• Sun. Apr 11th, 2021

Real estate firm confirms purchase of storied Nighttown jazz club in Cleveland Heights

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A representative of a local real estate investment firm confirmed Monday that the company and another investor bought Nighttown in Cleveland Heights. However, the new owners declined to give many details about the future of the storied restaurant and jazz club.

Realife Real Estate Group, along with investor Rico Pietro, bought the Cedar Road club and two properties directly to the east, Realife Director of Acquisitions James Asimes said in an interview. That includes 16 apartments above Nighttown, a beauty salon, a construction company office, a parking lot and a former Fifth Third Bank where the fast-casual Mexican food chain Chipotle plans to open another location.

The new owners and previous owner Brendan Ring finalized the sale on Dec. 31. Cuyahoga County property records do not list the sale prices for any of the buildings, and Asimes declined to disclose them.

“I think it’s an awesome area,” said Asimes, who added that he lived near Nighttown when attending law school at Case Western Reserve University.

The club, which opened in 1965, had to cope with the coronavirus pandemic like other restaurants and entertainment venues. Ring, who previously owned the Cedar Fairmount business district institution, closed the restaurant indefinitely in November. However, he and his family members attended a concert that the club live-streamed on New Year’s Eve.

Asimes said the club would remain closed for the near future due to the pandemic. He declined to give details of the future of the club and any other plans for the properties, though said the owners’ tentative plan is to perform a few renovations and re-open on July 1.

“It’s got a reputation regionally and it’s been a mainstay for over a half a century,” Asimes said of the club, which locals knew for its comfortably old-school ambiance, complete with James Joyce etchings and newspaper pages on the wall.

Ring said last week that the new owners are in “late-stage negotiations with one of the big guns in Cleveland in the restaurant world, a big chef.” Asimes said he expects to have more to share within the next month.

Yaron Kandelker leads Realife, and its offices are in a building the firm owns on West 3rd Street in downtown Cleveland. The company owns office and apartment buildings in the Cleveland area – including the building that houses Zack Bruell’s Parallax restaurant in the city’s Tremont neighborhood – and several properties in Florida.

Pietro is a principal with the Cushman & Wakefield/Cresco Real Estate firm.

Ring said last week that he sold the property after he and his wife had some health setbacks in 2020. Asimes said his group made its offer to buy the properties within the past few months.

Even as the pandemic decimated the restaurant and concert industry in 2020, Cleveland Heights leaders see a bright future for Cedar Fairmount, and recent investment bears out that view.

Nearby, construction is underway for The Ascent at Top of the Hill, an $83 million development that will add 261 apartments and 11,000 feet of retail space on a four-acre piece of land where Cedar Road meets Euclid Heights Boulevard.

Cleveland Heights City Councilman Michael Ungar, who chairs the suburb’s planning and development committee, noted that he always saw Nighttown and other nearby established bars and shops as connected to the new development.

“I always thought that the ability to preserve and meld that vibe with whatever happened at the top of Cedar Hill was really important,” Ungar said, adding that the tax revenue will help benefit the city.

Asimes said he also sees potential in the area.

“It’s close to the second-largest employment center in the region (with University Circle) and there’s a good amount of wealth in the area around there,” he said.

“I think it’s improved a lot in the last five to 10 years, and I think it still has a runway ahead of it to continue to go up from there.”