Studio XXI, Beauty & Essex, & Other NYC Happenings

I’m sated on leftover turkey and stale pies, which somehow remain delicious and undeniable. Yet another leftover being offered to me seems less palatable. I received an invite to Studio XXI (or SXXI to the in-the-know crowd). The space will be at the 59 West 21st Street spot that was formerly Citrine, and before that, Snitch. While Snitch had a bunch of rock and roll hootchie-coo moments, Citrine was an abomination. I think I referred to it as Latrine back in its heyday, which was just short of an Andy Warhol 15 minutes of lame. Citrine was everything wrong with nightlife and its passing wasn’t mourned.

StudioXXI approached me through a publicist, and except for this brief analysis, I’m going to ignore it. In nightlife, calling something ‘Studio Anything’ is blasphemy. Studio 54 retired that usage. To top it off, the invite sent to me says “This invite is for you and a guest and is non-transferable.” To me, that’s the equivalent of “No shoes, no shirt, no service” on a restaurant door. Unless I’m on a boardwalk, I won’t eat there.

The invite also has “New York, New York 10010” after the address, as if the crowd being invited might get confused and head to some similar address in Jersey. The space is upstairs on an awkward block, and in my mind, there’s always been a question about its legality. It seemed to have only one treacherous staircase as an egress, and a supporting fire escape, which I don’t think is a legal exit for patrons. Maybe I missed something, but I never understood how they got a legal occupancy of more than 75. Maybe they worked it out. 59 West 21st Street had some charm when rockers spilled beer on the floor, tables, and each other, as a band played on Snitch’s makeshift stage. I don’t know the players involved now, but it seems to be a secret or designed as a mystery. Maybe at some other time of year I’d be interested, but this week I’m really tired of re-heated leftovers.

I have been honored once again by being appointed a judge for the Nightlife and Bar Awards. The awards will be held sometime in March in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Nightclub and Bar Convention and Trade Show. Voting is due in this week and I can’t talk much about it. It’s all super hush-hush and serious. This year, I am only voting on categories relevant to my expertise. In previous years, I found myself scrambling to talk with tech guys to vote intelligently for best mixer or microphone or speaker categories. It’s best that the tech guys vote on that stuff. I will cast my ballot for the following categories: Mega Club of the Year, Ultra Lounge of the Year, Las Vegas Dayclub of the Year, and Las Vegas Nightclub of the Year.

Veranda, that 7th Avenue joint run in part by my pal Mino Habib, is celebrating it’s first anniversary. I have never been in the joint, but I do occasionally walk my dogs past it on warm nights. It seems like a nice enough place and Mino should be congratulated on the year.

I am excited about the new restaurant Beauty and Essex, brought to you by the fellas who gave us The Stanton Social: Rich Wolf, Peter Kane, and Chris Santos. I love Stanton Social. I think the Avroko design is beautiful and has stood the test of time. Avroko is also doing Beauty and Essex, which is located in the old M. Katz and Sons furniture store at 146 Essex street. That space has been the envy of countless operators throughout the years, and I’m just dying to see what they have done with it.

Word comes that Oded Brenner, who gave us those fabulous Max Brenner chocolate restaurants, will be opening a new spot called Little Brown Chocolate. Alas, the 2nd Avenue location didn’t survive due to a diabetic conspiracy, but Union Square still thrives. I often stop in to have a hot chocolate this time of year. It’s a relaxing respite from the cold Christmas hustle. February seems to be the target. Sometime around Valentine’s Day, I bet. I’m going over to talk to them soon and will tell you all about it.

Nell’s, Amy Sacco, Citrine as Latrine, Os Gemeos, & My New Intern

I call it Nell’s. Despite my deep affection for everything Noel Ashman, a space always maintains the name of its greatness, and 246 West 14th Street had its fame when it was named Nell’s. Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva received unanimous approval of the full community board yesterday, and they will open a restaurant on the ground floor and a club/lounge downstairs. Their success at Butter and 1Oak guarantees that this place will be grand, plus, I and my partner Marc Dizon have been hired to design it. We feel very honored. I designed Butter for them a number of years ago, and that experience really boosted my design career. They are a couple of bright guys who are very hands-on and deeply motivated to create something hot and fresh. This is a very sexy project, and I’m quite excited.

Amy Sacco has been linked to a Bravo network show which will chronicle the launch of her new New York City nightclub. I have, despite stories to the contrary, the greatest respect for Amy. She is one of the top-tier nightlife players, and I believe with a new place she will maintain her crown as the queen of New York nightlife. Bungalow is a legendary place, but the problems facing the West 27th Street club mall did not leave it unscathed. She is a class act, and I can’t wait to see the show and hang at her new place if she still loves me.

