Sterle's Country House the place to be, especially on Thursday nights when there are food deal and entertainment aimed at attracting a next generation of fans. But somehow, he's managed to do all that without destroying the essential charm and authenticity that makes it special,bring it into the present without destroying what's best from the past.
Semersky's a building construction contractor not a restauranteur. His company, VIP, is next door to Sterle's so he's a longtime lunchtime regular. But his neighborhood roots go deeper: his grandmother grew up in the neighborhood. He cares about what happens there. So when Semersky heard that the previous owner wanted to sell and that a prospective buyer wanted the property, not the place, he took action. "They wanted to tear down the building," he told me. "I couldn't let that happen. This is a piece of our ethnic history, it's pure Cleveland, a polka and pierogi palace we should be proud of. So suddenly I'm in the schnitzel business."
Since he got the keys in mid-March, the place has been cleaned from top to bottom. He installed better lighting, put a window behind the bar and added lots of interesting beers to the list, ditched the white cloths in favor of new wood tables and added some salvaged church pews for seating. An outdoor beer garden will be ready when spring arrives.
I was in for lunch recently. Had a tasty bowl of chicken paprikash. Next visit I want a schnitzel sandwich on a pretzel bun.And veal goulash. Plus the stroganoff. (Clearly, multiple forays are required). Or do a dinner (Thursday, Friday and Saturday only) that includes the chicken soup (recipe same as always, and sausage with 'kraut.
DJ Kishka, will bring his bearded brand of foot tapping fun to the big dining room, spinning classic polka albums. Or venture in on a Saturday night when it's typically packed with Sterle's stalwarts who have made it a habit to come eat and dance to the live music. "There's people of all ages. including kids. It's like the family wedding you don't really want to attend," said Rick, describing the scene. "But after a couple of drinks, you start having a good time, decide to stay awhile, and then don't want the evening to end."