Most of the Case Western Reserve University community is probably not aware of an elegant, authentic gem located just east of campus on Lee Road between Mayfield and Cedar Roads— the Katz Club Diner, which has been open only since May. The concept combines four establishments in one unified brand— a classic, upscale diner with all-natural and locally-sourced artisan offerings, a comprehensive coffee bar with pastries and breakfast specials, an evening vintage cocktail lounge speakeasy and an online-order take-out service. The Katz Club Diner is housed in two joined authentic American diners from 1949 and 1950, brought in from New Jersey and Pennsylvania by Steve Presser of Big Fun on Coventry.
Owner Doug Katz (of another restaurant named Fire) proudly explained: “We want to offer the same authenticity Fire on Shaker Square offers in its locally-sourced concept, but at a lower pricing point. We aim to make almost everything in house…we make our own sausage, bacon, ice cream, and nothing is processed. The quality in the diner is unmatched in the community and is convenient to University Circle. We’re building a neighborhood here for all—it’s the perfect meeting point.”
Most people, as it turns out, have never experienced a pre-1950s diner atmosphere: Most imitation diners that have popped up across America since then use a concept model that no longer did most preparation in-house and relied on prepackaged and processed meals. In an atmosphere that is both classic and elegant, Katz Club visitors are treated to interiors of stainless steel and authentic wood trim, along with original photos of historic and modern Cleveland.
Highlights on the diner menu include the signature triple-decker Katz Club sandwich with roasted turkey, locally-sourced bacon, lettuce and tomato, finished with a fried egg. “Pair this one with our homemade coffee shake,” Katz recommends.
Also not to be missed are the roast-beef sliders. The diner even has options for vegetarians: the eggplant reuben with house-prepared sauerkraut and local swiss cheese on rye is a popular choice. The diner section attracts all members of the community, from Cleveland Heights locals and businesspeople, to Cleveland Orchestra concertgoers, to CWRU faculty and students. Open from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. on weeknights and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, it is a gathering spot for all times of day.
The coffee bar uses premium direct-trade beans from Rising Star Coffee in Ohio City and the program features dedicated full-time baristas and latte art. The coffee counter features a full line of pastries prepared by the in-house pastry chef— the to-go morning special of $5 features a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with a premium cup of coffee. Stay-in diners should try the branded Katz pocket-pies (think homemade natural poptart). The homemade pies and cookies on display are additionally a unique visual spectacle. For students hoping for a place to study, the location offers free wifi and parking, as well as a late-night scrambled egg special.
The bar-car speakeasy is the most special section of them all: An exclusive lounge with upholstery on the doors and a setting that evokes the elegance of the early aviation age combined with authentic old America. Open Wednesday to Saturday evenings from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., the lounge features classic cocktails while the wine and champagne offerings remain at retail pricing. This spot is bound to become a popular romantic date spot or weekend gathering place for friends in the 21+ crowd.
A special feature of the Katz Club is its online takeout service. Students wishing to grab a quick bite from the full menu can order online and time pickup. Catering for pick-up is also available for bigger functions. The website also features rotating daily specials as an added bonus.
Edit: Sept. 27, 7:28 p.m.: The diner is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and the bar car is open until 1:30 a.m between Wednesday and Friday. Katy Witkowski, Arts & Entertainment Editor