Report: The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub is for sale

UPDATE: The Middle East has responded to the Cambridge Day article, releasing the following statement.

“To our valued community, the Sater family would like to inform you that they’re looking to develop the property; the Middle East restaurant and nightclub will remain running and open as usual. We will keep you updated as we go through this process. The Middle East business is here to stay and will be a part of any development at 472-480 Mass Ave. Thank you for your years of support and we look forward to a promising future together.”


It’s been an active day for The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Cambridge. Hours after longtime in-house talent buyer and manger Ned Wellbery announced on social media he was leaving the Central Square institution, a report by Cambridge Day reveals The Middle East complex has been put up for sale.

Middle East co-owner Nabil Sater told the paper that a listing was made with Boston-based real estate firm Hunneman last week, with an asking price of $40 million. The listing has not been posted online.

From Cambridge Day:

The Middle East nightclub complex in Central Square is listed for sale, co-owner Nabil Sater said Sunday, but he considered action on the listing to be far off or unlikely, and he said his ideal lease-back arrangement would allow the family-owned clubs to keep operating.

The Sater family bought the 23,388-square-foot property Dec. 2, 2014, for $7.1 million, seemingly ensuring the long-term life of its clubs – consisting of three stages at The Middle East and the ZuZu restaurant at 472-480 Massachusetts Ave.; and Sonia around the corner at 10 Brookline St. – but it’s been draining to pay off the high mortgage.

“It’s been tough,” Sater said, describing regular workweeks of well over 100 hours.

In recent years, the Middle East has been dealing with sexual misconduct allegations directed at co-owner and former manager Joseph Sater. In August 2018, Sater stepped away from managing its venues, and denied any wrongdoing. No charges had ever been filed, but many in the music scene have boycotted the Middle East’s various rooms, and a handful of bands have relocated shows that were originally booked there.

The Middle East first opened as a Lebanese restaurant in 1969, and has served as a hub of the local music scene since it began booking live music in the late ’80s, thanks to the tireless efforts of scene icon Billy Ruane.

The complex’s live music spaces include the 575-person Downstairs, 194-person Upstairs, the 350-person Sonia (the former spot of T.T. The Bear’s Place), the 100-person ZuZu, and the 60-person corner stage on Massachusetts Avenue and Brookline Street.

More to come as this story develops…

[h/t Boston Restaurant Talk]