In 1987 Cleveland hosted a New Year’s Eve Run. An untimed 3.1-mile fun run (with costumes) that started at midnight on East 12th Street, headed up Euclid toward Public Square, and winded around various streets until everyone finished on East 12th. Back then I was a member of the CSU cross country and track teams, running like 80 miles a week and living off the carbs I consumed every day by eating spaghetti and pizza at Rascal House. I loved running road races and a friend of mine thought this would be a good way to usher in the new year.
And it was. I spiked my hair and dressed up like a punk runner. I wore a green racing singlet and a pair of American flag shorts with red tights underneath. Not being the smartest runner in the bunch, I also sported a pair of punk rock sunglasses that made it very hard to see more than 3” in front of me. Remember the race took place at midnight and it was really, really dark. I guess if it wasn’t for the spiked hair and the impossible-to-see-where-I-was-going sunglasses, I could’ve just participated as a fashionably impaired college student. There were a lot of us walking around in those days. My friend borrowed a million cotton balls from his parents’ medicine cabinet so he could dress up like a white bunny rabbit. The Plain Dealer took a picture of the runners at the starting line. Once we took off, I made sure to carry my sunglasses so I wouldn’t run into a building.
But while the race was going on some of our other friends were ringing in 1987 at Rascal House. If you read my posts, you’re probably aware that I’m gaga for Rascal House. In college I spent 99.9% of my time studying history, running long distance races and hanging out at Rascal House. And not always in that order. Rascal House in the 1980s was not only the best place to grab a bite on campus, it also had a bar in back with a huge dance floor. I liked the way they used to call your name on the PA system when your food was ready, loud enough so you could hear it in the bar. And it had at least one popcorn machine you could help yourself to while you waited. I persevered and finished the fun run those first few minutes of 1987, but my heart also pined for Rascal House that morning. Just like today, it was a special place to hang out.
Rascal House turns 40 in 2020. That’s middle age in people years. With middle age there is also the wisdom it acquired from so many years of doing things right. The menu. The people. The city. That’s what makes Rascal House a Cleveland icon. It was, and will always be, great food best when shared with friends.