Magnolia in Flats to Close Next Month and Reopen This Spring as `70s-style Disco

click to enlarge Magnolia in Flats to Close Next Month and Reopen This Spring as `70s-style Disco
Cleveland Memory Project
In the late-1970s, Cleveland-area clubs like Nite Moves, Rare Cherry, Dixie Electric Co., Happy Apple and Silver Lady attracted huge crowds thanks to a disco-driven format complete with glitter balls, lighted dance floors, theatrical design and killer sound systems.

If Bobby Rutter and Michael Schwartz have their way, Cleveland will once again be home to a Studio 54-like club where disco and dance are the main attractions. To get there, they will shutter the speakeasy-style venue Magnolia around the second week of February to completely refashion the 4,000-square-foot space into an as-yet-unnamed nightclub.

“We’re going in a very `70s-esque direction,” Rutter explains. “We’re high on the whole disco and `70s era because it’s the hottest thing going right now. The three biggest dance songs are all disco-based right now.”

Going full-on disco, adds Rutter, will include the lights, sounds, sights and dance moves of those late, great venues here and away. The goal is to stay true to the era in all aspects, from the music to the scene. There will be a light-up dance floor, sharp furniture and great sound system.

“You’ve got to do it right,” he says.

In the trend-driven world of nightclubs, Rutter states, the rule of thumb is change or die. Magnolia is approaching its fourth birthday, which is ancient in club years. Not only will this transformation bring the club in line with current fashion, it will better differentiate it from management’s other property, FWD.

“FWD is an anomaly; it’s going into its sixth or seventh year, but for the most part, nightclubs get two maybe three good years,” he says. “The choice is either to keep the same brand and pour some money into it to make it a little bit different, or take the concept in a different direction.”

The aim is to create a fun, approachable venue that attracts a broader, more diverse clientele. Unlike Magnolia, which doesn’t open its doors until 9 p.m. or later, this club will welcome guests much earlier. The other main objective is for the club to draw an audience that has less overlap with nearby FWD.

“[Magnolia] is definitely upscale and significantly more expensive – and that was its niche,” Rutter says. “And it was a great niche to have, except during the time that FWD is open, when everybody is outside.”

Rutter says that construction should stretch into April, assuming all goes as planned. When the club does open, it will offer creative cocktails but little food.

“We have a better sense of the area and market than we did four years ago, and we think it will be very successful,” he adds.

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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