04 December 2012

Another Great One Gone: Lenox Lounge to Close

One of the greatest and most lasting landmarks in Harlem—Hell, the whole city!—will be lost Dec. 31 when the famous Lenox Lounge closes its doors.

Owner Alvin Reed, who brought the historic jazz boite back from the dead in 1988, declined to renew his leave when the landlord—guess what?—doubled the rent. Guess the greedy landlord saw the gleaming Red Rooster down the block and figured he should be getting richer than he was. Reed owns the rights to the name, so the new tenants will reopen it as the Notar Jazz Club. Richie Notar is the managing partner in the Nobu Restaurants group, will be taking over the space.

"If they want to use Lenox Lounge, they will have to negotiate with me," said Reed. "I brought it back and I want to see it stay there. I want to keep the legacy alive. I am Lenox Lounge, and I will be Lenox Lounge for quite some time. And if they want Lenox Lounge, they want me."

Every jazz great played Lenox back in the day. The interior is a living museum. I was there just a few months ago. Few spaces in New York can match the magic of that art deco interior. When a good combo is playing, and couples are chatting and drinking, the scene is classic cosmopolitan urbanity at its finest. It takes little effort to imagine life in New York during its post-WWII heyday.


mingusal said...

This one really hurts. The place, and everything about it down to the sign and that wonderful elongated octagonal window in the front, should have been landmarked. I don't blame Mr. Reid for his anger though, and his determination to keep the name he paid and sweated for. And now - from a real, historic Harlem jazz spot to an ersatz Nobu-esque vanity "jazz" lounge. The greed, and lack of cultural history, just keeps eating this city alive.

Ken Mac said...

just when it can't get any worse, it does.