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Music Stops at Pat’s in the Flats, Now Up for Sale

Pat's in the Flats [photo: ideastream]

For three decades Pat's in the Flats has been Cleveland's underground, garage band mecca. 

But now the club that helped break The White Stripes in Northeast Ohio has closed its doors and is up for sale. 

Pat Hanych behind the bar at Pat's in the Flats [photo: Jay Brown/jfotoman]

Pat Hanych, the namesake of the beloved dive bar, is calling it quits and saying goodbye to the corner of West Third Street and Literary Road, where her father first set up shop in 1945.

"In the beginning we were strictly a working-man's bar.  We'd open at 5:30 in the morning, catch the guys going to the mill to work and catch the guys coming off their night shift from the mill," Hanych said.

She started working in the kitchen with her mother washing pots when she was 11 years old.

"My mother believed if you were going to spend the money you better come and see where it came from," she said.

Pat's in the Flats [photo: ideastream]

Back then the place was called Pickles, but in 1951 it became Anne's Lunch, named for Pat's mother.  After serving the local mill workers lunch, they'd welcome them back after their shift was over and would close by 8 p.m.

"It was rip roaring back then.  We had the city incinerator plant across the street.  We had two concrete plants on either side of us.  We had the railroad.  There was plenty of stuff going on back in those days as far as working man traffic," she said.

Hanych attended Ohio State University but returned home to work at the family bar after graduating in 1963.

"To me it was a pleasure to come and talk to everybody, and meet new people all the time.  I had customers I met when they were first coming in at the age of 20, and I still see them to this day and we reminisce.  There's a whole history of different people that I've known for 30 or 40 years," she said.

Pat's in the Flats [photo: ideastream]

In 1988, the bar changed its name to Pat's in the Flats and changed its hours to accomodate a new offering: live music at night.

It started by accident when a local band started using the bar as a rehearsal space and the regulars were intrigued.

"As it turned out, even the workers in the area, where there was no live music at that time, to them it was something different, young guys playing songs that they had wrote themselves," she said.

Pat's in the Flats became a haven for local garage bands and the occasional touring group, including Detroit indie-rock heroes The White Stripes, which made its Cleveland debut there in 1998.

The White Stripes perform at Pat's in the Flats 1998 [photo: Jay Brown/jfotoman]

Thirty years later, time has caught up with Pat's in the Flats and with Hanych herself, who's decided to retire and sell her family's bar.

"I've been sick for one thing, and there's nobody to take over, so what to do?" she said.

Hanych is crossing her fingers that whoever buys the building keeps it a music venue.

Pat's in the Flats [photo: ideastream]

"I'm hoping that somebody's interested in carrying on.  The original stuff, because we never did any cover bands.  It was all original, mostly local.  It's a small venue, so you can perform without having a big draw.  You don't have to have a hundred people there to have a successful night," she said.

After three decades of hosting live music and more than seven as a family business, Pat's in the Flats is an iconic venue in Northeast Ohio history.

"I expected [Pat's in the Flats] to last maybe a year, two years at the most.  Well, here I am thirty years later!" she said.

View this post on Instagram #patsintheflats is up for sale. For more visit Applause.ideastream.org

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Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.