Moving on from a class act, I will now address an ass act. The firing of veteran doorman Ross Hutcoff by Citrine management two days before the birth of his son is despicable . Ross is one of the real good guys in this town, and more than that, he does a great job. I went to Citrine once to attend owner Adam Elzer’s wife Sachi’s birthday bash. She is a wonderful person and can’t believe Adam and Dave have done this. I don’t enjoy Citrine. It’s a young, not-too-classy crowd listening to common-denominator music in an awfully designed place. Yet all these kinds of shortcomings can be forgiven if the energy from management is honest and positive. When I went to attend Sachi’s party, Ross greeted me at the door. I was glad to see a familiar face amongst a faceless crowd. Again I like all three of the owners and am shocked by the severance. Ross is a great doorman and will get work I’m sure — I totally endorse him. Until I hear of a reasonable explanation, Citrine will now be referred to as “Latrine” in this column.

The wall on the corner of Houston and Bowery has a new mural. This will always to me be the “Haring Wall” because of the piece Keith did there so long ago. That piece was restored in honor of the late artist’s 50th birthday but was whitewashed the other day for a new masterpiece by Os Gemeos. The new mural has hundreds of delightful images hiding in its complexities. It is, in fact, dedicated to two people that have died recently. One (Iz the Wiz) was a legendary train bomber (tagger) from back in the day. The other was Sace from the Irak crew, who died of a heroin overdose last week at the age of 27. He was more commonly known as the downtown polaroid and installation artist Dash Snow. I saw another giant mural by Os Gemeos on a daytrip to Coney Island last week and was awestruck. The image at the top of this post is by photographer Mari Lowery; it shows a small section of the Houston Street wall. Keith would have loved it.

Pacha, on trial for its life, is awaiting a verdict from state supreme court justice Joan Madden. She will allow New York’s great mega-club to be open this weekend. Everyone is hopeful that the club will be allowed to continue operations as Judge Madden seems like an intelligent and fair hand. Without Pacha, the greatest city on earth is left with M2, which has been designed as an ultralounge but may pick up some of the slack; and Webster Hall, which. to paraphrase Yogi Berra, is “crowded but nobody goes to it.”

Last but not least, I need a new intern. Nadeska “Nasdaq” Alexis is moving on to tanner pastures, and I will be lost without her. I am looking for someone to help set up interviews, transcribe them, prepare me (which includes making sure my shirt is buttoned correctly and I’m not wearing two left shoes), and laugh at my bad jokes. You need to like going out of course, as you’ll get lots of invites through me, BlackBook, and otherwise. There is further major upside potential, as BlackBook likes to hire from these ranks too. Writing your own stuff can and has happened, both for online and print. Look up Nadeska’s body of work; she did a great job and I will miss her. If you’re interested, email me at {encode=”slewis@bbook.com” title=”slewis@bbook.com”}.

Industry Insiders: DJ Todd Mallis, Spin Purist

DJ Todd Mallis on being born with a DJ’s name, why you’ll never be Amy Sacco, and how people in the scene can go from green to dark if they aren’t careful.

What clubs are you working at these days? I am currently working at 1Oak, Citrine, Marquee, and Southside. They are green lighting, trying to keep it cool. I used to do seven nights a week for months at a time.

What’s your take on the state of the nightlife industry? What seems to me to be the biggest problem with New York right now is that it hasn’t evolved since the sets that Mark Ronson and Stretch Armstrong were playing back in ’97, which are still being played today. Artists and DJs are ready to evolve, and music has evolved, but the actual industry hasn’t changed. There are places like Beatrice Inn, Santos’ Party House, and places in Brooklyn that are out of the box, and it’s working. The customers are educated and smarter and cooler. I give 1Oak credit for mastering the perfect balance. They have bottle service, and they also hire good DJs and let them do their thing. Its not a controlling atmosphere where you are scared to be too creative cause you might not have a gig next week. I think it works there cause they have more owners with very different personalities …Jeffrey Jah, Ronnie Madra, Richie Akiva, and Scott Sartiano. Ronnie wants house, Jeffrey wants new wave, Richie wants hip hop, and Scott wants rock. That is a perfect matchup. It’s great. The kiss of death is when people who are opening a club say, “I want it to be just like Bungalow 8.” Cause you are not going to be Bungalow 8. You are not Amy Sacco.

