The Mondrian New York on Track for March Opening

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. This winter of discontent will end sooner rather than later and thankfully, for nightlife, things are as simple as hot and cold. The warm weather will bring South Americans and snow birds back to spend money here, instead of there, wherever that is. Although the calendar says that winter will slink into spring on March 21, nightlife has its own seasons. New York Fashion Week is already upon us, which marks the thaw of a severe freeze in revenues that began on January 1. The smart set, the jet set, the fashion set, and the playboys who follow the models are all in town to celebrate the shows and the thousands of unbelievably important events that celebrate them.

And if that isn’t enough, Valentine’s Day is also thrown in to up the ante. Valentine’s Day creates a boom for restaurants, but it can be problematic for clubs since patrons spend their cash on roses, candies, diamonds, pearls, and those lavish dinners before going to bed early that night. But Fashion Week will give clubs a boost and the eternal hope that spring ushers in already has joints gearing up, sprucing up, and cleaning up. Things should be heating up in nightlife as new places with grand ideas and new décor will be showing everybody how it should be done. I will note two of these openings today.

Yesterday afternoon, my pal Salvatore Imposimato gave me a tour of the brand new Mondrian Hotel, which looms large over the Chinatown/Soho/Nolita nexus of Crosby and Howard Streets — you know, right by Canal. The Mondrian also looms large over nightlife, as the same successful synergy of drinks, music, and events that Sal brought to the Hudson Hotel will soon become a reality here.This is the Morgans Hotel Group’s first New York construction since Ian Schrager went his own way, and it will be a force to reckon with. The Hudson, located where no man had gone before, brought hip downtown relevancy to an area better known for other things. I found myself there way too often, having way too much fun. The Mondrian’s location is a much easier commute for those that create the scene and I expect great things from it. Uber chef Sam Talbot will be in the kitchen at entrance level restaurant No. 9, offering an East Coast fish menu and — when it’s a little nicer outside — BBQ on the panoramic 26th floor Penthouse. With its’ 1500 sq-ft outdoor deck and a view of everything that counts (and Hoboken too), the penthouse will surely host spectacular soirees.

The restaurant space was nearing completion as I walked through and it looks accessible, yet chic. The hotel interior, by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, seems to take a page out of the Dorothy Draper school of design, most notably seen at Ella (which was designed by Draper purist Carleton Varney) and the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City, which was executed by Boom Boom Room designer Sean Hausman. The new hotel is Hollywood “Golden Era” chic, with a fun language of design. Of course, most of the furniture and fixtures are yet to be installed for the March 1 soft launch, and it may morph into something else by that time. I can’t wait to see the final product as it’s looking fabulous even at this stage. I was particularly interested in seeing the lounge, which I was told is being called Mr. H. after a fictional character “Mr. Hong,” who takes care of all the patron’s needs (wink, wink) in this Chinatown-meets-Humphrey-Bogart romantic dream. There are large painted rabbits scurrying in and out, and hidden ones to delight those who peek around. This is in celebration of the current Chinese Year of the Rabbit. There are neon Chinese characters masked by sheer curtains and a busy bar with jars of dried seahorses, ancient mystical cures, and all the common cures as well. Of note is another neon sign which scolds: “This Is Not A Brothel, There Are No Prostitutes At This Address.” This sentiment was underlined when proprietor Armin Amiri told me that he would not being employing promoters. He wants people to come in and have fun and the concept of a promoter table with a bevy of prostitutes, oh — I meant to say models, is unappealing. The girls in that setting are not accessible, merely window dressings, while Amiri wants people to interact and move to the music. With that in mind I caught up with the legendary Lord Toussaint in a t-shirt and jeans, connecting an impressive sound system. We chatted about the last time we met, about isolating the sound from room guests, and about speakers and stuff that would mostly bore you more than my usual. Needless to say, the sound will be amazing. He did Pacha’s system and is regarded as a top tier, international guy. Armin, ex Socialista, ex Bungalow 8, is poised for great things and was very excited about having his crowd occupy the new space. There will be a “Friends and Family” event this Friday and I hear Paul Sevigny may christen the turntables. A tour of the rooms was enlightening. A deep blue carpet, deeper blue mirror, and more ultra-sweet Draperesque moldings made me a believer. The Hotel complex is due to officially open on March 22.

]Also gearing up for a look is Bowery Beef, located in the front space of one of my haunts, the Bowery Poetry Club. Michael Herman and Ray Lemoine will be serving up North Shore-style regional roast beef sandwiches. From what I could make out as I listened and scribbled on cocktail napkins (which, by the way, should always be white for scribbling) this roast beef is very thinly sliced, rolled into a patty, and served with condiments (usually BBQ sauce). It’s all the rage. They will also be serving breakfast with H&H Bagels and lox and Blue Bottle coffee which, according to my napkins, is served after an ounce of these ultra connoisseur grinds are sifted through a porcelain cone directly into your cup.

This stuff is so amazing that no skim milk or flavorings are tolerated. It was hinted that I may not be sophisticated enough for its many charms, since I sip Dunkin’ Donuts in a waxed cup when I’m on site doing my day job. At night they will program different events and utilize the performance/bar space when it’s not being used, which is quite often. This Sunday they will be featuring my pal Catherine Fulmer’s fashion extravaganza with her show and after party. This is ultra hush hush, but they’ll have a sneak peek this Friday for their buddies. They too are getting off to a good start at Catherine’s extravaganza with Paul Sevigny providing tunes, but unfortunately they asked me to DJ after him. Maybe they feel that with all of this Fashion Week commotion, people might need a quick nap around that time.

Photo courtesy of JoonBug.com

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