Yesterday, DBTH reported that the Plumm, Noel Ashman’s celebrity-powered nightspot, had been closed. Sometimes being a nightlife writer puts me in conflict with my other career of club/restaurant designer. Noel had me and my partner Mark Dizon lined up to give the downstairs a quick new look. I knew there were problems, as Noel just couldn’t pull the trigger on the redux. I could not report what I knew because Noel was a client. DBTH broke the story, and after reading Scott’s post, I felt I had one less reason to be cheerful. Plumm was shuttered, and I was out a design fee. I called Noel last night to hear his side of things: “Plumm had a four-and-a-half year run, which in the end ran into a real tough economy.” He went on to say that the club had been “plagued by lingering debt from NA,” the previous club in the space, which Noel also owned. I could never put a finger what NA stood for, and Noel still won’t tell. Most thought it was simply “Noel Ashman” or “Nell’s Again” (from another way-more-accepted joint that lived there). Some quipped it meant “Not Again,” and I’m sure my more snarky readers can go even farther.
Noel asserted that he and his celebrity partners — which include Chris Noth, Samantha Ronson, and Damon Dash — are “not out of options. We are weighing different scenarios and may indeed be back in.” I asked him if, for now, he is out, and he told me, “Yes, but the situation is complicated … The landlord is basically a scumbag, and that because of litigation” he couldn’t elaborate. Other options he and his celebrity friends are mulling over include “the opening of a completely new spot.” All the cards have indeed not been played. Noel is still on the liquor license, and anyone who wants to take over the space must consider going through him as a path of least resistance. Although the community board will surely have their say in this process, it is much easier to transfer than to obtain a new license.
My designer hat has already been approached by people in direct contact with the landlord, and it seems he wants a restaurant as a tenant. Again, here I am in conflict to speak to a very fluid situation, but the restaurant seems a good idea. Unfortunately, the asked-for rent is way too high for an eatery. A quick look around the hood sees the space next door, which has had so many bad clubs in it. The last name in the that space that caught my big ears was Dirty Disco, and that like all other entries failed or flew under my radar. Manor, a half-block away, also was way less than a smash. I remembered that there were other tenants involved in the Plumm; Noel rents the upper floors of the building to a kindergarten. I asked him if their lease was in jeopardy, and he said “Yes, I would think so … the landlord is a terrible person to deal with.” This story is far from over.