[New York Peasant by Wilfrid: December 31, 2012]
We dropped by Lenox Lounge to pay last respects before it closes tonight. The seventy year old bar and jazz spot is passing into new ownership.
It's not that business is bad, rather that the current owner can't pay a $20,000 lease serving inexpensive drinks and charging moderate covers for jazz sets.
In steps Richard Notar, a Nobu managing partner, who plans to continue a live music program.
The burning question is whether the existing owner will agree to the new owner using the Lenox Lounge name. This isn't merely a question of nomenclature: the unmistakable, historic, but un-landmarked facade is built around the name.
If it's the Lenox Lounge no more, the look of the place is bound to change.
Truthfully, I hadn't stopped by in quite a few years. There are so many worthwhile places to visit, so little time. I wish I'd spent more hours propping up the long art-deco bar, looking through the glass doors to the rear zebra room.
It was busy this weekend for brunch: not full in the back, but not far from full either. On Sundays, twenty bucks bought you brunch, live music, and unlimited Bellini's.
Let's hope Mr. Notar can find a way to re-invent the place without eradicating the memories. Keith McNally, after all, succeeded with Minetta Tavern (although we'd still like the painting of Joe Gould put back).
Anyway, I'm glad I made it back.
As ever, we don't know what we've got 'til it's gone.