Iconic Chicago Nightclub to close after 40 years of business
After four decades of vibrant nightlife, Chicago’s beloved LGBTQ+ nightclub Berlin has regrettably closed its doors. The final dance at the Belmont Avenue establishment, just east of Sheffield Avenue in Lakeview, concluded at 5 a.m. on Sunday, November 19.
The owners, citing rising costs associated with security, insurance and licensing, equipment, and rent, made the difficult decision to shutter the iconic venue.
Union UNITE HERE Local 1 expressed disappointment in a social media post, stating that they were only informed of Berlin’s closure a day after it happened. The union emphasized the heartbreak experienced by the nightclub’s employees and called the decision misguided.
In a press release, the union asserted that Berlin’s owners had rejected their proposals for seven months of bargaining sessions, even failing to attend some meetings in person.
However, in an open letter published earlier this year on the nightclub’s website, owners Jim Schuman and Jo Webster countered that Berlin is not and never has been a true full-time employer. They further clarified that Berlin’s part-time employees earn a base hourly wage supplemented by tips.
Berlin was founded in 1983 by Tim Sullivan and Shirley Mooney, who envisioned it as an alternative to the limited options available at the time. The open letter also acknowledged Schuman’s battle with stage 4 cancer, with Webster, his husband and business partner, serving as his primary caregiver.