Filed Under Food

Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House

Authentic Slovenian Food and Entertainment

Frank Sterle, an immigrant from Ljubljana, Slovenia, founded his Slovenian Country House in 1954. With a small building on East 55th Street, a few picnic tables, and only one waitress - who had to memorize the small menu since none had been printed - Sterle managed to create a successful and lasting business. As the restaurant became well-known throughout Cleveland for its world-class polka performances, Sterle decided to add onto the building until it looked much like the alpine mountain lodge that Sterle lived in when he was a young child. The building had a pitched tongue and groove ceiling. A deer head hung over the entrance, and its walls were adorned with murals of Slovenia, giving the restaurant an atmosphere that was distinct in Cleveland.

After Frank's death in 1986, the restaurant was taken over by Mike Longo and Margot Glinski; immigrants from Italy and Germany, respectively. Despite the change in ownership, the restaurant continued to serve traditional Slovenian dishes and had weekly polka performances and dancing. Favorite menu items included wiener schnitzel, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, klobase and sauerkraut. Among the notable artists who performed at Sterle's were Joey Miskulin, Johnnie Vadnal, “Waltz King” Lou Trebar, and "King of Polka" Frankie Yankovic.

In 2012, Rick Semersky bought the building and promised that he would use Sterle’s Country House “as a catalyst to revive the neighborhood.” Semersky kept using the building as a restaurant until he could no longer keep up with changing times and was failing to fill the large restaurant nightly. In 2016, Semersky opened Goldhorn Brewery next to Sterle’s Country House. The following year, he stopped serving lunch and dinner and converted the restaurant into a special events center. Although Goldhorn Brewery stayed open and was profitable, Sterle’s Country House did not last long as an event center. Sterle’s closed for good and was up for auction in March 2020. Despite Frank Sterle’s Slovenian Country House changing hands over the years, each owner had the intention of providing authentic Slovenian food and entertainment, which its patrons will remember for years to come.

Audio

Cleveland's Melting Pot Margot Glinsky of Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House talks about Cleveland as a cultural melting pot Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Polka At Frank Sterle's Margot Glinsky talks about ethnic music at Frank Sterle's Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Cleveland-Style Polka Joe Valencic of the Cleveland Polka Hall of Fame talks about Cleveland style polka and it's Slovenian origins Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Exterior, 2008 Source: Mark Souther Date: 2008
Entrance This arched sign hangs over the entrance to the Sterle's parking lot.
Frank Sterle and Alojzija Sterle Frank Sterle with his mother, Alojzija Sterle, who was visiting Cleveland from her native Slovenia in 1978. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1978
Slovenian Performers, 1927 Slovenian Performers Donna Oblak and Louis Frehek in 1927. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1927
Stained Glass A stained glass window featuring a woman in traditional Slovenian garb is built into one of the walls at Sterle's Slovenian Country House.
Inside the Sterle’s Slovenian Country House The inside of Sterle’s Country House had murals depicting Eastern European scenes. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University’s Michael Swartz Library Special Collections Creator: Tom Tomsic Date: May 8, 1979
Lou Trebar and Slovenian Dancers, 1951 Accordionist and Cleveland native Lou Trebar was one of the best-known performers of Cleveland-style polka. His polka adaptations of classical music during the 1930s earned him the title of "Waltz King." Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1951
Corpus Christi Procession, 1928 Founded in 1901, St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church on East 82nd Street met the religious, social, and educational needs of the Slovenian community in the area. In this 1928 photograph, Father John Oman, head priest for 48 years at St. Lawrence, leads the congregation in the annual Corpus Christi procession. The celebration had both religious and cultural significance for the Slovenian Catholic community. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1928

Location

1401 East 55th Street, Cleveland, OH 44103

Metadata

“Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/18.