Jay Hotel Owner Misunderstood Saint or Sinner?

Special Commentary to the Homeless Grapevine

by Alexander Hamilton

            Who is the man behind Jay Hotel, formerly located on Jay Avenue, off of West 25th? To most Chuck Minadeo is a man of mystery. Many assume he is nice and because of his troubles of late has been beaten up upon by the government, his neighbors and others. Minadeo is a man who is a complex mix of conservatism and liberalism, two polar opposites warring within the same entity leads for disastrous results when not properly balanced. Others view him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

            However, to truly know a person you have to study their actions, not just the public ones but also the ones behind the image that is presented to the public. Keep in mind before you judge Mr. Minadeo that we all have made mistakes that we regret and wish we could take back. But that does not make us any less than a person. Minadeo is still a man with a heart that cares even if it is a way that normally would not be accepted as appropriate.

            Minadeo is a man who actually has immeasurable skill and intellect, which caused him to believe wholeheartedly in his own American Dream. He is a small man in stature who wears wire-rimmed glasses and is always neat and clean, and never flashy in dress. This is my view of his story. Minadeo has been the owner of the Jay Hotel for the last 27 years, raising, nurturing and toiling to make a better life for himself and his family. It can be said that he probably believed in leaving a legacy to his family, but not just his family: to the poor and unfortunate as well. In wanting to leave that legacy Minadeo entrusted the management to others and many problems that occurred never reached his ears.

            How could a man with so much passion for his business allow horrible things to happen to a business that had been nurtured and raised for the last 27 years?

It is like a child, when that child is born you love that child and as that child grows up if someone were to come and tell you that your child robbed someone, you would not believe it. You know how your child was raised and nurtured and you would instantly reject the notion of your child being a thief. It is no different for Minadeo, this business, the Jay Hotel, was and still is his passion and losing his “child” is a horrible reality he must face. He was not the willing participant that everyone claimed he was, however when it was brought to his attention that these things were going on he had his own prejudices. His “Child” could do no wrong.

            The Jay Hotel died on October 31, 2003. Minadeo’s dream died along with the dreams and hopes of others who depended on Minadeo to keep it open. The Jay did not close by his choice however; it closed because of the activities that were not taken care of and allowed to get out of hand. The Jay Hotel was reminiscent of the days of old, when a person new to the city could come and if they did not have a lot of money stay in an hotel environment to get back on there feet or whatever the individual case might be.

            The Jay, with its fairly large lobby and picture windows, kept alive the character and nostalgia of those old hotels that housed celebrity and commoner alike. Its character refused to die, when one sees this awesome building one can’t help but feel like you are back in time of yesteryears. To a large extent Minadeo contributed to that nostalgia, by providing a place where someone could go stay and enjoy the taste of hotel life, that they otherwise would not get to enjoy because of income. The Jay was without a question the last of its kind, inarguably a historic landmark its atmosphere was hurt by the numerous drug raids conducted by the sheriffs department and evidence of prostitution and other unfavorable incidences.

            What led to the demise? Many blame Minadeo himself while others blame the community. However, shouldn’t we all take the blame equally instead of pointing the finger? It takes a village to build a community and it is through neighborly love that neighborhoods all across the country have been reformed and are now prospering. There are places where the less advantaged eat side by side with the prosperous and new hope is given rise to the fact the less fortunate ones can also one day return the favor and not only partake in prosperity but also reach down and help another.

            Minadeo has been beaten upon, while he went to numerous meetings or sent a representative no clear solution ever came to fruition. It can be said with a resounding cry for justice for the poor that neither side gave enough effort to say, how can we as a community resolve this pressing issue. Our children are being harmed and our families embarrassed by the behavior that is exhibited by some former residents of the Jay. How can we eliminate this problem and help Minadeo attract people truly in need?

            It would seem that this kind of constructive questioning might have led to a win/win situation. Minadeo should have come to the table and said I acknowledge your concern and am just as perplexed as you are how to solve it, let us work together to rebuild the reputation of this community by coming up with a solution together. Instead he overlooked the outrages of his neighbors and they in turn overlooked the poor who were staying at the Jay Hotel and labeled everyone a druggie or a prostitute, they even went as far as to clap when the sheriffs department carted off suspected drug traffickers, druggies, prostitutes, not caring whether anyone was hurt, traumatized inside or crying because of grief because all they wanted was to get to a prosperous life.

            Minadeo is remorseful and they always say that hindsight is always 20/20. Now he spends time to make sure that the remaining poor or mental patients get into housing, he is after all human and a man with a big heart. He has taught many the ins and outs of managing not just a building but also the people. However there is one rule that he broke that he taught his managers that ultimately led to the demise of the Jay Hotel, and that was never avoid the problem, even if you have to do it yourself, satisfy the customer and they will reward you. That is the intellect of a true businessman that cares and is shrewd. What a different outcome this situation would have if he had followed his own advice and rules.

            Now we come to where do we go from here, Minadeo with all his business acumen will go on to hopefully learn from this experience and still champion for the poor and underrepresented, the community will hopefully look at the zealousness of their own rage and recognize their own faults in celebration of the Jay closing and make amends with killing not only Minadeo’s dream but that of others who had nothing to do with the drugs and prostitution that were associated with the Jay Hotel. Let’s hope that the poor and mental patients who lived there keep their hope and still strive for prosperity. You see in closing, Minadeo should be thanked for at least trying as well as constructively criticized for overlooking problems. You can’t just slap a band-aid on a problem and expect it to heal. Wounds run deep and sometimes they never stop bleeding and Minadeo like all of us needs to be able to heal and know that he is forgiven and has friends in unexpected places.

            Editor’s Note: This is exclusively the opinion of the author and not that of the Homeless Grapevine or its publisher. Hamilton is a former employee of the Jay Hotel, who has started his own hotel on the East Side of Cleveland. He also has advertised in the Homeless Grapevine in the past, and submitted this unsolicited commentary.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64