Fresh Start: New CV, Opium Group Redux @ Nina

A weekend of springlike weather brought optimism and a few mosquitoes to my downtown abode. It was a weekend of new construction — a fresh start for so many things. The trickle of growth in clubdom has become a torrent, with my design firm getting an inquiry a day about our services. Gossip down below in subMercer was that Serge Becker’s new subterranean versian of Chinatown Brasserie will make dim sum available for Thanksgiving. Lovely Day has recovered from its fire and is slowly returning to the neighborhood mainstay it was before. Also in the hood, Jon Lennon celebrated the second anniversary of his GoldBar on Ssunday. By the end of the day today, I should be signing a couple of more contracts — maybe even three more, as the recession is officially over in nightlife.

However, New York City is not enjoying an unemployment rate around 10%, with no relief in sight. New bar, restaurant, and club construction provides much-needed jobs for building trades. The spaces will provide thousands of service jobs. Cab drivers, delis, and local business will get a boost as well. The state seems to have recognized this opportunity to get people off the welfare rolls and onto the taxpayer rolls. The “new” SLA has been tasked to streamline the licensing process. Community boards have eased up on their mindless rejection of all things nightlife, and thumbs-up have become commonplace.

The closed 105 Rivington space — a splinter off of the Rivington Hotel — is getting a redux. It will be called CV, as in the roman numeral for 105, the address. My company has been tasked to make the place a warm, comfy space to hang with a “Meatpacking” aesthetic. Partners Jed Stiller, Alex Masnyk, Jordan Harris, Matt Isaacs, and Matt Levine will have no problem filling the small lounge, which has a capacity smaller than its address. Gerald Bunsen and Zev Norotsky join as in-house events staff. They have brought some of the management and staff from Spring Street boite Upstairs, including door dude Wayne. Jed Stiller told me, “This brings the trend towards hotel-driven lounges to the LES. The Rivington is a celebrity-driven hotel, and we expect to service the high-end guests of the hotel as well as our friends.” The place will be open seven nights from 10pm, and small food will be served. Partner Matt Levine has had success over at the Eldridge and working with the Rivington as of late. If my wallpaper guy gets motivated, the place will debut in the next few days.

Word comes that the Opium Group will take another bite from the Big Apple. Their last bite was a bit wormy, with Mansion falling way short of expectations. They seem to be thinking small and will take a version of Miami success story Louis bar-lounge to Soho. This Avenue-style spot might (according to my source) be called Nina. The hospitality dynamic in Miami has always been a bit different from NYC; vacationing Europeans and northerners seeking heat spend cash differently in Miami than they do in New York. It will be interesting to see if the Opium Group has learned from its failure at Mansion and will adjust to the New York state of mind, or if they will try to shove nightlife as they know it down our throats once again. Will they recognize that they must assume some of the blame for Mansion’s demise, or will egos continue to point fingers at everyone else? It is true that they emerged as the recession melted black cards, and this time the economy seems to be going the other way. They and dozens of new joints are speculating that a bottom has been reached and that they will catch this new wave of cash and not crash back into the beach.

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