A drink with Pride: Kimpton Schofield celebrates Pride Month with signature cocktail

In 1943, at the corner of East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue in the Schofield Building, Gloria Lenihan opened the two-story Cadillac Lounge—Cleveland’s first openly-gay nightclub. For 27 years the Cadillac, with its signature neon sign welcoming patrons, operated in the spot, closing in 1970.

More than 34 years after the Cadillac Lounge served its last drink, the Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened in the renovated space, today operating Betts Restaurant in that very same space.

Perhaps the fact the Kimpton opened in the same location as Cleveland’s first gay bar is coincidental, but the Kimpton brand has long been a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and causes—having a partnership since 2014 with the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ people under age 25.

“At Schofield and Kimpton, we have a long history with the LGBTQ community,” says Jordan Nye, Kimpton Schofield’s director of sales and marketing. “It’s something we celebrate.”

With June being Pride Month, The Kimpton Schofield is celebrating with a signature Pride Cocktail—Absolut vodka and mango hibiscus soda. The 12-oz cocktails sell for $10 each and come in glass bottles, so customers can enjoy them in Betts lounge, take them to-go, or bring a few up to their rooms. Additionally, $2 of every cocktail sold will go to the Trevor Project.

“The cocktail is very light and refreshing with a tropical essence, perfect for a summer day either on the rocks or right out of the bottle,” says Nye, who adds that the cocktails pay homage to the original oil-on-canvas murals, painted by Cleveland artist William C. Grauer, that graced the walls of the Cadillac Lounge.

The murals are now in storage at the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS).

John Grabowski, Krieger Mueller chief historian with the WRHS, says the murals came to them in 1970 after the Cadillac Lounge closed and several staff members who new the bar removed the wallpaper containing the murals and added it to the WRHS collection. 

A WRHS catalog entry describing the collection reads:  

Cadillac Lounge ca 1960's"22 rolls of canvas forming eight murals in the Art Deco or Art Moderne style. Three of the murals represent marine scenes with fish, seashells, etc. They must have been painted in the early 40s. The others were painted in 1945 when the Cadillac Lounge in the Schofield Building was redecorated (corner E. 9th S. & Euclid Ave.) all were painted by William C. Grauer with the assistance of Mrs. Grauer. The later set has a tropical theme.

"One large mural with a nude astride a horse is titled "Gidiva," the other, which is the finest and came from a soffit near the ceiling above the bar, is titled, "Tropicana," and shows figures and animals amidst tropical vegetation. The three other murals are of similar subject matter."

Nye says he believes the WRHS is trying to restore the murals. But for now, the Pride Cocktail reflects the tropical theme of the murals.

The Kimpton Schofield is also offering a room rate Pride Package throughout the month of June, with which includes a room, two Pride Cocktails, and a daily $30 breakfast or brunch credit.

Nye says the hotel also offers a Trevor Project special rate year-round, where guests can receive a 10% discount on their rooms and Kimpton will donate 10% of the rate to the Trevor Project.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.