Call & Post. July 25, 1953.
- “Dearing’s First to Get Sunday Liquor Permit.” Call & Post. March 20, 1971, City edition.
- “Dearings’ Fire Loss is $40,000.” Call & Post. February 5, 1972, City edition.
- “Dearing, Popular Restauranter, to Move into Fine New Quarters.” Pittsburgh Courier. March 1, 1930.
- “Exciting Thurs. Nite Set?: Soul Dance Time Rocks at Dearings.” Call & Post. September 18, 1971, City edition.
- “New Dearing’s Now in Majestic.” Call & Post. February 12, 1949.
- “Other 25 — no Title.” Call & Post. July 29, 1972.
- “Seasons Greetings from Dearing’s: Fine, Home Cooked Meals.” Pittsburgh Courier, December 24, 1949.
- “There has to be A Reason: Dearing’s Restaurant is Cleveland’s Pride.” Call & Post. March 13, 1954.
5 thoughts on “Dearing’s”
My grandfather would be proud to be a part of this project….as his granddaughter it makes me smile to see that there is written documentation that represents what he meant to the community.
Thank you, Leah. We have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about your grandfather’s contributions. He was active not only in his own enterprises but working with others over a long period of time. You’ll find mentions of him in connection to several other restaurants and clubs on this website. Please feel welcome to write us using the contact form if you might be interested in helping us add any old photos or have stories you’d be willing to share.
As a child, I remember going to Dearing’s almost every time we would visit Cleveland from Georgia. I have been dreaming about that sauce that was on the chicken ever since. Any chance you can share the recipe? 😁
Thanks for sharing this memory, Angela. I wish we knew the recipe! If you have other memories of Dearing’s or other sites on Green Book Cleveland and would like to participate in an oral history interview, we’d welcome you to write us using the contact link at the bottom of the page.
I am 71 and reside in Seattle, Washington but I was born in Cleveland Ohio.
East 105th St. was right at the end of my block called Somerset
I enjoyed many meals from Dearing’s and snacks On the way home from school or picking up chicken for my aunt Evelyn on occasion.
I will never forget the flavor of that chicken …
It rivals KFC… but no one can understand this unless you know who and what Dearing’s was.
I went to school with one of the Dearing’s children as we attended Harry E. Davis Junior high
He’d stop and get chicken for us for free ….. his parents owned it
We’d enjoy it and venture to my home in the middle of Somerset Street ….. and play piano for each other it was 1964.
We were 13 years old