Today I write about an absolute institution on the west-side. Not far off on the west side mind you, just on the other side of I-75/I-74. I venture to guess that 90% of the people in this town have driven on the particular stretch of highway that overlooks its' neighborhood and just assumed there was nothing of consequence down below. How wrong they are.
Weber's Cafe is a quiet oasis on Dremen Avenue just off of Beekman St. in Cumminsville. You drive back to it and you're parading through an old working-class neighborhood with old homes, old churches and an outlying crop of old businesses. It was probably bustling and crazy back in it's day before the highway cut it off from the rest of the world, and probably deep into the 70's and early 80's too because of the factories that boomed there. Today, it's quiet, but Weber's, because of its' loyal regulars and old-timers who remember the better days, still has its charm and ambiance. It's one of the only bars in town (I imagine) that closes early in the evening and closes on the weekends too. It adapted it's hours based on their clientele. You want the Weber's experience? Get there Monday-Friday between 11:00am and 7:00pm.
When you walk in, whether it's through the front door or through the car-port in back, you find an impeccably clean time machine. Old beer memorabilia, trophies and pictures from softball teams in years past, and the sense of the little neighborhood cafe you sat on your daddy's lap visiting when you were a kid. The owner is George, and you'll find him behind the bar serving up lunch and beverages to the crowd who are all friends of his. He's been the owner for decades now and he took it over from another gentleman who did as he does. He's more of a fixture in its' appearance than anything hanging on the walls. It's his life, and the friends who visit from day-to-day are an important part of it. You almost get the sense sometimes that it's not a public place, but more like a clubhouse that George runs, or even a hideaway bar in someone's house that everyone has been invited to hang out at. When you visit, notice all of the fox statues and the "Treb-De-Fox" icons woven into its' fabric. Ask George about it. It is in itself, a story about Weber's history.
Like any other little neighborhood joint, the prices are unreal and the character is priceless. Not difficult to have a cheeseburger and a couple of beers for under $7.00. Maybe if you're lucky, one of the regulars brought in his homemade pickles that will adorn your plate. Every month on the first Wednesday, rain or shine, 100 degrees or a 100 below, you can get a New York Strip, grilled with a baked potato and a salad for under $10.00. It's tradition. George handles the grilling. Weather is not an issue.
If you love this town (which I do), and you love history (which I do), then the Weber Cafe's are iconic stops that need to be made. I'm not saying it's necessarily where you want to be on a Friday happy hour in the summer, but it's certainly where you want to be on occasion, imagining a different time and losing track of yours. The Enquirer recently started a feature called "52 Neighborhoods" in which they talk about a different neighborhood each week in a light that most people don't see. Go to Weber's once, and that'll be exactly what you get in the West end.