Clements Lock & Security on Cherokee Street becomes a bar every Thursday
The rustic key and lock shop makes for a quirky watering hole for those who want a unique night on the town. And the story of how it came to be is just as idiosyncratic — part necessity, part creativity and part history.
It all started when Jason Deem bought the locksmith shop five years ago after the former owner, Joe Clements, passed away. “I wanted to keep the locksmith business operating in the neighborhood,” Deem said. “There was one other locksmith in the neighborhood, Bates Lock & Key, that had just closed, so if Clements was going to close, there would be no other locksmith in the area.”
Joe and Paula Clements originally opened Clements Lock & Key at 3011 Arsenal St. in 1973. The shop initially employed eight full-time locksmiths but, over time, was reduced to Joe, Paula and a long-time employee, Scott Brouk. In 2018, after Deem purchased the business, it moved to its current location in the old Globe Drugs building and changed its name to Clements Lock & Security. Brouk now runs the shop. “It's a great asset for the neighborhood,” Deem says. “But it was kind of struggling to break even, and I wanted to keep this thing going.” That’s when Deem had the idea to get a liquor license for Clements. “[The space] has a great feel to it, and it really feels nice and cozy at night,” Deem says. “I was like, you know, it'd be great to open this up as a bar. So I figured, why not get a liquor license and try it. I figured some government agency would say, ‘You can't do that,’ but I figured we’d just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see how far it goes.”
Though he considers it more of an experiment than a speakeasy, Deem says he liked the idea that it doesn’t read like a bar but like a lock shop. At night on Thursdays, Clements’ wall of keys acts as a mesmerizing piece of artwork surrounded by plywood, old key machines and other reclaimed items from the store’s past, as well as Globe’s old pharmacy counter and bookshelves.
As of now, the bar sells a selection of beer (4 Hands’ Parker Pilsner, Incarnation IPA and Chocolate Milk Stout; Earthbound Brewing’s All Purpose Pilz; Peroni; Coors Banquet; Budweiser; Bush and Busch N/A), wine (Parts & Labor red blend and CMS sauvignon blanc) and whiskey (Switchgrass Spirits’ Gold Dust). The offerings are also available to daytime customers.
“It’s very simple,” Deem adds. “We’re not doing fancy cocktails or anything like that.”
Clements Bar is open Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, and Clements Lock & Security is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Monday through Friday.
This article was originally published by the Riverfront Times.