Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Blind Lemon marks 40 years

Whoa, can this be true? The Blind Lemon is 40 years old?

It sure is, says manager Walter Brown, who has been there since 1971, the same year current owner Eddie Sheppard started there.

The Lemon, first of the really hot Mount Adams hangouts, opened May 21, 1963, because Towne Properties owner Neil Bortz was strapped for cash and thought a bar might be a cash cow. It was.

So there's a party, right? Yep, all month, Brown says. He's been on the phone night and day calling past and current regulars as well as past servers and musicians, lining them up as guest bartenders and nightly entertainment.

Kickoff is May 1, but the biggest name gets there May 2. That would be Jerry Springer, who used to sing there after a few beers. He'll be there 6-9 p.m. to introduce his new CD and, if all goes the way Brown has it planned, sing with a three-piece band.

Among the musical alums showing up to play, always 6-9 p.m.: local theater stalwart Clare Schlemmer, May 6; Jeff Gaither, May 14 and 22; Tommy Steele, May 16; and Rob Reider, maybe with daughter Katie; May 23.

"I have a few holes to fill in, but almost every night in May is accounted for," Brown says.

The complete schedule, as well as the bar's colorful history, is at www.blindlemoncafe.com.

Way big party: Something that started as a joke a week ago is closerthanthis to becoming reality.

That would be a buffet line spanning two states. Turns out restaurateur Jeff Ruby was making plans for his birthday party Sunday at Newport's Tropicana and somebody at the meeting said that with 2,500 people - he does throw big ones - the buffet line would stretch all the way to Cincinnati.

"So I had this idea: My party's April 27th and the purple pedestrian bridge opens the 26th. Why not put the food stations on the bridge and go from one state to another? I have restaurants in both cities, so it's appropriate.

"I got on the phone with Phil Ciafardini (Newport city manager) and Wally Pagan (executive director, Southbank Partners, manager of the bridge project) and both were enthusiastic.

"I don't have it on the dotted line yet, but I think it will happen."

The party's theme is A Taste of Tropicana, so the evening's menu will be all the food served at the restaurant. But to feed 2,500, food has to be prepared at all five Ruby kitchens (Precinct, Waterfront, Carlo & Johnny and Jeff Ruby steakhouse) and be trucked in.

Bar choreography: And this from our file marked Sure Sign That Winter's On The Way Out: This year's crop of Parties in the Park begins Wednesday.With a few twists. Like your cold beer served with a pirouette. Or something like that.

Right, says Downtown Council public relations rep Buz Buse, who says DTC staffer Cynthia Oxley has lined up an unusual group of bartenders: The UC Dance Team. That would be 19 women who perform at UC athletic events. They'll be at the Hyundai/WB 64 Party in the Park every other Wednesday.

This is the same dance team, recall, that Sport magazine ranked first in 1999 in a piece called "Five Cheerleading Squad/Dance Teams to See." And the one with six top 10 finishes in the College Dance Team National Championships.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com

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