This is the number one question we get here, “Why is the bar named JB’s Tavern?” Well, the story begins in 2002 when Mandy took a job in downtown Cleveland. During her lunch break, Mandy used to frequent a little bar with a fantastic lunch buffet just around the corner from her office named Alesci’s. The owner, Gina Alesci, bar manager, Jeff Burson, along with the cook, Ms. Chris (as Jeff always called her), became quick friends with Mandy. This is not surprising to anyone that knows Mandy!
At that time we were newly married, new to the city of Cleveland, and adopted Alesci’s as our home bar. The timing and location were perfect. Alesci’s (later purchased by Jeff and his brother and renamed Huron Point Tavern) was within a block of Jacob’s Field, The Gund Arena, and an easy walk to Cleveland Brown’s Stadium. And, with no kids of our own until 2007, those first five years were jam-packed with fun, late nights, and lots of great memories.
Most importantly, these years formed the foundation for the brotherhood between Jeff and me. Our friendship had grown to a point we would talk or hang out at least once a day. Jeff became a defacto Uncle to Bo and Cole (our kids) spending holidays and nights in our backyard. Jeff was apart of our family’s everyday life.
Jeff was not only influential in the life of our family but hundreds of others in the restaurant and bar business in Cleveland who called him a friend. Jeff, often called the Mayor of the Gateway District, was so well known that one time when Jeff and I went to a Tribe game, I counted Jeff being stopped 80+ times by all of his friends attending the game. You can imagine we didn’t move too fast through the stadium being stopped that much! It was a truly memorable night!
During many conversations, we discussed purchasing a bar together. Unfortunately, that never happened. On March 13, 2018, Jeff unexpectedly passed away at the age of 52. Obviously, the loss had deep effects on his family, our family, and the Gateway community as a whole. It is a loss that none of us have fully recovered. So, after making our dream come true this August, it was not a surprise I named our first bar, JB’s Tavern after my brother, Jeff.
Since owning the bar I have been called JB numerous times and the reference always brings a smile to my face. For everyone who knew Jeff, they also get a laugh that we named it after him because he would have hated it so much! Jeff was an incredibly humble person who would do anything for you. The sheer thought of his name and likeness being used for a bar would have driven him crazy. But for us, we needed to honor him and we needed to show our appreciation for everything he was to us! If Jeff were here right now, he would have been calling me an asshole for that decision and that makes me smile too!
We miss you my friend and we think of you daily. It is our purpose to make you proud.
~ Chris Barney
Chris & Mandy Barney, Owners of JB’s Tavern