Lenox Lounge set to re-open two blocks to the north of its longtime location

Lenox Lounge set to re-open two blocks to the north of its longtime location
Thursday, January 3, 2013

By Michael J. Feeney / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS


Lenox Lounge will be back, the Daily News has learned.

The iconic Harlem jazz lounge at 288 Lenox Ave. closed its doors on Dec. 31., but owner Alvin Reed told the Daily News he has already found a new spot just two blocks to the north.

“We took the sign down,” Reed said on Wednesday. “We took the Art Deco out of there . . . We took all the stuff that we need to recreate a Lenox Lounge in another location.”

The “new” Lenox Lounge will be at 333 Lenox Ave. near W. 127th St, according to a statement released by Reed’s spokeswoman on Thursday. The space, formerly a hair salon, had been vacant for two years. Reed said he hoped to be open by summer.

The new location, adjacent to a Papa John’s Pizza, puts Lenox Lounge just steps away from two newer hotspots, Corner Social and Cove Lounge. And it’s across the street from Sylvia’s restaurant and a block away from Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster.

“Just as I restored Lenox Lounge in 2000, I am determined to expand the brand just two blocks away,” Reed said in his statement, adding the new space will have two floors with an option for a third.

He also said that well-known Art Deco features of the original Lenox Lounge will be brought back to life.

“Of course the famed Zebra Room will get a second act,” Reed said. “Lenox Lounge has always been a spot where everyone — from Harlemites to foreign tourists — could hang out and listen to great music. Lenox Lounge has always been and will continue to be less commercial and more authentic.”

Reed, who has owned Lenox Lounge since 1988, did not renew his lease at the world-famous location after the landlord hiked the rent from $10,000 to $20,000 per month. The jazz institution was known for hosting legends from Billie Holiday to Miles Davis.

Details of the new deal were not available, but sources told the Daily News that Reed will be paying less rent than he was paying at his old location.

Meanwhile, passersby took pictures of the former Lenox Lounge without its signature sign. That space is being re-opened as Notar Jazz Club.

The new owner, well-known restaurateur Richard Notar, has inked a deal to open a new jazz lounge at the location that housed Lenox Lounge for more than 70 years. Notar has said he plans to open his new club in March and doesn’t want to “change a thing about how it looks.”

David Chkheidze of Massey Knakal Realty Services brokered the 15-year deal with a 10-year option for the new Lenox Lounge. It was signed on New Year’s Eve.

“I’m very excited,” Chkheidze told the Daily News outside the new location. “Lenox Lounge is iconic, and it’s not going away.”

He said the space — although smaller than the former Lenox Lounge — will include a lounge area and a back room with a skylight.

“This will be a one-block destination,” he said, noting the other popular hangout spots along Lenox Ave.

Harlemites were excited to hear that Reed would be opening a new location, but many questioned if the proprietor could successfully transport the atmosphere of his original location.

“It’s not the same, though,” said lifelong Harlem resident Caroline Banks, 47. “No matter how they construct it, it’s not going to be the same.”

Al Brown, 52, agreed.

“It’s going to be different,” said Brown, a regular at Lenox Lounge. “It’s not going to be the same feeling.”

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