Toledo Night Life, 1979

Listen, I’ll level with you all: I was sixteen years old on July 29, 1979, so “nightlife” to me at that time was hopefully a Coke bottle someone had filled with booze from their dad’s bar. But this is a great article worth sharing nevertheless.

The title from that day’s paper? Night life is alive in Toledo.

It was all part of an amusing set of stories about singles and dating in Toledo. But the highlight for me was all the old place names, but not necessarily memories, since I didn’t start hitting bars until I was 17 18, because in Ohio in 1981, you could definitely get yourself a pitcher of 3.2% beer.

A simple, yet effective ad for Charlie’s Blind Pig from The Collegian, the University of Toledo student newspaper, of October 1, 1984.

Of course there was one place you could always go if you were 17 and wanted to drink: Charlie’s Blind Pig at Westwood and Bancroft. My recollection is that the ID laws were rarely enforced there. I was disappointed to find the site is an empty lot now.

Even when I was old enough to drink legally I wasn’t exactly hitting the high spots. The Midwood at Monroe at Midwood was the quiet, cheap type place I liked to patronize (and still do). Like most everything else within a mile of Toledo Hospital, it’s gone: the site has been consumed by Promedica (in this case, a sign)

I’ll hit the high spots for you:

Biddy Mulligan’s, on Reynolds Road, where the music “is basically Irish,” if you can imagine that. Not for me: I was most likely at Phil Donahue’s Eating Place, which, The Blade tells me, never reopened after a 1996 fire.

The Coach House, at the venerable Cricket West Shopping Center on Central Ave. east of Secor. Cricket West has been around a long time (1961, in fact) and somehow managed to survive a three-alarm fire on a cold December night in 1970 which destroyed much of the shopping center.

From the front page of The Blade of Dec. 6, 1970.

The owner at the time found out about the fire as he was driving by after a wedding reception. The Blade said that “hundreds of spectators, many of them children, in pajamas and bathrobes under heavy coats, braved the frigid temperatures to watch,” but regular readers of this site knew that already.

The Dixie Electric Company in Perrysburg, which drew heavily from Bowling Green State University. There were apparently a lot of Dixie Electric Companies (An Entertainment Utility, if I recall correctly): Columbus had one, Kettering and even Parma). Even though the manager said they didn’t push disco, it still had a floor lit from underneath.

Max and Erma’s at 5319 Heatherdowns Blvd. They’re still around, though not at that location. “Max and Erma’s is especially popular with young singles because it’s a good place to meet other singles, Mike Dowden, manager, said.” Pretty square observation.

Before the Ottawa Tavern was the Ottawa Tavern, it was the Commerce Guardian Bank, shown in this 1925 photo from the Bentley Collection, courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, obtained from

The old Ottawa Tavern at 1845 W. Bancroft was where students “have been known to come in and do their homework,” according to the story. Oh, come on. The Ottawa Tavern is now on Adams Street downtown but I doubt it could possibly capture the charm of the old bank building, now demolished, shown at right.

University of Toledo students didn’t have a lot of places to “study.” There was the Brass Bell right at Bancroft and Campus in the shopping center with Ace Drugs, Campus Barbers and of course Shorling’s 5-Star Market, which closed in 2016 after 88 years. But the area was bereft of bars, though there was always some activity south of the railroad tracks at Secor and Dorr.

The “Bentley Collection” referred to in the photo caption refers to the A. Bentley and Sons Co., which built a number of important buildings in Toledo, many of which still stand today.

Renee’s at 1521 S. Byrne. Renee’s was still fairly new at the time but I think everybody talked about Renee’s. They did a lot of advertising on radio.

The two Steak and Ale Restaurants were singles spots? 2009 S. Reynolds Rd. and 4325 Talmadge Rd.? I remember the one on Talmadge because I was constantly cruising up behind the businesses on Talmadge to go to either Hi-Q Billiards (right across the street from Par 3 and next to New York Carpet World) or Norm Sobecki’s Showcase Lanes to play pinball.

