CAMBRIDGE, MA (WBZ-AM) -- The co-owner of the Middle East Restaurant and Night Club in Cambridge, Joseph Sater, is retiring after 44 years of managing the iconic venue. Sater steps down amid unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault that have spread on social media since October.
“We can say, unequivocally, that the allegations being spread online are absolutely not true and that just being publicly accused is absolutely devastating,” the venue said in a statement. “We have worked hard to create a warm, respectful, safe-- and, as a music venue-- fun work environment. We always strive to do better and we sincerely apologize if any current or former employees have not had a positive experience or have felt unsafe.”
According to Cambridge police, a formal complaint has never been filed and there is no open investigation into the matter.
Several bands, including the Hotelier, Pile, and Eddie Japan canceled scheduled performances at the venue citing safety concerns dating back to last fall. “We respect those who have recently chosen to move their performance to another venue and we would welcome them back at any time,” said Middle East ownership.
“For the many who have continued to play the Middle East, we are appreciative of their support. We have assured them that our nightclub is a safe environment where management and staff work to support them and create an amazing experience for their fans.”
Despite the growing number of cancellations, some artists have chosen to forge ahead and dedicate their performance to a cause. Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys will play their scheduled show Wednesday night (Aug. 29th) and donate all of the proceeds to BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center).
“We decided to move on with the show and use it as an opportunity to shine light on the issue and hopefully effect change,” bandmember Edrie Edrie told WBZ News Radio. “You can’t make what has already happened better, but hopefully you can make stuff moving forward better and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Update: The Middle East has posted their full statement on Facebook.
WBZ NewsRadio1030 Kim Tunnicliffe reports.