Jo-Ann’s Nite Club

in Bars, Clubs, and Discos

Jo-Ann’s Nite Club (Joanne’s), a gay bar, was located at 1630 Payne Avenue. Jo-Ann’s was named after owner Helen J. (Joanne) Jaffrin. Jo-Ann’s featured a bar, dancefloor, and live entertainment. Jo-Ann’s frequently hosted female impersonator shows in its private back room. Jo-Anns was a frequent target of raids by members of the Cleveland police and liquor board. In 1955, Jaffrin’s attempt to apply for a dance hall permit faced opposition from members of the Cleveland police. Though Jaffrin was eventually able to obtain a Dance Hall permit for the bar, she again faced opposition from the Cleveland police and liquor board when attempting to renew the Jo-Ann’s expired liquor license a year later. Police and liquor board agents attempted to deny Jaffrin’s appeal to renew the bar’s licenses due to Jaffrin’s criminal record and prior citations for serving “minors and intoxicated persons” at Jo-Ann’s. In the meantime, Jaffrin continued to operate Jo-Ann’s without necessary permits. Jaffrin, however, alleged that police and liquor agents had engaged in “unfair harassment of the nightclub.” Jo-Ann’s suffered minor damage after several unidentified youths intentionally threw a flaming “can of gasoline” against the bar’s “wooden front,” resulting in over $300 worth of fire-related damage. Though Jo-Ann’s was able to reopen following repairs, it continued to weather citations for, among other things, “hindering inspection, for being open after hours, and for blocking the view into the establishment.” In a separate incident, four disgruntled former patrons set off a military-grade smoke bomb in the bar’s basement. After “smoke began pouring from the basement,” some “20 or 30 customers” were sent scrambling for fresh air. “Twenty-seven firemen and several customers” were later treated for severe smoke inhalation at a nearby hospital. Jo-Ann’s bar closed in 1975. The bar subsequently reopened as Rikki’s under new ownership.

Plain Dealer. May 11, 1957.

Additional information coming soon.


  • “Agents Cite Bar for Sale to a Minor.” Plain Dealer. June 11, 1962.
  • “Buck Harris Interview, 20 April 2006.” Cleveland Voices.
  • “End Objections to Dance Hall Permit.” Plain Dealer. March 16, 1955.
  • “Four Men Hunted in Smoke Bombing.” Plain Dealer. January 9, 1966.
  • “Gasoline Hurled at Bar Sets Fire.” Plain Dealer. August 2, 1958.
  • “Jo-Ann’s Nite Club.” In Guild Guide 1964. Washington: Guild Press Ltd., 1964. Page 65.
  • “Jo-Ann’s Nite Club.” In International Guild Guide 1965. Washington: Guild Book Service, 1965. Page 77.
  • “Joanne’s Club to Face Two Liquor Board Hearings.” Plain Dealer. May 6, 1957.
  • Nosek, John, and Leon Stevens. “Gay Community 1970s.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  • Scott, Jane. “Gay Life Is Nurtured In Many A Bar.” Plain Dealer. July 10, 1977.
  • Seeger, Murray. “Red Tape Keeping Bars in Business.” Plain Dealer. May 11, 1957.
  • “Shaia’s Hut is Cited for Sunday Sale.” Plain Dealer. February 24, 1964.
  • “Smoke Bomb Overcomes 39 in Bar Here.” Plain Dealer. January 8, 1966.
1630 Payne Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114

Tell us about Jo-Ann’s Nite Club

Many of the locations documented on Queer Cleveland are not well-documented in the historical record. If you have additional information about Jo-Ann’s Nite Club, please let us know by sharing a memory, correction, or suggestion using the comment form below.

Or send an email to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *