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NenaE

Cleburne Cafeteria

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Has anyone talked about the original location for Cleburne Cafeteria (in Bellaire now) being a speakeasy. The web page for the cafeteria talks about the old location, on Cleburne St., of course. ( I believe that would be Midtown, rt?) anyway, they said it had trap doors, etc. Is it still there?

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If you do a "search" for Cleburne, there are a few topics related to the place. Merge?

I think it is still in Bellaire (not Midtown). Good luck :D

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The original location was 1018 Cleburne (at Fannin). The location is just south of the intersection of Main and Alabama. The satellite photo shows a building with a roofline similar to that of the building shown on the Cleburne Cafeteria site, so I'm guessing the building is still there - though I don't see the address being used by another business. As noted on the Cleburne Cafeteria site, the building (which the Mickelis family bought in 1952 (or 1955, per a Chronicle article)) was previously owned by Anabelle Collins and Martha Kavanaugh, and appears to have been operating as "Cleburne Cafeteria" since at least 1941 (another Chronicle article says it was opened in the 1930's).

HCAD doesn't show a 1018 Cleburne, but does list a 1012 Cleburne. Listed as built in 1930, and used as retail multi-occupancy. Could be the same place.

I'll look to see if I find anything about "Napoleon's" - it does sound interesting.

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Has anyone talked about the original location for Cleburne Cafeteria (in Bellaire now) being a speakeasy. The web page for the cafeteria talks about the old location, on Cleburne St., of course. ( I believe that would be Midtown, rt?) anyway, they said it had trap doors, etc. Is it still there?

Trap doors, sounds kind of cool. It must have been a real drag to be drinking, dancing & partying when all of a sudden the cop's bust in the door! Talk about ruining a buzz! I think they normally were given a tip if the fuzz was on the way though. Now that must have been exciting to have every one rush to a secret hideout when they showed up and they place appeared as a normal business. All that trouble because booze was a no-no. That's nothing compared to now-a-days drugs, etc.

All this talk about Cleburne's has me craving Turkey/gravy white rice w/brown gravy.....mmmm good! :D

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I have a messy folder full of pictures so I may be off, but is this the place?

According to the link Nena provided yes! or rather the front or other side of that brick structure. All of these years I never knew that was Cleburne at one time! Wowie! :o

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Thanks guys, sevfiv, if that's the one I'm thinking of, it's close to the old Sears :wub: , and it once had a halloween costume shop in the front. OOOHHH...I hope it's not torn down. :( Is that photo recent?

Thanks mariar for the info, the google earth shows no building at that address, maybe it's the one on the corner, jives with the picture,...hope so. "They" better leave it alone! and Vertigo :lol: , you never let me down, imagine someone not letting us drink! :angry2: Sounds like you need to head over to Dinner Bell...yumm.yumm.

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Yes - that appears to be it. I haven't had much luck finding out more information about Anabelle Collins or Martha Kavanaugh. The HCAD entry mentions the Kiesling family as a previous owner, but I haven't otherwise been able to tie a Kiesling (maybe descendents of Adolph E. Kiesling?) to the property. Hoping others have more luck. It looks and sounds like an interesting building. Cool that it's still standing (I'm assuming it is as the awards shop has a website). That side of the building shown in the picture is pretty strange looking.

The awards shop uses the address 4102 Fannin, which isn't in HCAD. It used to be Texas Theatrical Supply, which I think may have been associated with Frankel's.

Edited by editor
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I am guessing that the HCAD record is for the entire building - and yeah, a previous owner was "AE Kiesling Estate"

Here is an older photo from the Cleburne site:

ih63xj.png

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4110 Fannin, which I'm guessing is the one-story building to the left in the old photo, was also once owned by the A.E. Kiesling estate. The only old record I've found related to that address is a 1921 newspaper ad:

"FOR SALE - Cadillac 53, excellent mechanical condition; tires new, good paint and top. W.K. DUNLAP, 4110 Fannin st. Houston. Phone Hadley 3733."

I guess the city directories would probably be the best source for more information.

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Yes - that appears to be it. I haven't had much luck finding out more information about Anabelle Collins or Martha Kavanaugh. The HCAD entry mentions the Kiesling family as a previous owner, but I haven't otherwise been able to tie a Kiesling (maybe descendents of Adolph E. Kiesling?) to the property. Hoping others have more luck. It looks and sounds like an interesting building. Cool that it's still standing (I'm assuming it is as the awards shop has a website). That side of the building shown in the picture is pretty strange looking.

When I was a child, my mother and I would sometimes have lunch at the Cleburne Cafeteria after a morning of shopping downtown. To me, the rather theatrical interior of the Cleburne was fascinating. In the center of the dining area was a huge faux oak tree trunk that terminated at the ceiling. Attached to it were branches with leaves and wisps of Spanish moss. The ceiling was painted dark blue with silver five-pointed stars. Thematically, the interior related to exterior of the building - apparently an example of that strange "Fairytale Style" trend in architecture of the 1920's-30's. Possibly an outgrowth of Tudor Revival? - architectural historians out there will know.