Obviously by now you have realized Charlie’s Blind Pig was not in the list.

Alas, I have no recollection, firsthand or otherwise, of Rusty’s, Scaramouche, Shawn’s Back Door, Thunderthigh and Lightfoot Lounge (“We have singles from 21 to 95 in here,” ewww) Twenty-One West, or Tiffinanny’s. The nice folks over at have pretty sharp memories, however. There are plenty of Toledo night club ads on this Facebook page.

This of course doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of nightlife in Toledo, especially back in the old days. Ever since I started reading old copies of The Blade I’d see ads for, and references to, the Aku-Aku Room at the Town House Motel, Bancroft at Monroe. It was owned by Irving “Slick” Shapiro, who died in 2002. It was only there ten years, from December, 1960 until 1970, but from the obit: “There’s no question: He ran the last of the great clubs in this town,” said Seymour Rothman, a retired Blade columnist. “There’s never been any place like that since. Not even close.” Another place I’d love to go back in time and set foot in, if it were possible.

But at any rate, you may have learned a thing or two you didn’t know. Feel free to add your own. Comments are moderated but usually the turnaround is pretty quick unless you’re inquiring about improving my rankings on Google, which are actually fine.

A December, 1960 Blade ad announcing the opening of the Town House Motel and the Aku-Aku room.


  1. Bill Cummerow

    here’s another interesting link to some aku-aku stories:

    my dad tuned the piano at the aku-aku and i sometimes went with him. i remember meeting count basie and other entertainers. i also remember watching all the beautiful girls hanging around the swimming pool on a weekday afternoon. ahem.
    dad had a lot of slick shapiro stories, none of which i remember other than the fact that dad liked him because he paid and he paid on time.
    that said, i really enjoy this site. keep it up!

    • james p vanetten

      I worked part of the year in Toledo from 1979 to 1981. I was in my late 20s. Loved Thunder Thighs and Ahmeds dance party which was on Sundays if I remember correctly

    • Kookiefrasier

      There was a place, I believe on Michigan Avenue heading south out of downtown that seemed bathed in purple lights. It was on the east side of the corner but it’s been too long ago to know what cross street it was. It was rumored to be a male gay bar and had a sign identifying it as the “Twilight Zone.” This was in the late 60’s and we would past by with all the doors locked so nobody would grab us if we were forced to stop for the light. We scarcely knew what that meant and we only talked about it in whispers and noted it as a Toledo landmark. None of us ever dared go inside, we were under 18, but the curiosity never made us bold enough to investigate. I don’t remember if gay sex was still illegal at the time but it was a place, in our minds, that was nearly on the level of being haunted. It was a strict taboo at that time and none of us to my memory ever asked our parents or any other older person about it. It was just a secret that was somehow public knowledge. Something that a carload of young people would cautiously cruise by and identify as a curious point of interest and pray they didn’t catch a red light at. I never knew for sure if the story was true but it certainly was a noted location. How times have changed.

    • Kendra

      So fun finding this article so many fun memories. Loved Renee’s and Dixie Electric Co. Used to go there underage lol just to dance so does anyone remember Kip’s club on Reynolds at Heatherdowns? It changed names many times. Was it Kip’s south before it went country renamed Dallas?

  2. Toledo History Box

    Thanks! That is a GREAT link.

    My grandparents basically lived right around the corner at “Phil Manor,” a brick apartment building at Robinwood and Bancroft, and we used to pass the Town House/Quality Inn there all the time. By then (late 60s, early 70s) the area was still sliding and the digging for Interstate 75 made it a pretty memorable mess anyway.

  3. Mark

    I worked as a sommelier at Tiffinanny’s in 1979. It was a wine only bar (about 120 different bottles) with one beer, Grolsch. The food was limited to a cheese plate ( bonbel, port salut, port wine cheddar, brie and apple slices. There was live music on the weekends, but it was more if a date place than a singles bar.
    Great article. Good memories. I moved out of state that year.

