New York Opening: Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Cafe

The runaway success of Eataly has only confirmed that NYC Italo-mania knows no possible bounds. Fittingly then, the legendary espresso bar Segafredo Zanetti has now finally made its way across the Atlantic to NYC, courtesy of Bari and Amrinder Kang.

Adopting the brand’s flashy, mod interiors (this time by Antonio di Oronzo, known for his design of the Greenhouse nightclub), the sexy all-day and late-night cafe will proffer speciality espresso creations and cocktails, as well as casual modern Italian cuisine. Best of all, unlike back in the home country, you won’t get dirty looks if you order a cappuccino after lunch.

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HoHo Rising

A while back the often maligned but generally easy guy to deal with Jon B of Home/Guesthouse fame was looking for a new spot to hang his hat. I steered him into what is now the Greenhouse space. I had been designing the property for the shelter crew of Timmy Regisford and Merlin Bobb, and it turned out they needed a partner. I felt strongly that the space, which has been a nightspot since pre World War II, was ideal — an easy-to-get-to cabaret downtown with few neighbors. A home run. Jon told me I was nuts for a couple of months, but then moved in.

I didn’t end up doing the design, as Jon brought in his guy Antonio Di Oronzo. I did do much of the layout, bar placements, and such, but this award-winning design is all Jon B and his vision of a “green” club. Dipster-hipsters don’t necessarily embrace the joint, but it does make money — not an easy task — and downtowners swarm to Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch’s “Vandam” parties every Sunday. For the fashion-gay crowd, it’s the only game in town.

The area is so isolated from Manhattan civilization that it doesn’t really have a name yet. Realtors often dub it Hudson Square. I have seen HoHo, which stands for Houston/Holland, as in the Clifford Milburn Holland Tunnel. BrooHoHo includes Broome Street into the mix. North Tribeca, West Soho, and South Village are also tossed around. My favorite is WeVar for west Varrick. Whatever it’s called, it’s about to be a different hood real soon. A half-dozen or more projects in development will give Jon B’s isolated outpost some company

The well-documented Trump Soho collaboration with Miami superstars Nicola Siervo, Karim Masri, and Rony Seikaly will bring the sexy set to the hood. Quattro and all the food and beverage joints at the Trump will skew the monied jet-set crowd a little down and to the left of their current Meatpacking District haunts. Four-star chef Daniel Boulud will open on the corner just north of Greenhouse with his new restaurant. City Winery across the street is open, attracting a mixed bag of yuppies and confused revelers now … but it could easily attract dreaded promoter types to its comfy confines and make a statement. Even the Vandam Diner has a liquor license, and there’s a buzz about it too. Up the road a bit at the Sheridan Square, an Egyptian crew headed by Mino, Romy, and Greenhouse bottle host Sammy is gearing to go. This is supposed to be super hush hush, or hu-hu as we say these days. Also very hu-hu is the forgotten Movido space. It’s getting looked at, my source tells me, by a French crew. This group is giving it a shot despite being saddled with a 2am liquor license. They are trying to get the 4am working but are running into HoHo community board opposition.

That’s a lot of activity for an area without a name. Maybe that’s the way it has to be. New development is everywhere as the banks see fit to contribute cash once again. Operators must look at the elbows and corners of Manhattan where developers aren’t digging in if they are to obtain licensing and stay in business. For potential residents, this Vandam strip is a horror during the day, as hundreds of thousands of cars make their way back to mainland America. But the honking and pollution are almost gone by the time the party people are going out. Whether it’s WeVar or HoHo, it figures to be the next MePa (Meatpacking) or OuCh (Outer Chelsea) in time for Christmas. We will all ho-ho-ho-ing in HoHo.

Mr. West Not the Best, Soon to Be BES

About a year and a half ago, Jon B took me to see a space called Opus 22 and asked me for my thoughts. I told him to pass on the property because of its location. He didn’t exactly pass but didn’t run with it either, farming it out to PR honcho Danny Divine and DJ Jus Ske. They hired Antonio Di Oronzo who did Greenhouse to do the design. That’s an award winning design, but I always felt what Opus 22 became — that is, Mr. West — was hideous and not very functional. When you create a joint off the beaten track, you have to be real good all the time. Consistency becomes a very important goal. Located in the pot belly of Manhattan, on 22nd Street just east of the Chelsea Piers, Mr. West proved to be a club too far.

Although only a five- or six-minute walk from Marquee and the 27th Street mall, and a five-minute cab ride from the Meatpacking District, it just seemed like the area was a suburban no man’s land. With nothing around, people showed up on off nights and were forced to cab it out. They never returned. The advantage of being in a club mall is that it’s easier — and without a cab fare, cheaper — to give a joint a second try. If it wasn’t popping the first time around, you might sneak back in while nearby the next night.

For new operator Patrick Duffy, the location is perfect. His last venture was the super chic and super secretive Serpentine, an invite-only adventure which attracted the mix of people that kept me in fine clothes and nice apartments for years. Uptown, downtown, gay, straight, all ages, lots of fun with forward-thinking DJs. Serpentine will now slither into the Mr. West mess along with a restaurant called BES (“Boutique Eating Shop”). Patrick Duffy is a clever fellow with a large and supremely loyal following. He’ll make a go of it.

My man Bugsy is hosting a comedy night called Chuckle for a Cause to help raise money for underprivileged kids who have little to laugh about. It’s at 8pm at Citrine, which I have been calling Latrine after they fired door guru Ross Hutkoff two days before his kid was born. They gave him back a night and are holding this important event, so it’s Citrine again.

My pal Mimi Margalit celebrated her birthday at Jane last night. The club is faced with a dilemma . The Jane doesn’t have a doorman until club hours or around 9pm. More and more people are arriving real early and sitting it out inside to avoid the tough door; the early business is grand, but when the summer ends, they’ll be wanting the administrators instead of the administrative assistants — the gallery owner rather than the gallery receptionist. It’s my favorite joint, and I hope it lasts. Mimi was a bit tipsy and was nicknamed Marinated Mimi for the evening. She wants to hook me up with a nice Jewish girl. I told her I would consider this idea providing the girl has no living relatives. It’s an awful joke but I’m sticking to it. Oh, and my spy tells me that Abe & Arthur’s looks delicious. Chef Franklin Becker will make sure it tastes delicious too.