Stephan Nieweler is one of three children who inherited Hermann’s Jazz Club and the adjoining Hermann’s Upstairs from their father, Hermann Nieweler, when he passed away in 2015. The club has held a lot of memories, but now needs to go on the market. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Hermann’s co-owner says it’s ‘bittersweet’ to sell his father’s business

Victoria’s downtown music staple, Hermann’s Jazz Club now for sale

Stephan Nieweler jingled his keys, unlocked the front door and went upstairs at 751 View St., the upstairs portion of Hermann’s Jazz Club.

Inside, the walls were red with arched entryways that led to cavernous rooms and halls, still ringing with the music played in the space over three decades. Now, the music staple is for sale.

In 1986 Nieweler’s father, Hermann Nieweler, bought the property after working five years in the hotel industry down the road. One night, while running the Bastion Inn on Government Street, Hermann had a jazz crew inquire if they could get a good deal for rooms. Hermann agreed to provide them rooms if he could get a cut of the show’s sales. The show was such a success that Hermann, who had emigrated from Germany as a carpenter with no training in jazz, turned his attention to music.

READ MORE: Downtown Victoria jazz icon up for sale

He bought the property at 751-753 View St., and transformed the downstairs into Hermann’s Jazz Club, and the upstairs into a live music venue that has also been a night club for several decades. The upstairs portion carried most of the weight for sales.

“The jazz club was never really run for pure profit,” Stephan said. “It became more of a passion.”

In 2015 Hermann passed away, leaving the businesses to his three children, Stephan, Edward Nieweler and Ingrid Reid. The three had grown up between the jazz club and their home in Vancouver.

“I didn’t love jazz growing up,” Stephan said. “I listened to different music than my dad.”

After taking over, however, Stephan came to realize how important the venue is for the Victoria community.

“I’ve grown to appreciate it beyond the music,” he said. “People come here and it’s like their living room.”

Stephan has worked around the world, and makes an effort to always check out local jazz clubs where he visits.

“You have no idea how many times I’ve sat down and talked with musicians only to hear them say ‘oh Hermann’s, that’s where it all started for me.’,” Stephan said. “I’ll be in Manhattan and they’re talking about this little space in Victoria.”

Big names like Diana Krall and Nelly Furtado were just some of the Canadian icons who first performed on the downstairs stage in their earlier days.

ALSO READ: Astrocolor making special debut at Hermann’s Upstairs

Despite the nostalgia and the wide-spread love of the club, the Nieweler children have hit road bumps in deciding what to do with the business. There were disagreements about whether to sell the place, as well as a struggle for the three individuals, who haven’t run a jazz club and have their own careers, to keep the business afloat.

In 2018, Stephan said he was certain the business would shut down until the Jazz on View Society, now the Arts on View Society, stepped forward and offered to manage the space. In 2019, the Society secured $100,000 to help renovate and run the business, and signed a five-year lease with the owners to manage the space. The Victoria Jazz Society has also helped run events upstairs.

“That’s what’s special about Victoria, and that’s what my dad always said: people care.”

READ MORE: Victoria arts society takes over management at Hermann’s Jazz Club

With business in more secure hands, the Niewelers decided it was time to sell.

“Some kind of resolution is a relief. You can’t have an estate process go on, it’s energy consuming and difficult,but obviously there are memories of my dad are here,” Stephan said “Seeing the wonderful legacy that he left behind… that can be hard, but at the end of the day you have to make rational decision on what needs to be done.”

The building is listed at $4.5 million, and the Niewelers hope that the right person comes along with the intent to keep the entertainment going, though it’s uncertain if that will be the case. For now, however, the five-year lease assures that music at Hermann’s will keep ringing for the near future.

Even though he will no longer have a hands-on link to the club, Stephan hopes to continue coming in and sitting at the back just to enjoy the shows, this time without worrying about the business. He hopes that in the future he’ll still be able to participate in some events, and encourage young musicians to continue with their practice.

“That was something my dad always wanted for young musicians,” he said. “For them to ‘do good things and stay out of trouble.’”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

Both sides in Saanich School District strike question calls for mediation

Sidney council has called on the province to appoint a mediator

West Shore RCMP arrest woman, seize drugs, cash and replica firearms in Langford

Bike unit seizes 178 grams of methamphetamine and about 48 grams of mixed opioids

Save-On-Food customers can help save lives with small, at till donations

New campaign aims to raise $25,000 to purchase patient monitor for VGH’s pediatric intensive care unit

Flurry of Yuletide activities coming to Sidney

Sidney Business Improvement Area Society and members organize festive events

Sidney considers turning over public charging stations to private company

Councillor questions wisdom of charging for charging

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

No new rules needed to ensure timely youth justice, Supreme Court says

Charter of Rights and Freedoms says someone charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

Most Read