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Bar owner, musicians happy to lounge around

Cleveland DeWolf spoke to the Romeo breakfast group Nov. 19. His story was so interesting that I got out my notepad to share it with you.

He’s the owner of a new lounge in the basement of the Boulder Dam Hotel, where bars have long existed, but not in recent years. They opened three months ago. It’s called Cleveland’s, The Lounge. He says friends suggested the name and he resisted, thinking it was egotistical. But they persuaded him his name was the appropriate choice. I have to agree. A cocktail lounge named Dave’s wouldn’t sound all that classy, but Cleveland’s definitely seems to.

It’s open seven days a week from 4 p.m. and has live music on the weekend; DeWolf aspires to having more live music nights in time. He also intends to introduce charcuterie (that’s a classy-lounge term for meat and cheese snacks). He stresses that music not be so loud as to drown out conversations between his guests. They don’t have a TV in the place.

On Friday he has a music combo named “Cash and Al” come in at 7 p.m. I can attest that they are very talented guys; I hear them most Sunday mornings out at Chilly Jilly’z Patio restaurant. They also play at Maxx’s at the Oasis Motel on Wednesdays from 8-11 p.m.

Cash Farrar (sax and flute) started out in the Navy’s 7th Fleet Band, played on Navy and cruise ships around the world and ended up in Las Vegas playing with the likes of Wayne Newton. Al Ventura has a similarly long and impressive working resume with his guitar play around Las Vegas. The two met three months ago when Cash was looking for a partner for his three-year-long gig with Chilly Jilly’z. They would consider booking another engagement here in Boulder City.

On Saturdays, by 7 p.m., a talented, soulful karaoke singer, Jeannette Moreno, takes the mike in Cleveland’s. Amy and I went down to see how it goes.

They perform in an intimate setting with 16 tables and a sparkling new bar area. We saw familiar faces among the couple of dozen at the tables. The rough stone original walls have been painted gloss black or curtained to create a rich looking Rat Pack atmosphere. The menu is very reasonably priced and includes a great, customizable fruit drink for teetotalers like me.

The very personable Moreno joined us at our table for the entirety of her first break. She lives off Wagon Wheel Drive, the northern “suburb” of Boulder City. She is heavily engaged in studying for a nursing degree, so she doesn’t do any other gigs right now. Her music background includes lots of theater dancing around Vegas show places. She said her favorite thing about working here is that the people of Boulder City are so friendly and open.

Her companion, Carl Xander, operator of Glow Entertainment, was billed to me as her fiancé and equipment operator, and a singer in his own right who filled in when she was on break.

She kindly arranged to have him sing my very favorite country song, although that is not their usual genre. He flawlessly rendered “Austin” in a smooth voice that, in my opinion, is a little bit better than Blake Shelton’s was in his 2001 release.

DeWolf started out life in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and grew up on a ranch that literally lies on the Canadian border. He later lived seven years in Hawaii and 10 years in Mesquite, always in the building trades, constructing high-end custom homes and dealing in architectural stone products. At no time during those decades did it ever occur to him that he had a calling to own a cocktail bar. He was rather proud to confess that the first time he ever mixed a drink was just last month.

But he very clearly takes pride in the fact that he has a great bartending crew. Cleveland’s man behind the tap is his son, Isaac DeWolf, who also happens to be manager of the entire Boulder Dam Hotel. Isaac had worked for the hotel as the techy builder of displays for several years. About six months ago he was promoted to hotel manager.

When you visit, tell ’em Dave sent ya.

Dave Nelson retired to Boulder City in 2003 after a career with the FICO score company. He is vice president for the local Sons of Norway.

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