What’s Behind NYC’s Hottest Restaurant Clientele?

Eater’s‘s recent post, “The 12 New York Restaurants With the Hottest Clientele,” was pretty spot on. I, too, have noticed the overflow of pretties as I patiently tried to nurse my hangover at Peels; I’ve checked out the front table at The Smile; and I’ve unsuccessfully tried to keep my date’s attention at La Esquina. (Which is crazy, because who can even see in that dark cavern?) In any case, there are reasons—good, plausible reasons, I tell ya!—why gorgeous cats congregate at these locales. Check it.

Peels Anything this closely related to anal warts means people are getting it on. Also: people who stick together like some kind of secret society are usually pretty—just ask cheerleaders—and the people who vie for their attention usually have low self-esteem but fancy themselves pretty, too. I mean to reference Adam Platt’s take on the kind of tight-knit crowd that frequents restaurateurs William Tigertt and Taavo Somer’s Freemans and Peels: “And although I never had a really bad dinner at Peels, I never enjoyed anything close to that clubby, clannish sense of occasion that makes Freemans such a unique place to eat,” Platt wrote. Sort of like saying he doesn’t want to hang out with Peels because she’s the Prom queen, right?

Rubirosa Leave it to Angelo Bianchi, former gatekeeper of the Beatrice Inn, to attract his attractive friends and former Bea clientele to his (delish, truly yummy) Nolita pizza spot. Even Eater admits Bianchi is curating Rubirosa’s cool, without actually admitting it: “Think Chloe Sevigny/Paul Sevigny types.” Those “types” happen to be proprieter/proprieter’s sister of the Beatrice Inn.

The Smile Eater says “The real hotties can be found between 1:30pm-3:00pm, Monday-Thursday.” That’s when owners/rugged cowboy babes Matt Kliegman & Carlos Quirarte drop by. Coincidence?

The Lion “In this super-VIP lounge, you might see Gwyneth and Chris, Matthew and Sarah Jessica, and maybe a Ronson or two.” No kidding, Eater. Those special-people types can also afford to pay for their $105 steak. You know who else can? Pretty, young women on the arms of Amex-wielding men. Oh, and trust-funders—who can also pay to pretty up. So, yeah. Also, in the vein of “birds of a feather flock together,” the art that adorns The Lion’s walls comes from the personal collection of this woman: image

Whatever Happened to the Jane Hotel?

Me New York City Building Department, you Jane. The paring down of the Jane Ballroom pleasure dome to a quaint little West Side bar is the result of a Tarzan-like approach to building permitting and such. The much-talked-about task force raid which led to this shrinkage is a situation far more complicated, problematical, and annoying than most believe. Matt Kliegman, along with Carlos Quirarte, has orchestrated the old hotel ballroom into one of the most enlightening places around. Jane hotel owner Sean MacPherson created a beautiful and romantic room that was the only game in town for so many. The Boom Boom Room, Avenue, and the Jane were a new crop of spaces leading clubdom to nirvana. Now the Jane is suddenly reduced, and its future will be defined by filings of architectural documents and the city bureaucracy.

I spoke to Matt Kliegman, who I consider a friend. I told him there are so many rumors reaching my rather large ears that the truth seemed hard to define. Matt said:

First of all we are 100% not and have never been closed. We were visited by several city agencies but not, as reported, by the Department of Health. Although we did receive multiple violations pertaining to occupancy and egress issues, we did not receive any DOH violations. We are working on remedying these occupancy/egress issues. We continue to address the concerns of our neighbors. We have taken many steps to relieve their concerns. We are not closed . We are very open.

With the Beatrice still closed, the Jane provided a home for a post-hipster set that now must find a new place to display their fall wardrobe. That is of course if they don’t embrace the wonderful front bar of Jane and its stuffed monkeys. I’m a big fan of all involved, but a look at the realities paint a solvable yet serious set of dilemmas. The road to heaven is paved with C of O’s, PA’s, sign-offs, and inspections that Jane needs to get straightened out.

A casual look at the situation reveals the architect of record applied for their public assembly permit based on what appears to be, according to my experts, “a misleading certificate of occupancy.” This C of O calls for an occupancy of 270 people for a theater. It seems their self-certified application for the public assembly indicated they had a C of O for an eating and drinking establishment. These permits are not just formalities but are put in place to make sure the public that assembles in a space are safe and protected in case of an emergency. Emergencies do happen, and when rules are not adhered to, people sometimes die.

I am not being overly dramatic. I was in the crowd at the great Gildersleeves fire on the Bowery back in the day, and the memory of patrons running around with their hair and clothing on fire and the speed in which this fire spread through the club has affected me greatly. As a club designer I am mostly commended for the flow or traffic patterns in my clubs. In Scot Solish’s article in his new Eater home he criticized, I believe incorrectly, the layout of the Boom Boom Room in regards to flow, while commending the Steve Lewis-designed Marquee. The club fire I lived through makes me very aware of safety and egress when I create a plan. Occupancy is not just the size of a room. Many large rooms have small occupancy because of many factors — where doors are located, the width of these doors, the condition of hallways leading to these doors, the distance between means of egress, exit stairs conditions, the standing plan or sitting plan. These are just some of the factors mathematically factored in to protect the crowds.

