Scatter’s Barbecue was a popular restaurant owned and operated by Herman “Scatter” Stephens, a larger-than-life figure in Cleveland’s vibrant barbecue scene at the time. Located at 931 East 105th Street in Glenville, Scatter’s Barbecue offered what some considered to be some of the best barbecue in the Midwest. The owner and namesake of Scatter’s, Herman “Scatter” Stephens, befriended some of the most influential African Americans at the time, including boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and jazz pianist Count Basie. Fans and patrons of Scatter’s enjoyed the ribs and shoulders pit cooked over hickory wood, leaving a savory, smoky taste.
The life of Scatter Stephens came to a tragic end on September 10, 1967. Stephens was shot and killed outside of Scatter’s Barbecue and Stephen’s Cigarette Service, both of which he owned. There is speculation as to who was responsible for the murder of Scatter Stephens. The suspect was white, and there are rumors that Scatter Stephens had upset the Italian mob in Cleveland. In the 1972 blaxploitation film Super Fly, the characters “Scatter” and “Priest” were based on Scatter Stephens because the film’s writer was from Glenville. Although the movie was given an original budget of less than $100,000, Super Fly grossed $30 million at the box office. Scatter Stephens was not only a larger than life figure within Cleveland, his charisma left a cinematic legacy.
- Burstein, Scott. “Who Needs Ron’O Neal?: “Scatter” Stephens Was A Cleveland Street Legend & The Real Superfly” The Gangster Report. February 9, 2021. https://gangsterreport.com/who-needs-rono-neal-scatter-stephens-was-a-cleveland-street-legend-the-real-superfly/.
- “Clevelanders Who Dine Out Find Food And Service Better.” Call & Post. June 27, 1953.
- Gabb, Julie A. “Scatter’s Barbecue.” Cleveland Historical. https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/654.
- “Herman (Scatter) Stephens Shot To Death: Hunt Mystery Slayer of Sportsman.” Call & Post. September 16, 1967.
- Martin, Leo. Interview by Julie Gabb. March 13, 2014. Cleveland Voices. clevelandvoices.org/items/show/2862.
- Nelson, Clara. Interview by Julie Gabb. February 27, 2014. Cleveland Voices, clevelandvoices.org/items/show/2857.