The Manhattan Restaurant, located on 9903 Cedar Avenue, had been owned and operated by Beulah Norton Penn for ten years when she married African American businessman Fleet Slaughter in 1952. Slaughter, who was the former manager of the men’s locker room at the Shaker Heights Country Club and a World War II veteran, was determined to make it in the restaurant business. In 1950, Fleet Slaughter opened and operated his own restaurant that was just feet from the Manhattan Restaurant. Beulah Norton Penn had begun operating the Manhattan Restaurant after acquiring what was once the Horseshoe Bar. She reopened it, advertising new management and a new name, the Manhattan Restaurant. By 1946 the restaurant became a fixture in the Green Book, a recognition it enjoyed for the next two decades.
After marrying, Fleet and Beulah joined forces, ending the competition their respective restaurants had generated. The Manhattan offered the community a 24-hour, homestyle restaurant. In 1953, the Slaughters opened a new bar in the restaurant and added “Tap Room” to the business’s name, offering the neighborhood a sophisticated nightlife atmosphere late into the night (2:30 AM). An article in the Cleveland Call & Post that year dubbed the Manhattan Restaurant and Tap Room, “Perhaps the finest Negro owned and operated restaurant in the Northern part of Ohio.”
The Slaughters added the Eldorado Room cocktail lounge in 1956. A variety of Black clubs or community organizations in the ’50s hosted a lot of their annual dinners or balls at the Manhattan Restaurant, utilizing the Eldorado Room. The Manhattan Restaurant and Tap Room offered the Cleveland Black community a rather sophisticated restaurant for its day and age. The Slaughters continued to contribute to Cleveland’s restaurant scene by opening the Lancer Steakhouse in 1960 located on 7707 Carnegie Avenue until new management took over in 1978.
Green Book Details
Manhattan Restaurant and Tap Room appears as “Manhattan” in the Green Book from 1946 to 1967 at 9903 Cedar Ave. under the category Restaurants.
- “Display Ad 3 — No Title.” Call & Post. August 29, 1953.
- “Ex-Club Aide Believed Rags-to-Riches Tales; Went and Did Likewise.” The Plain Dealer. February 19, 1966.
- “Fleet, Slaughter.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. https://case.edu/ech/articles/s/slaughter-fleet.
- “Manhattan Cafe One of Finest Dining Rooms in North Ohio.” Call & Post. June 20, 1953.
- “Manhattan Opens Fine New Cocktail Lounge.” Call & Post. April 14, 1956.
- Photo Standalone 11 – No Title. Call & Post. September 12, 1953.