The Jane is filed as a theater, which is defined by the department of buildings as a place where scenery and scenic elements are used — a space where, during the major period of occupancy, the persons assembled compromise a seated or otherwise passive audience for a performance or presentation and have their attention focused in a common direction. That’s not what was going on at Jane, and now they have been found out and need to make some changes to their permitting and to the space itself. Complaints from the local yokels and community groups have unleashed city regulatory agencies, and the plans and filings will be scrutinized. The neighborhood didn’t sign on for the cab-honking and other disturbances a successful joint creates.

The Jane’s management has taken enormous steps to ease the pain, but the neighbors are organized, and the dotting of i’s and the crossing of t’s will now become major issues. Since 11/30 0f 2007, a bunch of permits pertaining to window repairs, ceiling repairs, plumbing, a re-support of that fabulous mezzanine and its reconfiguration, sprinkler systems, and air conditioning and such have been applied for. A quick check shows that sign-offs and approvals from the powers that be are sometimes lacking. I asked my pro: what does it all mean? How long will it take to straighten out? He just huffed non-optimistically. Sean MacPherson is a pro, and these kinds of “clerical” errors happen. I’m sure he will get it all straightened out faster than you can say “save the Jane.” I need a t-shirt.

My friend is looking for a few good men who live to dress up as women, or do drag, which can sometimes be different. I spent hundreds of hours with Kenny Kenny of Vandam fame at ancient doors talking about the myriad reasons that motivate some “gay” and “straight” men to dress up. Well, a wonderful charity needs a few performers for an event, and I put it out to you, my eclectic audience, to save the day. She says/he says:

well we are looking for any drag performers who would be willing to perform a number at the drag bingo fundraiser on oct.19th and being that you are the man around town I thought to ask if you would happen to know any drag performers willing to do a little number pro-bono at our next “drag bingo night” fundraiser this october 19th at superdive 200 avenue a? The fundraiser directly benefits trinity church’s program called safh,”services and food for the homeless” this is a full-service program located at 9th and b offering hot meals and take-away pantry bags five days a week, plus legal counseling and post office boxes for homeless and transient people of the village, les and chinatown. Http://trinitylowereastside.org/.trinity is a richly diverse congregation located in a richly diverse neighborhood. We are strongly ecumenical, strongly inclusive of glbt people, and strongly concerned about ministry to the poor and hungry.” they are also looking for a corporate sponsor for the event. $500 will do.

The “Inga Goes to Sweden” party returns to White Slab Palace this Friday after an after-Fashion Week hiatus. DJs Magnus Berger of The Last Magazine and Zara Zacchrisson (Lykke Li’s sister) will surely bring the best of the hipsters — those that change their shirts once in awhile. This week, it’s “Inga Goes to the Black Forest,” and I have RSVPed. My boy Travis always throws a great party, and White Slab feels like home. Then I’ll head to Jane to support. It is “very open” and I am very open to enjoying it as it comes.

First Look: Jane Hotel & Ballroom

I entered the historic Jane Hotel (see gallery) and was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It was here that I tried my first attempt to make money at clubbing. It was at that time a decrepit hotel with a balcony all around. Hotelier/proprietor Sean MacPherson showed me where this upper level was. “It was kind of silly, as it blocked the windows.” I told him that my deal was revenue-sensitive and that I actually jumped behind the bar to replace a rather slow (in many ways) bartender. Even then, I wouldn’t tolerate incompetence. It was a rough punk crowd with mohawks, torn jeans, and stomping boots. I think the Undead, a band I managed, were on stage, or was it “Khmer Rouge”? Time and impatience burn brain cells. The party was tattooed in my cerebrum when a leather-clad hardcore menace leaped from the balcony onto the bar as I served up a couple of brews. It was bedlam, and lots of fun.

I caught up with Matt Kliegman, who, along with Carlos Quirarte, will run this spot for Sean and Eric Goode. Matt and Carlos are coming off the mega-successful The Smile on Bond Street. They are to the north-of-Houston creative set what Gitane is to the south . That’s good food and a meaningful hang among neighbors and friends who think that art, beauty, and style are important, especially at a meal. The Smile is doing breakfast and lunch right now, but they’re waiting on a beer and wine license before they delve into dinner. A private dinner party last week had all the eating blogs buzzing. Matt said he liked the way it felt but will patiently wait for the license to get it right. Meanwhile, the Jane Ballroom is opening next Tuesday, and it’s the real deal.

Coincidentally, Matt had a year-and-a-half stint as a party promoter in his youth, and it was here that he ruled the roost. My dear friend Pavan suggested the remote SRO-type hotel as a venue option. Now, Matt and Carlos cater to what I describe as a post-hipster crowd — that’s peeps who lived the tragically hip lifestyle, but their careers and social and even economic circles now ask for a different type of nighttime boite. It’s a creative crowd, or those who are drawn to that crowd.

The Jane is stunning. It is brilliantly functional. It is fun. I love every inch of it. It is comfort taken to a new level. It is to me a cross between the old Spy Bar and Rose Bar. Wass Stevens said to me the other day, when describing the magnificent Avenue, where he hosts the door: “If you don t remember Spy Bar, maybe you don’t belong.” I think the Jane Ballroom will appeal to a broader crowd, and that analogy really won’t apply here — but I just wanted to quote Wass. There are lots of hiding places at Jane. I was surprised there wasn’t an outdoor space, but then Sean showed me one under development. Jane Ballroom is a lounge with the feel of a grand hotel lobby. It’s the kind of place where I would order a sidecar even though I’ve never tried one. There will be a Monday movie night from “up the river,” and maybe something live on Tuesday. The place will open at 6pm ’cause it’s got those chops — and it will go late because the public will not want to go home, ever.
The Tragically Hip Tickets