New Basement Live Music Venue Opens in Euclid’s Paradise Island Saloon

click to enlarge Chris McHugh. - SHAWN MISHAK
Shawn Mishak
Chris McHugh.
The new venue Dead End in Paradise located in the basement of Paradise Island, a long-time Euclid neighborhood bar on 830 Babbitt Rd., opens with its first official show on Sunday. The concert will feature a motley crew of acts, including Cleveland’s Merry Go Rounders and New Orleans-based Ditrani Brothers and Holylocust.

Originally from Willoughby, 31-year-old manager Chris McHugh moved back to Cleveland in 2020 just in time for the pandemic. McHugh, who played guitar for the past 10 years, was planning on starting his own business welding but began working at Paradise Island in Euclid. Family friend Steve Sverga has run the place for the past 12 odd years. Sverga also used to own the Tap House on E. 200th. Within six months, Sverga promoted McHugh to manager. It was shortly after this that McHugh decided to turn the basement into a live music venue.

“I’m trying to bring something back to the east side. The Beachland’s out here, but other than that, everything’s on the west side, says McHugh. “I feel like the east side doesn’t have enough going on, so I want to bring some west side folks out this way.”

On the ground floor, the Paradise Island Saloon Bar has a typical neighborhood bar vibe with your standard American fare of burgers, wings, fries and subs. It has a full bar and many giant life-sized statues are randomly strewn throughout the joint. These statues were purchased from none other than Cleveland’s infamous Norton Furniture Store.

Upon entering the upstairs bar, one will see a cowboy looking as if he is going to have a showdown with his outlaw advisory. There’s also a nutcracker and a clown among others hidden around every corner.

As one enters the basement through a little stairwell abreast the main bar, the first thing one sees is a fat headed guy with big shovel which McHugh calls “The Grave Digger.” Then, there’s what looks like an undercover FBI agent statue holding a sign pointing down a hall which reads “Dead End.” Then, down the hall, one sees a coconut hanging precariously from a string which allows the door to swing open to reveal the quaint little venue.

Behind the bar, there is another statue of a motorcycle cop looking like something out of the Chips television show. The stage is modest and slightly raised. Elvis with a palm tree behind him and Merlin the Wizard flank it on either side. LEDs of all colors flash around the room like search lights. There's a pool table plopped right in the middle of the room like an out of place vessel on a deserted island. McHugh says he's trying to convince the owner to do away with it to leave more room for concert-goers. There is some modest seating, and the little tiki-like bar has its own sort of kitschy ambiance which might please someone looking to dip into a private little oasis for a live experience.

The venue comes complete with little green room, an equipment storage room and a house drum set. McHugh says he put a lot of time and money into the place and especially into the sound system, which promises to be state of the art. He says the goal is to be an “intimate venue” and that there is so much concrete between the two spaces that one shouldn’t affect the other.

McHugh says he's booked around 10 shows so far for the next several weekends. He'll be hosting hip-hop producers, but he wants to put the word out that Dead End in Paradise is there for all types of booking and all types of music and that this is a safe space for everyone.

“We want to keep it a creative space everyone and for every genre, and we want to see new faces and old friends and to keep things interesting,” says McHugh. “Music is such a big part of my life, and I want to cater to the creative community. Eventually, I might do comedy shows and even potentially drink and draw stuff.”
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