What inspired you to start your own business?
Charles Dickens, a wonderfully inventive comic artist, won his first literary fame with The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Published in serial form, the monthly installments described the humorous adventures and misadventures involving a gallery of eccentric characters. In it’s day, The Pickwick episodes were described as having made the commonplace uncommon. Today, in much the same way, the Seinfeld episodes are described as “Much Ado About Nothing.” A little known fact is Dickens journeyed to America in the 1800s and on one of those occasions visited Cleveland. We like to think that when Dickens is in town, he visits Pickwick & Frolic.
Pickwick & Frolic stands on the site of what was once The Euclid Avenue Opera House, built in the 1800s. For Cleveland, the landmark was the grand marvel of its day, frequented by thousands from across the region and beyond. Demolished in 1922, the S.S. Kresge Building was constructed on the site. Pickwick & Frolic, now located in this historic building, still boasts the original sandstone foundation of the Euclid Avenue Opera House that remains preserved along the left stage in Hilarities 4th Street Theatre inside Pickwick & Frolic. We consider this sacred ground’s providing live entertainment again on a site that once boasted some of the world’s best opera singers.
Ironically, Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant and Club opened on September 6, 2002, exactly 127 years to the day the historic Euclid Avenue Opera House opened in 1875.
Short Vincent, a street one block in length (like E. 4th today) between E. 9th and E. 6th streets, was once a colorful center of downtown Cleveland nightlife. The street was filled with restaurants and taverns. By the late 1920s, the local saloons, restaurants and other businesses became a gathering place for gamblers, sports figures, racketeers, lawyers and newspaperman. Short Vincent offered good food, underworld gossip and the odds on anything. It was home to such historical Cleveland landmarks as the Theatrical, the Taystee Barbeque, Frank Ciccia’s Barbershop, The Frolic Show Bar and Pickwick Restaurant.
With all this history in mind, owner Nick Kostis liked the rhyming nature of the name Pickwick and Frolic. Remembering the history of Short Vincent, East 4th Street was the last location in Cleveland that could recreate the colorful live entertainment district from Cleveland’s past. Adopting the historic names of former Short Vincent restaurants and clubs and the fact the Dickens visited Cleveland, Nick decided that Pickwick would become known as our Restaurant and Frolic is what you do inside.