A family feud at Hermann’s Jazz Club is leaving the iconic music hub’s future unknown.
The club was taken over from Hermann Nieweler by his three children, Stephan and Edward Nieweler and Ingrid Reid, after he passed away in 2015.
While management of the venue has switched back and forth between the siblings, Reid and the club’s creative director, Susan Joy, released a blanket statement to the club’s email list to say they had resigned their management positions effective Tuesday at midnight due to a “hostile takeover” from Reid’s brothers.
“Within the past month it has become hostile with the other two owners, who demanded our resignations,” Joy said. “Stephan and Edward were constantly berating Ingrid with emails to resign.”
Joy added that the brothers didn’t share the same vision for the club as herself and Reid.
The Nieweler brothers responded with a statement of their own, claiming that over a year ago the business was “forcibly taken over by the minority owner, Ingrid Reid … her husband Fraser and her associate Susan Sabanski (who refers to herself as Susan Joy) without permission of the majority ownership.”
The brothers claim that throughout this period, no financial records were provided to them, market rent wasn’t paid and no consultation was done around any of the business decisions.
Reid and Joy gave notice July 20 of their intention to step down, which presented an “enormous challenge of taking over on four days notice,” the brothers stated.
The joint statement went on to say they will be spending the next couple weeks trying to determine the the exact state of the business, but that “in good faith… we will be honouring events booked at the club this weekend, and we endeavour to accommodate future bookings as we stabilize the operation.”
Joy said she and Reid share a passion for jazz and in the last year sales and attendance had increased along with the quality of shows. Joy noted that in their “shining hour” after the resignation, a single prospective donor came forward ready to invest in the business. A second investor has since emerged who is interested in helping the women buy out the brothers.
“What we want to do is procure the entire building,” Joy said. “We want it to be Hermann’s Live on Vie; we want the jazz club, the playhouse, now known as the View Street Social.”
When asked if she believes the brothers would sell to them, Joy sounded hopeful.
“I believe so, they just want to sell it anyways.”
While a price hasn’t been determined, the family had considered selling the building for $3 million to the Jazz on View Society in 2017. The non-profit group undertook a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money, but fell well short of the total needed.
For the most recent updates, you can head to hermannsjazz.com.