There’s a lot you don’t know about Moe’s Tavern, even if you’ve passed the East 17th Street staple a million times.
The building, which was once a rooming house, has history. It’s been around since 1890 and became Moe’s Tavern, which opened in 1956 down the street, in 1979. In the late 1970s, Danny Greene used the building as a speakeasy, complete with gambling in the basement and a brothel upstairs. Later, it became a hangout for punk rockers and then a gay bar and then a cocktail lounge. A few years later, as the rumor goes, a writer (or group of writers) from The Simpsons lived upstairs and used the bar as inspiration for the show’s version of Moe’s Tavern. While no one knows how much of that story is fact, owner Michael Lorenz doesn’t mind the extra attention the connection brings to the spot.
“Not everyone realizes that it’s the bar from The Simpsons, even some locals have no clue,” Lorenz says. “We’ll have people who come from all over just to see it.”
Since taking over in 2021, Lorenz has redesigned the tavern to play into Cleveland’s roots. Brick walls are now exposed and lined with old-school pictures of Cleveland. But the next chapter in the bar’s legacy is found on Moe’s barstools, which are typically filled with bright-eyed students from Cleveland State University nabbing a local beer between classes, visitors to nearby Playhouse Square and retirees reflecting on the good old days.
That next chapter will also include a menu featuring a sourdough pizza and hometown pours. “I carry a ton of local beers,” Lorenz says. “I’m just working to keep the bar as local as possible.” 1740 E. 17th St, 440-525-1041, Cleveland, moes-cle.com