Relee Recreation Club, later renamed to Relee Lounge and then Relee Club (also known as Club Relee), opened its doors to members only in October 1946. Relee Recreation Club began its tenure at 8301 Central Ave, a location that previously housed Woodmen’s Hall. Relee faced some legal challenges in March 1947 when they were found to be lacking all of the requirements for bonafide private organizations. As a result, Relee’s D-4 license for alcohol sales was revoked and Relee closed their doors. Within a month, it was reported that The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Croix de Guerre Post No. 1646, took over the previous Relee space at 8301 Central Ave.
Around 1948, Relee relocated to the first floor of 899 E. 105th St. At various points in time, the second floor of 899 E. 105th St. was home to other businesses such as Marconi School of Radio and later Mildred’s Beauty Lounge. Relee initially faced some challenges in securing their D-4 license again at their new location due to the proximity to Columbia School. Eventually the license was secured and Relee flourished as an environment suitable for both daytime socialization as well as nightlife.
Throughout its tenure at both locations, Relee experienced several changes in management, from Cleveland bigshots like Hot Sauce Williams’ Eugene Williams and Call & Post’s journalist Bob Williams to locals such as Herbert Oliver, Charles Curry, and Robert “Ace” Wilson. Regardless of the changes in management, Relee was a popular cafe, nightclub, and event space of which numerous social clubs, collegiate, and professional organizations rented out. A host of entertainers, such as Rip Bivins, Prince Arthur, and Slim Gaillard, provided lively music and entertainment to its patrons. The illustrious Relee provided Black Americans in the late 1940s into the early 1950s with an inviting space to dance, party, dine, and hold their events such as galas and cabarets.
- “7 Liquor Club Licenses Threatened As State’s Investigation Continues.” Call & Post. March 8, 1947.
- “Bob Williams Takes Over at Relee Recreation Club, Pledges ‘New Deal.’” Call & Post. November 5, 1949.
- “Display Ad 9 – No Title.” Call & Post. August 14, 1948.
- “Display Ad 19 – No Title.” Call & Post. January 22, 1949.
- “Display Ad 22 – No Title.” Call & Post. October 26, 1946.
- “Display Ad 23 – No Title.” Call & Post. November 30, 1946.
- “Display Ad 24 – No Title.” Call & Post. February 4, 1950.
- “Display Ad 25 – No Title.” Call & Post. May 5, 1951.
- “Display Ad 36 – No Title.” Call & Post. June 25, 1949.
- “Relee Club Runs Regular Weekend Shows, And Cabaret Dancing.” Call & Post. December 10, 1949.
- “Rip ‘Hell on Cedar’ At Relee, Sun.” Call & Post. December 3, 1949.
- “School Board Rejects Liquor Spot Near Glenville’s Columbia School.” Call & Post. March 6, 1948.
- “VFW Post Takes Over Club Relee.” Call & Post. March 29, 1947.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post. April 5, 1947.
- Williams, Bob. “Bobbing Along with Bob Williams.” Call & Post. January 28, 1950.