Take a Step Back in Time with a Visit to Cliff Bell’s in Detroit

Modified: September 06, 2022 | Story by Amelia Ritter

Imagine that you are a Detroiter enjoying a night on the town in 1935…

Prohibition has ended and countless bars and taverns are beginning to pop up in what is now Detroit. One of the most luxurious among them, decorated with shiny brass and rich mahogany, is Cliff Bell’s self-titled new club.

Cliff Bell's

Cliff Bell’s, Bill Bowen

As founder of several speakeasies during the prohibition era, Cliff Bell has made a lasting impression on the entertainment and bar scene in the city of Detroit. His most famous and successful endeavor is Park Avenue’s Cliff Bell’s. Bell poured his signature style into his new club, characteristics pulled from his other clubs, like bar stools, which he is said to have first introduced to taverns. There were also new technological elements, like air conditioning and refrigeration. The club was state-of-the-art and was Bell’s proudest accomplishment during the years he ran it, retiring in 1958.

Cliff Bell's drum set

Those who have grown up in Detroit or heard stories from relatives may recall that during the 30s, 40s, and 50s Cliff Bell’s was on one end of the town’s most lively nightlife scene, with the Town Pump at the other end of Park Avenue. The post-prohibition town was buzzing with jazz clubs, Burlesques, and pubs. You may also remember Cliff Bell’s by another name. In the 70s and 80s, the club was known as The Winery, La Cave, and JB’s on the Park. Though the club closed in 1985, it was opened up again under its original name in 2006. Today you can visit Detroit and enjoy Cliff Bell’s in all of its 1930s glory thanks to owner, Paul Howard. Enjoy live jazz music Wednesday-Sunday, craft cocktails, and a sophisticated menu from their executive chef.

Next time you are looking for a night out in Detroit, try Cliff Bell’s and be transported to an authentic 1930s club experience. They also have several options for you to customize your Cliff Bell’s experience. Whether you are looking to book a gig, scouting locations for your next private event, or trying to score reservations for a special night out, Cliff Bell’s is the place to be.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Cliff Bell's
    2030 Park Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    The Siren Hotel
    1509 Broadway St., Detroit, MI 48226
  3. 3
    Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney
    One Park Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  4. 4
    Atheneum Suite Hotel & Conference Center
    1000 Brush St., Detroit, MI 48226
  5. 5
    Shinola Hotel
    1400 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  6. 6
    Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Building
    33 John R St., Detroit, MI 48226
  7. 7
    Hotel Indigo Detroit Downtown
    1020 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226