Prosperity History

Prosperity Social Club celebrated its 10-year anniversary on October 22, 2015. Before it was born Prosperity Social Club, the business had been Dempsey’s Oasis from 1938­-2005. At a celebration event, we invited the original family, who had owned and operated Dempsey’s Oasis, to join us in the festivities. Also in attendance was Cleveland State University’s Center for Public History + Digital Humanities conducting on-site oral histories to be archived in the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection.

The entire Dembowski clan came to celebrate, share stories and reminisce about the rich history of the neighborhood, growing up in the business, how their Dad/Grandfather (Stan Dembowski) started the place, how their Mother/Grandmother cooked and cleaned, current events throughout the years and what the business was like back in the day.

A few things we learned that day was that prior to starting Dempsey’s Oasis, Stan Dembowski owned a deli two doors down where he bootlegged beer and gin during Prohibition. The business prior to Dempsey’s Oasis was called Hot Dog Bills and they served hot dogs out of the front window. Stan Dembowski purchased the property in 1938 and the business was named Dempsey’s Oasis Nite Club.

“Prohibition ended in 1933 and Dempsey’s Night Club opened for business in 1938. Leisy’s beer kept the tap flowing. The ‘Night Club’ name was appealing at the time because it was not socially acceptable for women to be seen in a ‘bar’. The words ‘Night Club’ gave the impression to dress up in Sunday go-­to-­church clothes, so he later changed the name to Dempsey’s Oasis Tavern to appeal to a wider audience. After all the south side, Tremont, was a working man’s neighborhood for those who toiled in the nearby steel mills. My dad built his business by cashing payroll checks and serving 16 oz. fishbowls of beer, with various liquors and wine at a very good price. Sometim afterward he placed salty pretzels and cheese corn on the bar and tables so the guys would stick around and have another boilermaker (shot and beer). Many a man would crack a raw egg in their fishbowl for 5 cents more, supposedly to put a little more ‘lead in their pencil.’ After the Second World War, dad added fish fries and homemade pierogis on Fridays only. He also provided live entertainment (polka bands, musical shows and comedians) on weekends where they played in the back room on a small stage.”

-Richard Dembowski, son of Stan Dembowski

Click here to read the Cleveland Historical entry on Prosperity Social Club and Dempsey’s Oasis.

Photos of the past featuring Stan Dembowski, Richard Dembowski, various employees, family and customers. (Click to enlarge.)

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