    • Michael Mainwold

      Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your memories of Tiffinanny’s. I came to Tiffinanny’s frequently back in the mid to late 1970’s, and you are correct, Tiffinanny’s was a date place. It was unique and very special. The owner created spaces within his establishment just for couples partitioning tables with tall walls that split each table in fours to seat up to 4 couples per table. While I cannot recall the owner’s name, I recall his telling my then girlfriend and I that he named the place after his 2 ex-wives. Excellent wine and cheeses, and live music. All good memories.

      I went searching on the Internet in search of any photos of Tiffinanny’s. So far, I have not found any. The only references of Tiffinanny’s found are from those that either worked or performed there. I hope to find a photo or of it someday. Thanks again for sharing.

      • Kendra

        FYI Phil Donahue…yes his real name …died from a heart attack. His sister who took his then teenaged kids in tried to run it for some time for the kids. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out for them. I worked there for about a year or so in 83/85

  4. Erin Wolfram

    This is great! My grandfather was the owner of both Dixie and Renee’s! I am actually named after Renee’s, as I was his first grandchild. I can hardly find anything written about the old nightclub’s of the Toledo area. It has always been my secret dream to reopen Renee’s, at its original and only location. (Byrne and Glendale) The building is still there but has been vacant for many years. Thank you again for your highlights!!
    Erin “Renee” Wolfram

    • I.M. Coupler

      Ahmed’s on Sundays had $.10 kamikazes. We would go to the UT library to study, then off to Raceway Park for the last 3 races because you got in free after the 8th. Then around the block to Ahmed’s for the craziest Sunday night in the city. I have a playlist to this day called “Sunday nights at Ahmed’s. “. They easily played the best music. I’ve been to every bar on this thread but those Sundays were really a lot of fun. But the 8AM classes at UT the next day were always tough. !!

    • james p vanetten

      I loved that place. I went every Sunday when I was in town. I worked for Dupont on Tremaimsville and lived in Flint and would drive down early and check in to the hotel and then go to Ahmeds. Hot times.

  5. Glen Eason

    I miss the 20s, originally on Central Ave, then down town. It was a go-go bar with a great piano bar upstairs in the down town location. Used to go there in the late 60s, early 70s.

    • Tony L Gallaugher

      I worked at the pig at 18 years of age the summer of 89 Abe Ahmed and Kareem and najee I loved those guys they treated me like family the club was called the rocket when I was there

    • Randy

      Remember The Outfit that played at the Faba. Their shows were standing room only and every Thursday was quarter night for beer. Danny Hellou owned The Entertainers and was lead singer in the band The Entertainers in the early 70’s on Sylvania near Lewis. Fabulous band.

  6. Debby

    What was the name of the bar on Broadway, near the zoo? It was close to the water and I think you had to go down steps to get in. I want to say the Turtle Club but that was in point place.

  7. What about The Agora or The Red Parrot, or The Tender Trap, or The Players Club, The Garage, The Incinerator, Boogie Shoes, The Consaul Tavern, Heatherdowns Lounge, The Lair Lounge, Carlos and Charlie’s, The Glendale Inn,The Grotto, The Firehouse, The Michigan Tavern, The Country Palace,The Pied Piper,Merrimikkos, Kips, Murphys,The Arawanna Princess, Mad Anthony’s….I could go on and on!!!!

  8. Don

    How about Sylvia’s on King and Hawley, The Mirror ball room on Detroit Ave., The Gaiety Night club on Monroe St., The Zebra Ballroom on Summit St., Tbones/Bill Harts on Main St., The Carousel and Kathy’s Colonial on Monroe and 17th. I played in or frequented most of these clubs with the Whirlwinds and The Orbits.

  9. Napoleon Blue ICMC

    Jordan’s Place, The Tabbard, The Sheik’s, The Den, Frankie’s, Ladies Choice,
    islander, Byrngate, Crowsnest,Tropics, Green Rooster, Meeting Place, Mandos, Dobber’s and Scott’s.

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