It was with great sadness that Harlem watched as its famed Lenox Lounge got shuttered on December 31, 2012. The property located at 288 Lenox Avenue has been closed since then, stripped of its iconic interior and art deco doors and padlocked. It has been waiting to undergo a transformation by a new tenant hoping to breath life back into a space where Miles Davis and John Coltrane played, Billie Holiday sang, and the likes of James Baldwin and Langston Hughes graced those tables during the Harlem Renaissance. This week we finally saw some activity and we were fortunate enough to be able to take a peek.
The new tenant is Richie Notar of Notar Hospitality and at last report, he will open ‘The Lounge” this Summer with live jazz and maybe even some rooftop seating. In addition to ‘The Lounge,” Mr. Notar is planning on opening a Mr. Henry’s Bakery right next door. The menu will be created by Dwight Henry of New Orleans, with his legendary buttermilk drop donuts, sandwiches and salads.
We stepped inside to see what was left of the 1,200 square foot space and were delighted to see that the beautiful tile floor was still intact, but that was pretty much all.
The space is now completely gutted—an empty canvas that physically sits just a half block away from the 125th Street express #2 & #3 subway station on the Lenox Avenue Restaurant Row that has blossomed over the past few years thanks to Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster and Ginny’s Supper Club and enhanced last year with the renovation of Minton’s and The Cecil by Richard Parsons.
288 Lenox Avenue is directly across the street from the much anticipated Whole Foods, which is expected to open in 2015. It will add to the list of popular new restaurants on Lenox Avenue such as the chic Cheri, 47 Social Club, The Harlem Shake, Corner Social, Boulevard Bistro, Barawine and Cove Lounge—and the old favorites that drew so many of these to the area, like the famous Sylvia’s, Chez Lucienne, Settepani, and Caffe Latte. The wider list of wonderful Harlem restaurants and jazz clubs too long to print but worth a tour.
Richie Notar is no stranger to good food and music. His resume includes such familiar names as Studio 54, Nobu and the very glamorous 200-seat Harlow in Midtown, opened last year.
The Lounge and Mr. Henry’s look like a winning combination and we’re looking forward to seeing what the Summer brings to this stretch of Lenox Avenue in Harlem.