What do you like about Santos’? Santos’ is cool cause they play a lot of sub-genres like electro-rock, etc. That’s their platform. Like for the past years, every other club’s platform has been hip-hop. They are ahead of the curve. They bring in all types of DJs. They have been flying these cool ones in from France. It’s an electro-hipster movement. Its super creative, kind of grimy and just cool. I think it’s great. For so long people didn’t want house music because it was a four four beat, and it was like, “Where do we go from here.?” House music has really grown cause there are so many creative kids out there that are using all the genres of music that we have been listening to and plugging it into the electro movement. It is working.

What started you in this game? At 19, I left college to come back to Manhattan, and a friend’s boyfriend was opening a lounge in Tribeca. Wass actually opened doing the door. It was like 1999 to 2000. Tribeca was no man’s land. They needed a DJ. My friend knew I had a record collection and turntables, and I didn’t have a job. I didn’t need a DJ name. People think it’s Todd Malice. It’s Mallis.

Do you still enjoy it? I started DJing to give people a release. I thought I would just be working Fridays and Saturdays. I was green. I didn’t know people would want to stay out all night on a Tuesday doing cocaine. Nightlife can be a drug, and people go out to lose themselves or to be someone else. I have seen so much in 10 years. I am sober 100% of the time. I don’t judge them. But some people never miss a night. You see a beautiful girl come into a club, and she is totally green. It could be a guy too. But you see them every, let’s say Wednesday night, for a couple of years, and they evolve into a dark person. It’s sad. They come up to you like “You’re still here?!” It’s like, yeah, I work here. I want to say. “But sorry you’re still here.”

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to 1Oak to see my friend Sinatra DJ.

New York: Top 10 Celebrity-Owned Hotspots

Scott Weiland’s Snitch is now Citrine, Tim Robbins is no longer behind the Back Room, De Niro’s Ago was critically panned, cholesterol problems await at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality, and Arnold Schwarzenegger & co.’s Planet Hollywood is a tourist trap, all’s not lost — here’s a list of celeb-owned spots worth looking into.

10. Bowery Wine Company (Bruce Willis) – “All for wine, wine for all” — it’s their philosophy, and we agree. 9. Angels & Kings (Pete Wentz, Travis McCoy) – Not short on cheap thrills; sex in the bathroom is encouraged. 8. Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC (Michael Jordan) – Though business may temporally be cooling, it remains the quintessential rich man’s cafeteria. 7. Nobu (Robert De Niro) – We hear it’s a bargain compared to the Nobu’s London outpost. 6. Santos’ Party House (Andrew WK) – Music aficionados looking to pick up oddball scenesters, look no further. 5. Haven (Bershan Shaw) – Like an old rich man’s study cum cigar bar (minus the cigars, but with the scotch), the dimly lit spot is a welcome relief amidst the midtown beer-guzzler bars. 4. The Box (Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Josh Lucas on the board) – Love it, hate it, or simply grossed out by it — there’s no experience quite like it. 3. Waverly Inn (Graydon Carter) – Given that you basically have to know the Vanity Fair editor to get a table, may we suggest brushing-up on your networking skills to avoid missing-out on a fireside truffle macaroni and cheese dinner? 2. 40/40 Club (Jay-Z) – Cigars, cognac, swinging leather chairs, 50-plus flatscreens, and VIP rooms aplenty — in other words, the swank hip-hop sports bar has Jay-Z written all over it. 1. Cutting Room (Chris Noth) – Sure, the crowd’s not the hottest, and the space could use a facelift, but catching at least one Joan Rivers performance should be considered a Manhattan must.

New York: First Look at Citrine

Here’s an early glimpse at a very rough, soon-to-be new Chelsea hotspot Citrine, located on 59 W. 21st St.(6th Ave.) in the upstairs lair where rock joint Snitch once dwelt. New owners are the affable David Rodolitz and Adam Elzer (the guys behind Impulse Productions, and the “junior Jason and Noah,” as some have called them). This hazy cellcam pic of the 250-person venue under construction was snapped about two weeks ago from the elevated DJ booth, so we expect the club should be looking more like the slick rendering below by this point.

The space was fully gutted and redesigned, so don’t expect the interior or the crowd to look much like Snitch. Think slick lines, tight door, loads of girls, bottles, etc. Based on the team of promoters and other industry folks putting their two cents into this one, we expect big things when they open in October. And the name? “Doesn’t mean anything — just sounded nice,” Rodolitz confesses to BlackBook.

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