The Hideout will close for the rest of the year after a former employee accused the music venue of fostering a toxic work environment, leading to a wave of canceled bookings.
The self-described “regular guy” bar and staple of the city’s music scene will close Nov. 7 with plans to reopen next year “with new leadership,” its owners said in a statement Monday.
“We’ve weathered many storms. The latest situation, however, appears to be one we cannot weather in our current form,” said owners Tim and Katie Tuten, and Mike and Jim Hinchsliff.
The owners have been under pressure since former program manager Mykele Deville — a “rapper/poet/actor/teaching artist” — published a social media post this month detailing his tenure at the venue at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. The post was first reported last week by Newcity.
In his post, Deville said the Hideout hired him in the summer of 2021. But his relationship with his bosses soured as he worked long hours and was often left feeling unsupported, he wrote.
Deville, who is Black, claimed his bosses were slow to respond after the building was vandalized with white supremacist symbols. His bosses also allegedly did not defend him after a white artist “cursed and berated” him in front of staff, he wrote. When he was spit on by a customer who he had asked to wear a mask, “Leadership did nothing to support me,” Deville wrote.
Deville said he was overworked in a position that other venues would have provided an assistant for. He said he was tasked with booking 30 shows a month and with setting up and cleaning the performance space.
Deville’s bosses fired him this spring for a “disparaging remark” and poor work performance, he wrote. He claims his bosses offered a severance package on the condition he sign a nondisclosure agreement, which he refused to sign.
“I realized that [the] Hideout never had any intention to set me up to succeed, but only wanted to trade on my racial identity… I now understand that once they realized hiring me meant actually evolving as a company, they just disposed of me and went right back to their old, comfortable systems,” wrote Deville, who did not reply to a request for comment.
Owners of the Hideout initially responded to Deville’s post with a statement on Oct. 20 saying, “We take these complaints very seriously because we never want anyone to feel this way.”
But as word spread of Deville’s grievances, a “large number” of bookings were canceled, the owners wrote in their statement Monday.
“We understand it will take time to build trust, to foster open communication, to develop a meaningful plan for change and then to implement it,” the owners wrote.
“We acknowledge the deep pain Mykele and others are feeling. We have met with our staff, and we are ready to put in the hard work, and hear the difficult truths that such change requires. We are committed to taking action as we work with a human resources organization with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The first step will be an equity audit of our policies and practices,” the owners wrote.
The owners said they hoped to “reopen in 2023, with new leadership, and a commitment to a healthy, supportive and respectful organizational culture.”
The Hideout, built in a former industrial corridor on the North Branch of the Chicago River, dates back a century ago when it was a clandestine neighborhood spot without a sign. The building is on the edge of the future Lincoln Yards development, which the bar’s owners have opposed for fear of competition of a future large music venue. The current co-owners have operated the Hideout for 26 years.