It was with a heavy heart that we reported last month on the unfortunate demise of Steve's Lunch, after a grease fire started in the kitchen, consuming the building, and forcing its demolition.
This week, a Yelper and dedicated Steve's Lunch patron "Blue O," also known as Clevelander John Elliott, penned a touching and often hilarious eulogy to commemorate the life and death of Ohio City eatery.
Here's a portion of it for your enjoyment.
Legendary isn't the word for a place like Steve's Lunch. The interior color was a kind of yellow that can only be experienced and would be impossible to replicate. The items you could order were written on a dry erase board so faded that it was hard to read. It wasn't like the writing was smudged or anything like that, but the cold, stale breath of Father Time had weathered the writing on it. Father Time is indeed undefeated, and he sure was hard on Steve's Lunch. The specials were written on bizarre neon paper with sharpie markers and randomly taped to different parts of the wall. Last time I was in there, I asked why they had a wooden door instead of the old screen door type thing they had, and they said they had been robbed and added the wooden house door as a security measure (WTF?). The OG Steve who founded the place had long since passed away, but there was a xeroxed, blown up copy of his obituary taped to the coffee maker. Oh, and jukeboxes at the counter! They were out of commission, but if you ever find the INSTRUMENTAL version of "Hey Ya" by Outkast in another jukebox anywhere in the midwest USA, l'd be shocked. There was even a circular, spilled-drink stain ON THE CEILING.
This is the inverted, infinite, IMPOSSIBLE ultra-void that Steve's Lunch existed in. An utter vacuum where logic, time, and everything in the dimension we know is inapplicable.
The food was as strange as the interior. The hot dogs were great, but anybody who has ever eaten there knows that this food damages your body in unspeakable ways. It was a part of the charm, a "take one for the team" mentality. I can't count how many times Steve III (or maybe he was Steve VI) burned my fries. He once passed out STANDING UP at the griddle and was too injured to work. They also had mystery items that nobody bought like the "Western Sandwich". My pal from Montreal came down once and ordered it and even the cook didn't know what it was.
Interior and food aside, Steve's Lunch had a vibe that operated on its own terms. You could go on a Saturday night because you'd think it'd be wild in there, and it'd be completely empty. Or you could go on a Wednesday during a blizzard and the place would be packed with turnt up heads for no reason at all! I've seen a woman at the counter eating a hotdog turned upside down with all the chili and shit falling all over the place and when someone next to her asked if she was ok, he got a full plate of fries to the face. A buddy of mine drunkenly blew a big fat gator tail of coke off the counter while my other pal was passed out on the counter. Dooley once threatened to taze a mexican, a hispanic, a black dude, a white dude all while efficiently helping get orders out in a timely fashion. What are we going to do without this place?
I remember spending time at Steve's when I didn't know what to do with myself or where to go. If I had anxiety in the middle of the night, sometimes I'd just go to Steve's. In the joy of company, or in the sadness of my solitude, Steve's was a place I knew would never change and always be there. It couldn't change, it was impossible. I even spent a shitty Christmas Eve there a few years back with a pal. Everything is different now.
Everybody at the scene of the fire today said "it just exploded". As a Clevelander, and as a guy who understands the metaphysical nuances of life as it pertains to Steve's Lunch, this realization couldn't be more profound. IT EXPLODED.