My mother considered the food there to be only so-so, compared to that of the Rice Hotel Cafeteria or the Forum.

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When I was a child, my mother and I would sometimes have lunch at the Cleburne Cafeteria after a morning of shopping downtown. To me, the rather theatrical interior of the Cleburne was fascinating. In the center of the dining area was a huge faux oak tree trunk that terminated at the ceiling. Attached to it were branches with leaves and wisps of Spanish moss. The ceiling was painted dark blue with silver five-pointed stars. Thematically, the interior related to exterior of the building - apparently an example of that strange "Fairytale Style" trend in architecture of the 1920's-30's. Possibly an outgrowth of Tudor Revival? - architectural historians out there will know.

My mother considered the food there to be only so-so, compared to that of the Rice Hotel Cafeteria or the Forum.

What is so unusual at least to me, is that this structure must have been a home once as stated above "K Estate". This old photo gives evey indication that it once was a house, though a bit cramped in its space? Wonder what in the world made them transforn into an eatery? Perhaps this area was not nearly as hustle & bustle as the nearby downtown was so it was ok as far as crowds and parking. :mellow:

Has anyone noticed that the architecture seemed more European/Amsterdam style as the nearby home/apts I called the Anne Frank house? Coincidence?

Did anyone one state the year this building was built? Pre WWII maybe?

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Has anyone talked about the original location for Cleburne Cafeteria (in Bellaire now) being a speakeasy. The web page for the cafeteria talks about the old location, on Cleburne St., of course. ( I believe that would be Midtown, rt?) anyway, they said it had trap doors, etc. Is it still there?

One, among many of places I have never eaten ... All the more amazing (to me) since I am a Luby's regular.

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One, among many of places I have never eaten ... All the more amazing (to me) since I am a Luby's regular.

If you like Luby's then you might like Cleburne. Personally, I dislike both of them. I miss Allbritton's.

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Has anyone talked about the original location for Cleburne Cafeteria (in Bellaire now) being a speakeasy. The web page for the cafeteria talks about the old location, on Cleburne St., of course. ( I believe that would be Midtown, rt?) anyway, they said it had trap doors, etc. Is it still there?

This is one of my favorite first posts on HAIF. I recently ran across these pics of speakeasies on the Life pic link, although not directly related to the Cleburne/ Napoleans in Houston, gives you a glimpse of what it was like then. Fascinating time period, looks like a whole lot of drinking going on, during prohibition. :lol:

link: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&...G=Search+Images

Wow, I take some of that champagne in pic 4, all sizes available; these are some of the longest descriptions of all the Life pics I've read.

Edited by NenaE

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A link back to today's posting on Swamplot:

HOW LONG does DiverseWorks plan to stay in the new Midtown location it announced yesterday? A press release put out by the 30-year-old performing and visual arts organization doesn’t say, but DiverseWorks had been listed prominently as one of several groups meant to anchor the proposed Independent Arts Collaborative building planned for a now-vacant block at 3400 Main St. The new DiverseWorks spot in a 5,500-sq.-ft. portion of the former Cleburne Cafeteria building at the corner of Fannin and Cleburne is just 7 blocks south.

http://swamplot.com/the-new-diverseworks-cafeteria-plan/2012-08-09/

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Oh, please Say it isn't So! ...one of my all time favorite buildings painted white with black trim... No, no, no!

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I can respond to this questioning a knowledgable way since I was practically born at the first location. My parents owned this restaurant which was located on the corner of Cleburne and Main St., between Main and Fannin. The building is still there, but painted white (don't know what they were thinking.) If you know where the old Sear Robuck building was, this is a block away, closer to downtown. Someone asked if it was an old speak easy. The answer is yes. When my brother and I were young, we played and found the secret pathways and old remnants (like a chalkboard with bets scribbled on it). The door that went straight upstairs had an old style speakeasy door with the small door at eye level to see the person before they unlocked the door to let them in. It was a well known story in regard to the history of the building. Somewhere along the way the Annabelle's opened the restaurant and my parents bought it from them somewhere around 1957-1958. Someone said the something about an old location in Bellaire. This is misinformation. There has never been a Bellaire location. At one time there were three locations, one in Sugarland, on in Kema and the current one on Bissonnet. It city limit line, between West University and Houston. By the way, I am currently writing a memoir that mentions the history. Maybe one day, I will write about my family and the history of the Cleburne, but my brother has a great deal of information in the current Cleburne entry area.

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22 hours ago, The Cleburne GIrl said:

 The building is still there, but painted white (don't know what they were thinking.

100% agree with you about the paint (and also the STUDIOS building on Eagle St. with its garish 70's supergraphics).
Isn't this the building that had faux boulders on its west façade for years? I was always fascinated by them and puzzled as to how they came to be there, and was sorry that someone thought they should be removed.
(and thanks for the info, The Cleburne Girl. I look forward to more of your recollections.)

Cleburne.PNG

Edited by dbigtex56
added picture

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