Brunch is a forgivable offense.
For a truly dusty, rustic, old-school dive bar, the presence of a robust brunch service isn’t exactly a stellar sign, and while that’s understandable, a place like Prosperity Social Club walks that line thanks to the deep roots of its history and the unassuming nature of its space. At one glance, it’s the type of bar your grandpa probably shut down post-Prohibition. At another, it’s a bottomless mimosa table inside the front door. Prosperity is all things at once.
Adjacent to Cleveland’s Lincoln Park, Prosperity inhabits a two-story standalone building in a mostly residential neighborhood peppered with a handful of bars (like the amazing Hotz Café not far away). The disconnected real estate makes Prosperity Social Club a destination, which during the day can mean, yes, brunch, but at night means drinking in what feels like a classic Midwestern tavern.
The starkly stone façade that first opened its doors as a bar in 1938 gives way to a two-room layout marked by a wide black and white tile pattern. Low tables line one wall and the bar runs the full length of the front room along the opposite wall. And the bar is a classic, Midwestern variety with deep brown wood, illuminated alcohol platform, an array of vintage photos and bar signs.
Quickly apparent, though, is that the bar signs and sporadic neon throughout the bar isn’t the typical High Life / Budweiser / Miller Lite variety. This is a P.O.C. bar, and you’re forgiven for not being immediately familiar with Pilsener Brewing’s 1917 creation Pilsner of Cleveland. After surviving Prohibition, the brand floated through a string of purchases and acquisitions before ultimately settling with C. Schmidt & Sons, which promptly went out of business in 1984. Storied history or not, it’s easy to understand why a beer label standing for Pilsner of Cleveland found a home at a classic Cleveland tavern like Prosperity, and the signs add to the lore of the space.
The back room features what the bar calls a “kitschy game room,” complete with a trademark of Cleveland dive bars, a vintage, working-order bowling machine. Though temperate weather can sometimes be a rare commodity in Cleveland, a generous back patio unfolds out of Prosperity’s back door. Brightly colored chairs and picnic tables under an open-air pergola make for pretty ritzy digs as far as dive bar patios go.
Though certainly with a layer of polish, the Prosperity Social Club experience feels like walking a block to a friend’s house for a late afternoon beer. The welcoming interior, the Cleveland pride, the vintage gaming, the classic tavern layout, it adds up to a welcoming, comfortable feeling. Excusing that Prosperity is fancy enough to feature mussels on the menu, the bar is dive at heart, consistent in holding on to its city, its neighborhood, its values.