I visited my mom on Sunday and had a real good time, but of course, not a club good time. My mom taught me a few things — like, look both ways before you cross, how to tie shoelaces, and if you have nothing good to say about somebody, keep your mouth shut. Well, I’m sure she’s as right about these things as she was about Jeannie Luvullo and some of my other exes, but it puts her at odds with my editor. Sometimes I’ve just got to say nay. I visited The Gates the other night and was swept off my feet by a bevy of beauties who spent dinner plying me with information and reminders of how much I liked Michael James, who seems to be one of the owners out there. I do like Mike; I don’t like The Gates. I like Michael’s partners Redd Styles and Danny Kane, but I don’t like what they’ve done to the place. The old Biltmore Room (previously Rome) has existed on 8th Avenue between 25th and 26th streets since the 80s. It is a magnificent collage of marble and wood located in the armpit of Chelsea and Clinton — a no-man’s land of cheap stores and restaurants there to service F.I.T. and the city housing. If real estate sales peeps can offer their mantra “location, location, location” to set a market price, I can use the phrase to underscore the problems this joint is facing right from the jump.
The Gates is in a location only my mother would love. The old Biltmore Room got about 3 stars from The New York Times and still couldn’t pay the rent. Rome, a gay spot in the same location, could not get its core crowd to cross 23rd Street. It was like that impassable energy field on Star Trek that kept everyone in the galaxy — the gays just wouldn’t venture that one block north. Faced with this first daunting strike, The Gates’ brain trust did virtually nothing to the place to make it a destination worth the trip. Are they depending on the vacuous memories of models — who aren’t checking anything out but each other — to lure bottle buyers who are so young that they have never seen the place? Although the magnificent marble and wood paneling still remain, the addition of uninspired vinyl furniture, awful lighting, and spotty sound give it a strike two. But the inevitable pitch count will have to wait because I was told at least 10 times that it wasn’t the real opening. The Gatsby-themed event this Saturday night — which baffled a Nick Carraway-type publicist and I as we chatted in the middle of the dim room — was a pre-opening soiree. I hate the pre-opening concept. Open right, or wait until you get it right. Five people told me that more (ugly) furniture was on the way. It reminds me of a story my mom once told me: Two old Jewish women were eating at a Catskills resort, and one old Jewish woman turned to other and complained, “Sadie, you know the food here is terrible?” To which Sadie replied, “Yes, Gussie, and the portions are so small.” If you don’t get that joke, feel free to call my mom. Again, I like the players involved, and I think they are generally liked, so I hope they tweak it and it’s a winner.
The other ‘G-named spot this month is The Griffin. Here “location, location, location” is really in the favor of management. The last time I mentioned The Griffin, I was poked because my partner Marc Dizon was the lead designer on the project, and I was “blowing up my own shit,” and it was “self-serving”. The Griffin is found where PM used to be, right in the heart of the Meatpacking — a location, location, location that dreams are made of. Diagonal from the Ganesvoort and Pastis, The Griffin will enjoy more foot traffic than a podiatrist. However, where The Gates’ management are a crew of nice guys, The Griffin’s honchos are less loved.
Although I enjoy a respectful relationship with Chris Reda, formerly of Room Service, there are many who ask me how. I don’t know Stevie D., (at least by that name) well enough to say anything bad about him, but I do know Adam Hock, and here I will take my mothers’ advice and keep my mouth shut — not without a small observation, however. Adam Hock has the honor of having presided over the last club in the Meatpacking to belly-up, which is PM, the current Griffin space. With a “location, location location” like 50 Ganesvoort, it seems almost impossible to fail there, yet it did. He did. In fact, I can’t think of another club that failed in the Meatpacking — oh, I just remembered one: “G Spot.”