The dinning /clubbing combo has always been a curious one at best. Those who are familiar with the old adage "Don't shit where you eat", can probably sympathize with the fear of finding a discarded cigarette butt in their ravioli. Ok perhaps an exaggeration, but eating among vodka drenched floors and smoked pit carpets can be disconcerting. So this of course begs the question, why are so many clubs like the fronting as restaurants and vice versa?
So is there really a trend? Intern-backed reporter Foster Kramer seems to think so. Back in the early 2000s, Lotus had full out dining on their dance floor until 11pm prior to the eventual evening shit show of bottle service madness. Cipriani's Downtown has occasional dining upstairs early on in the night, and Richie Akiva's Butter refined the niche, focusing on cornering the Monday night scene. The list goes on an on including the now defunct Socialista, and the ever infamous Merkato 55 "brunch" that is light on the food and heavy on the booze.
But there is now a new wave emerging, lead again by Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano. They plan to open up a new combo in the old Plumm space. And don't forget Noah Tepperberg's Avenue that's fronting as a "gastro lounge". And now there's Jon B who is teaming up with Todd English to open up a combo in Chelsea shortly.
So what gives? Has the word "bottle" become the pariah of the new economic club model that it single handedly built handle by handle the past ten years (no pun intended)? We hear the words "table", "lounge", "restaurant" but very little mention of the word "club" if at all. It appears that even the word "club" itself is persona non grata at this new party. shhhh...it's a restaurant.
The reasoning behind this new packaging could be the economy, or that the idea of large clubs are now passé and there is a new thrust for more discrete, smaller affairs. Or maybe it's as simple as the current set of owners/doormen have been in the game for a while, and don't want to deal with the hassle of a larger spot anymore. Hassles being large crowds, community boards, personal injury, and the other externalities that now plague 27th Street. If you can make the same coin, and deal with a much smaller intimate set that you have defined of the previous decade, why not?
So while the marketing may have changed, and you won't see a large room filled with Club Kids anytime soon, there will still be plenty of clubs to be had hiding in those restaurants that we probably won't be eating at anytime soon. Just make sure you know its a club before you decide to eat there next to someone's vomit from 3am the night before. Remember, as Ace Ventura found out the hard way, Finkle is Einhorn, and Einhorn is Finkle! So as you grab a tube of Crest and a plunger to douche your mouth, don't say we didn't warn you about the semantic games. Where there's smoke there's a club.