Michael Zweig had information on the spot about the chaos taking place at Stella’s Music Club and Brickstone Tavern, businesses he owns that are across from Progressive Field on the corner of Bolivar and East 9th streets in downtown Cleveland.
For part of the evening on May 30, several employees and musicians “camped out” to protect the businesses, he said. As people tried to break in, the staff and musicians confronted them, effectively averting violence.
At 10:30, Zweig asked them to go home.
“Injury to any one of them, you know, was not worth it to me,” he said. “By 11, there were 15 people that smashed through the windows and robbed us blind.”
In viewing his security cameras off-site, Zweig witnessed people break in using street signs to break through windows, destroy live-streaming equipment, clean out a freshly stocked bar with 300 bottles of liquor – and, in some cases, sit down at tables to drink from the bottles.
He saw someone leave with his 1974 Fender bass guitar, his first, and the one that he asked musicians to sign and photographed them doing so.
“It was brutal,” he said of the destruction to his businesses. “I got to watch it all live on video.”
Zweig said he called the police, who drove by and shone a light into the building.
“People scattered out the back door, which I also saw,” he said. “A couple cars around the building, they would have caught everybody.”
Zweig’s “day job” is in New York City, where he works as managing director for the Rockefeller Family Global Office, but he lives in Solon with his wife and family, who belong to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood.
He took over Brickstone, a sports bar, and opened Stella’s in 2016 as a way to honor Cleveland’s place in the music industry – and as a way to offer working musicians a venue.
“We have insurance,” he said. “It doesn’t take away the scars. It will put us in a position to reopen.”
On June 1, though, still reeling from the devastation, Zweig was uncertain whether he would reopen. Although the two dozen volunteers who helped him clean up, including one patron from Youngstown who spent six hours boarding up windows, gave him some solace.
“You may know that there’s a shortage of windows in Cleveland right now,” he said. “To survive the pandemic, you’d think we were supposed to be here. … It’s just hard to get enthusiastic. I’m not saying by any stretch that this is where it ends because it’s not my nature to give in or give up.”