Mercury Bar was a popular spot in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood and was quite notable in its prime. Its most influential owner, Howard Meckley, was one of the first Black people in the Cleveland area to be granted the D-5 nightclub license, and made many other strides as a Black business owner at the time. He took over the bar around 1946, and despite adversity from whites in his community, he managed it into an incredible commercial success for ten years. In 1956, he sold Mercury Bar to Bill and Melvin Blackmon, who had long operated El Morocco Lounge (a Green Book listing on East 55th Street), as he was ready to get out of the liquor business.
Mercury Bar was a popular spot for performers and out-of-towners to visit, but it was also frequented by organizations or clubs that wanted to have their own private parties there. There were a few private party rooms at the lounge; Les Voguettes social club had a function in one of these rooms in 1949 and were cited as having a very successful event. Another demographic that the lounge appealed to was sports fans, as they would go before and after games to keep their festivities going. Some notable sports lovers, Gather Walker, Walter Moore, and Samuel McAllister, visited the bar in 1947 and raved about their experience. There was also another space above the Mercury Bar called the Parisian Room that was operated by the same people. It was only open on Fridays and Saturdays and offered live music.
Mercury Bar was a subject of public interest multiple times. There were a few mentions of a particularly popular barmaid, Tina Crain, in multiple Call & Post articles from the years the lounge was open. One mentioned how Mercury Bar’s owners sent her on an all-expenses paid vacation, as they did for many of their employees, and others mention her superb service and contribution to the spirit of the lounge.
Aside from its personnel, Mercury Bar also garnered public attention through more negative means. For example, in 1947, the liquor permit for the lounge was reexamined after a run-in with law enforcement in which Meckley’s brother was allegedly being difficult when they tried to inspect the premises. They were able to retain their license, but the incident was publicized. There was another instance in 1956 in which someone attempted to rob Mercury Bar while armed, and even threatened the life of one of the hostesses, Zelena Baker. She was shot in the shoulder by the intruder but survived the incident. Howard Meckley shot Bennie Jackson, the robber, in an act of self-defense. There was a lot of attention surrounding the incident, which likely factored into Meckley’s distaste for the liquor business and may have influenced his decision to close the Mercury Bar soon thereafter.
- “Hostess Describes Mercury Bar Holdup.” Call & Post. December 1, 1956.
- “Les Voguettes Social Club has Party.” Call & Post. June 18, 1949.
- “Meckley Turns Mercury Bar Over to Blackmon Brothers.” Call & Post. September 15, 1956.
- “Mercury Barmaid Off on Idlewild Vacation.” Call & Post. August 29, 1953.
- “Photo Standalone 13 — No Title.” Call & Post. October 3, 1953.
- “Photo Standalone 31 — No Title.” Call & Post. November 19, 1955.
- “Sports Notables at Mercury Bar after Gloves Bouts.” Call & Post. February 15, 1947.