Filed Under Entertainment

Leo's Casino

Cleveland's Motown Outpost

In 1963, business partners Leo Frank and Jules Berger opened Leo's Casino in the lounge of the old Quad Hall Hotel at 7500 Euclid Avenue. The club could host 700 people and regularly booked the top jazz and R&B acts of its era. The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane, Ray Charles and The Temptations all performed at Leo's Casino, as did comedians Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson. Otis Redding played his final concert there on December 9, 1967, dying in a plane crash in Wisconsin the following afternoon.

Co-owner Leo Frank opened his first club - Leo's - in 1952 at East 49th Street and Central Avenue. Leo's attracted the nation's leading jazz and R&B acts, but burned down in 1962, leading to the opening of Leo's Casino the following year. The new club, which quickly established itself as a key stop for touring Motown artists, was one of the most racially integrated nightlife spots in Cleveland. In July 1966 The Supremes played to a packed house of blacks and whites at Leo's not long after the Hough Uprising broke out mere blocks away from the club.

Eventually, bigger venues offering bigger paydays began to lure the most popular performers away from Leo's Casino. Continued population decline and disinvestment in Cleveland's east side after the Hough Uprising further hurt the club's fortunes. Leo's Casino closed in 1972 and was later torn down. In 1999, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it a historic landmark, placing a plaque on the site where Leo's Casino once stood.

Audio

Big Acts At Leo's Casino Larry Rivers remembers Leo's Casino as a place for top acts Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Four Tops At Leo's Casino Bennie Jean Johnson remembers seeing the Four Tops at Leo's Casino Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Living Near Leo's Casino Bennie Jean Johnson describes the location and the atmosphere of Leo's Casino Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Cleveland's Integrated Music Scene John Grabowski provides a historical overview of Leo's Casino Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection 

Images

Gladys Knight & The Pips An ad for Gladys Night & The Pips at Leo's Casino Source: Cleveland SGS
Looking East on Euclid Avenue with Quad Hall Hotel at Right Completed in 1925, Quad Hall was among many apartment buildings that rose along the former "Millionaires' Row" on Euclid Avenue in the Roaring Twenties. Source: Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection Date: 1927
Lounge at Quad Hall Hotel, ca. 1920 In 1963, Quad Hall, a hotel and men's club at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 75th Street, became the home of Leo's Casino. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Quad Hall Hotel Postcard The back of this postcard reads: "Quad Hall guest room, club residence for men, 7500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio." Leo Frank and Jules Berger purchased the Quad Hall Hotel in 1963 and opened Leo's Casino. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Bebout & Downs, Inc.
Leo's Casino, 1970 Leo's Casino shared the ground level of the old Quad Hall Hotel with Nite-N-Day Wash & Dry and Quad Drug. Source: Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection Date: 1970
John Coltrane ad An ad for a John Coltrane concert at the old Leo's Casino at E. 49th and Cedar. Note the mention of a coming Dizzy Gillespie concert as well. Source: Call & Post, July 28, 1962
Nina Simone 1968 ad for Nina Simone at Leo's Casino in The Cleveland Press Showtime Magazine Source: Cleveland Press Date: 1968
Ray Charles An ad for a Ray Charles concert at Leo's Casino Source: Call & Post, August 6, 1966
1967 Spring Jazz Festival Promo for the 1967 Spring Jazz Festival at Leo's Casino featuring Cannonball Adderley and, separately, four nights of shows by the Four Tops Source: Call & Post, February 25, 1967

Location

7500 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103 | Demolished

Metadata

“Leo's Casino,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/5.