The Gates Shutters, Tammany Hall Opens, & Facebook Remembers

Although I hadn’t noticed it myself, word comes that the Gates, an unbelievably boring and predictable place I didn’t believe in, has shuttered. It was off to the left, a little too high up, and not cool enough to survive. To close right before the holiday cash-in tells a tale of deep dark failure. The guys who brought people to the place, Redd Stylez and Michael James, seem to have taken their show on the road – Redd to Studio XXI and Michael to Chelsea Room. Gates was snobbish without reason and badly managed. Although they made changes to correct initial blunders, this isn’t a second chance town. Their door was a disaster, all attitude with little knowledge or experience. Making mistakes at the door at a venue off the beaten path ensures failure. There are plenty of other places in town that desire “B” crowds and their money. At best, that’s all it was – a B, C, or D crowd in a badly conceived place. They spent what looked like 20 bucks rehashing the formerly beautiful Biltmore Room. They lasted way longer than I expected, but then again, I hadn’t heard a whisper about the place for 6 months.

“As one gate closes another opens,” said a fortune cookie. (Or was it a fortune teller/ or some guy at some table spending a fortune and being philosophical? In all this Christmas confusion I fortunately have forgotten). I went by the new 152 Orchard Street hang Tammany Hall yesterday. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had played there this past Monday. Tammany honcho Eddy Brady and Sailor Jerry Rum sweetie Dana Dynamite were texting me and e-mailing me to attend, but alas Monday is Bingo night for me and my clan. The new Sailor Jerry pin-up calendar release event was a smash I hear, and the early reviews for Tammany seem to be as well. Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was on hand, and the press people sent me pictures to prove it. I toured the joint with Eddy and Dave Delzio. Purist rocker, man about town, and all around good guy Dave will be upfront on this project, which prominently features a stage, proper lights, and appropriate sound. As I was walked around, workers were painting things red, while old school posters and photos of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall were being unfurled. They will be plastered on the walls to add some panache to the place.

My old pal Arthur Weinstein, who passed a couple years ago, celebrated his birthday on Facebook yesterday. His contributions to nightlife, and to my life, have been chatted about here, and cannot be underestimated. It’s amazing how many people took the time yesterday to wish him a happy one on his still-active Facebook profile. Facebook founder and Time’s Man of the Year Mark Zuckerberg has not only changed the way we live, but how we pass. Arthur is remembered and visited. His friends still stay in touch with each other years after he’s moved on. A special friend talks Arthur’s talk, and we suddenly feel like he’s with us. We see new images often, as people upload them. He lives in cyber space, and although I miss him terribly, I find solace there. Facebook is a relatively new phenomenon, and I see our present use of it as just the tip of the iceberg.

I bought an old 1930’s era phone for the restored Nells phone booth, which is part of our design at Darby. Many of the young crew working on the downstairs yesterday had never seen a rotary dial before. They couldn’t believe there was a time before push button technology. I told them that as a kid in Connecticut, we lived in a rural area and shared a “party line” with our neighbor. If the phone rang once it was for them, twice for us. Sometimes you would pick up the phone and they would be chatting on it. You would say “excuse me” and they would politely wrap up their call in a few minutes so you could make yours. It was a time when we had two channels on the television, which was the size of a sofa. There were no cell phones, and the only computers were in the Pentagon or NASA. As we approach the new decade, it just doesn’t seem cliché to me at all to ask, What will they think of next? I miss my pal Arthur, but will find consolation and comfort after I wrap this up with a “Hey” on Facebook.

New York Openings: Studio XXI, Hotel Chantelle, Chelsea Manor

Studio XXI (Chelsea) – One flight up for slick clubbing behind red curtains. ● Hotel Chantelle (Lower East Side) – Moulin Rouge-inspired cocktail spot aiming to be the belle of BelDel. ● Chelsea Manor (Chelsea) – Creative small plates, but please don’t dribble any lamb lollipop on the white banquettes.

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.