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Cedars Lounge celebrates 32 anniversary

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Published: Fri, December 21, 2007 @ 10:43 a.m.

After 32 years, Cedars Lounge is finally celebrating its first birthday.

Mara Simon, business manager and daughter of the owner, Tom Simon, said Cedars opened its door in January 1975. The Simonses, of Lebanese descent, named the establishment Cedar’s Lounge after Cedars of Lebanon, the symbol on the Lebanese flag.

Aside from expanding the bar, adding the cafe and opening the outdoor patio, Cedars hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s still known for its unique, artsy atmosphere and progressive music scene.

Simon said the music scene has definitely evolved over the years. With different generations, she said, you get different sounds. Before 1981, Cedars was primarily a jazz bar.

Then one day, Donnie Yallech of the B Minors walked into Cedars and asked Tom to give his band a chance. The first time the B Minors played at Cedars, it was a Wednesday and people came from out of nowhere and the place was packed.

“If it wasn’t for these people, this place may not exist,”Simon said. “I get very discouraged and upset when I hear people say nothing’s going on [in Youngstown.]”

Simon said her father was first inspired to create the unique atmosphere of Cedars after visiting different bars in New York. He knew he had the power to make something big happen for Youngstown, she said.

“It started opening people’s eyes,” Simon said. “My dad gave them an outlet that you couldn’t get anywhere else.”

In the 32 years Cedars has been making Youngstown a great place to hang out, it has played host to plenty of parties, but it’s never celebrated its own bar.

“We’ve never celebrated Cedars and the people who made it happen,” Simon said. “It’s a celebration of Cedars and what my father has provided to the community for all these years.”

This weekend’s performances — both Saturday and Sunday — will all be by local bands that played back in the day. Pete Drivere, owner of Ampreon Recorder and sound technician and booking agent for Cedars, was a member of the Infidels, which will be playing a set Saturday.

Simon said a lot of the older bands that will be playing at Cedars this weekend are worth coming to see.

“Some bands haven’t played out in over 20 years,” Simon said. “It’s going to be odd, but a good odd.”

Hors d’oeuvres will be served in the cafe in the early part of the evening on both nights. Also, there will be a 20-minute video looping throughout the evenings that is a short history of Cedars.

“After seeing what my father’s done, I want to keep things alive for years to come,” Simon said.

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