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Closure takes shine off appeal's success

A public appeal that raised thousands of dollars in just two days has failed to stop a popular nightclub from closing its doors.

Musician Wendell 'Shine' Hayward was presented with a cheque for more than $13,000 raised in a radio appeal last week after it was revealed that his club, House of Music, owed $61,312 in rent.

Despite that effort by listeners of the Sherri Simmons talk show on Magic 102.7FM Mr Hayward has now confirmed that his club has shut down, because insufficient funds were raised by last Friday's deadline.

“We didn't reach our target and so therefore, according to the court order, the lease will be terminated,” Mr Hayward told The Royal Gazette last night. “That means I will no longer be conducting any business or operating the club from that premises.”

Landlord Benjamin Rego Jr launched legal proceedings after Mr Hayward ran up almost a year in rental arrears on the Reid Street club.

It is understood that Mr Hayward incurred other debts, with one former employee claiming that she frequently went without wages during the ten months she worked as a barmaid at the club, relying instead on tips from customers.

“It was a casual arrangement and I didn't have a contract,” the employee said. “I knew of the financial difficulties Shine was facing and eventually I was just working for tips.”

Mr Hayward acknowledged that he owed a number of people money as a result of his failed business venture — but vowed to pay off his creditors.

“She is not the only person who I recognise that I am indebted to and I will be working to clear all my debts,” he said.

And he applauded radio listeners who had tried to keep his business afloat, describing the public support as “very humbling”.

“I'm very, very appreciative,” he said.

“It wasn't about me or the club. It was much bigger than that — an example of Bermudians coming together.”

Asked why he felt his business had failed, Mr Hayward blamed the economic downturn and costly overheads.

“I think the current economic climate had an effect and furthermore, I don't have any big sponsors behind me — I'm just a sole individual.

“Also, we weren't running just a bar, we were running an entertainment complex which meant there were more people working there. I didn't just have bar tenders, there were things like the entertainers and security. On top of that, I didn't own the property. It was an excellent location, not too far from Front Street, with plenty of parking.

“I think many Bermudians wanted it to survive and eventually come out of it on top. But despite the economic climate, at the end of the day I think I have to hold myself responsible for things not working out.”

Although the fate of the House of Music bar has now been sealed, supporters are still working to raise funds to help Mr Hayward pay off his debts.

And a host of top entertainers, including Gina Davis, Tony Robinson and Sybil Barrington, will be giving their services free of charge at a benefit concert next month.

Tickets for the concert, which will be held at the Somerset Cricket Field on November 11, cost $20. For more information call 236-9318 or 717-2034.

Closing: Shine's House of Music and Entertainment. (Photo by Mark Tatem) ¬

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Published October 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm)

Closure takes shine off appeal's success

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