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Scarnecchia sisters, Margaret, Gloria and Irene.
History of the Belvedere Club.
There are some in our community who
would proudly tell you that they met their husband or wife at the
Belvedere Club on the strip, (5373 Youngstown Road), a very popular
place many years ago. The Belvedere Club, designed like a road house,
was THE SPOT to meet people during the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s,
Carmen Scarnecchia began to work in the local mills at
an early age; later he distributed soft drinks and then he worked
as a butcher. But he always desired to work for himself. Finally,
Carmen’s dream became a reality. During May of 1929, he and
a partner, Marion D’Amico, opened the newly-built
“The Bel”, as his restaurant and night spot was soon
nicknamed, had about a 154 foot frontage on Youngstown Road with
a depth of about 257 feet, and was situated on nearly one-acre of
The white frame Belvedere had six
rooms; a bar, kitchen, lobby, main dining room, a dance floor, and
a small dining room in the rear. This is where industrial executives
from Packard Electric, Republic Steel and other local mills and
railroad executives held meetings while dining.
At that time the nine-hole Eastwood golf course, owned and operated
by Gig Calderone, was located behind the Belvedere Club.
The club house of the golf course was built by Mr. Orland,
Gig’s father-in-law, and that building still stands on the
west side of the Eastwood Mall, alongside Mosquito Creek, behind
the Service Station. In more recent years the building was the office
of Dr. James Skiffey Jr…a dentist.
Carmen took great pride in his dance floor and
kept it shined to the hilt. Whenever anyone came into the Bel
without a date, that person was expected to go to the bar; or,
if the weather was inclement, patrons were expected to go directly
to the bar until the snow had melted off their feet or their footwear
Marion D’Amico was head cook and
cooked fabulous steaks on an old coal range. In later years gas
was installed in the kitchen but Marion still used the coal range
when baking hams. Spaghetti and steaks were the specialty of the
popular spot. Carmen’s $2.95 steak was the best in the house.
Carmen’s daughter, Gloria, started
working in the Bel when she was fourteen years old. Remember,
there were no mechanical dishwashers in those days, so Gloria’s
first job ….the dishwasher.
At times she cleaned shrimp for the shrimp cocktail.
Over the years, she worked at every job in the business –bookkeeping,
payroll, purchasing, waitress, check girl, and hostess. In those
days, a waitress had to be 21 to serve liquor.
addition to Jim Fogarty, whom Gloria married in 1942, the
bartenders who worked there included; Jerry Guy, Gil Scarnecchia,
Dick Mahan, and Sam Mateo. James Wolfe
was a faithful employee from 1942 until the Bel closed. Mario was
head cook and cooked fabulous steaks on an old coal range. In later
years, gas was installed in the kitchen, but Mario still used the
coal range when baking ham. Spaghetti and steaks were the specialty
of the house. Carmen’s $2.95 steak was the best.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, everyone held their wedding
reception at THE BEL, including Gloria, who married Jim Fogarty
in 1942 while he was in the service. When he returned from the service,
he went to work for Carmen and in 1954, he and Gloria bought the
club. Then the best steaks were $3.95, and later $4,95.
Ed Bycraft and
Mac MacFarland were deputies who regularly stopped to
be sure the Fogartys were okay and everything was under control
at the Bel. Before the deputies left, they were served a bowl
of spaghetti in the back room. Many well-known people patronized
the Bel such as Louis Bromfield, Lauren Bacall, boxing
champions, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney.
The Belvedere became the favorite “hang out” for many
of the local good dancers and it had the biggest and the best
jukebox in the area. At one time Anthony Barberini was
the clubs organist on Saturday nights and for special occasions.
While Carmen was the proprietor, Gary Glen and the Jewel
Tones played for dances and years earlier Carmen’s
brother Tom Scarnecchia had a dance band. When Uncle
Tom’s band played gigs, they got paid with a bowl of spaghetti.
There were never any problems with the younger people who visited
the Bel and generally the restaurant would be wall to wall with
The fine restaurant and night club had catered to the public’s
dining and entertainment tastes for over 40 years. In 1970 the
ground on which the Belvedere Club stood was leased to the Standard
Oil Company. When the building was shoved down and buried on July
11, 1970 to make room for the Standard Oil station, even the old
coal range was turned under.
Progress calls for many changes, but many can
still remember the Belvedere Club, fine food and good friends.
The Fogarty’s later opened Fogarty’s Inn on Fenton
Street and still later on moved to State Route 46 in Mineral Ridge
where the “Fifth Season” Banquet Hall is now located.
The Belvedere always held ‘first place’ for Jim and
Niles Daily Times 6.26.70
On the Strip. A significant
bit of courtship nostalgia will be removed from the area scene when
the Belvedere Club closes its doors for the final time Saturday
night June 27, 1970.
Built in May 1929, the Belvedere was
owned and operated by the late Carmen Scarnecchia of Niles
and Marion D’Amico who lives at 648 Robbins Avenue.
Jim and Gloria Fogarty bought the business in
1954. Gloria is Carmen’s daughter.
Probably one of the first restaurant
and night spots on the Strip, the Belvedere has seen three generations
of young people dance and romance in its atmosphere. “It’s
quite common for young couples to talk about their grandparents
and parents who came here frequently in the thirties,” Jim
and Gloria explained.
In the big band era, the late thirties
and early forties, the Belvedere was known as the rendezvous for
the best dancers in the area. “You could always count on the
Belvedere having the biggest and best juke box with the latest hits,”
was the common consensus of ‘swing music lovers.”
A very popular place for parties and
banquets, Jim said. “We hosted some of the first and biggest
industrial banquets in the area. Steel and railroad executives were
Many famous persons have dined at
the Belvedere. Among those were Louie Bromfield (best man
at Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s wedding) Louie
Bromfield weblink, Lauren Bacall, Jack Dempsey and
“There has been a tremendous
cycle of music styles and types of dancing,” Jim and Gloria
recall, “Kids today are great but their music is hard on the
ears at times. We always like god lively music that the big bands
played but it wasn’t hard on your ears. Now, with these souped-up
amplifiers you can almost feel the walls swelling.”
“We have always felt we were
a significant part of Niles. When we were in our teens we recall
many people, particularly dancers like Joe and Sal
Rounds, Bob Slick, Lefty Naudad, Bill Boag, Martha Rose, Mary and
Martha Usted, Jim Schroth, John Morrison, Pipe Thompson, Martha
Von Thaer, Kathryn Warden, Frank Bassett, and oh so many others.”
The Belvedere will soon be no more,
Saturday it will all come to an end. The Belvedere will close its
doors for the last time. The grounds have been leased to Standard
Oil Company and a service station will be built on the site.
Gloria and Jim say they plan on a two month vacation and then expect
to open a restaurant in downtown Niles.