Burgers and Burlesque on the Menu at Proposed East Village Restaurant

By Serena Solomon on October 23, 2012 8:24am 

EAST VILLAGE — The buns on this menu aren't only for the burgers.

A new restaurant project is looking to blend burgers with burlesque in the East Village, under a plan by a veteran nightlife operator to combine classic American fare with the risqué dance performance.

The concept is the brainchild of Timothy "Lorenzo Cortelli" Simpson, who has worked in the hospitality industry for more than eight years and is hunting for an investor to create a Moulin Rouge-style joint that serves up fishnets along with diners' French fries. 

"I think something that everyone loves is burgers — a good old American tradition — and burlesque is entertaining," said Simpson, 30, who goes by his middle name Lorenzo and the last name of his grandfather, Cortelli, in the hospitality industry. 

"I want something that everyone is going to love."

The concept is "fully developed," said Simpson, who has a business plan in place and is eyeing several existing bars near bustling St. Mark’s Place to convert into a space with a 1890s Paris feel in the coming months.

He also posted an ad on Craigslist seeking a potential investor to put up $150,000 for the project.

"It's 2 American traditions that everyone loves," he wrote in the ad, "and low food cost for us."

Simpson envisions the candlelit establishment as "clean, sleek and sexy," and has already picked deep burgundy as the venue's signature hue.

"Burlesque is interesting, and it is simple, too," said Simpson of the variety show, which often involves a striptease and elements of satire bordering on performance art. "It is a great concept that is catching on."

While burlesque has been around since the mid-1800s, it has started to gain popularity in the city in recent years, especially at Lower East Side nightclubs that host regular performances like the Slipper Room, Nurse Bettie and The Box.

TriBeCa's Duane Park, a well-known burlesque joint that's operated for 25 years, is also planning to relocate to the East Village in the coming months, after brokering a venue-sharing deal with the Bowery Poetry Club.

The name of Simpson's venture has nearly been decided, but he declined to elaborate on it pending any last-minute copyright issues.

Simpson is also keeping his potential locations under wraps, but said there were three bars he is currently looking at, including one near First Avenue and East Sixth Street. 

"Several of the locations selected are turnkey [ready-to-use] and ready to start operating tomorrow if I get the funding," said Simpson, who is angling for either a silent or acting investor prepared spend six figures on the venture.

"It is getting a lot of positive feedback from potential investors," said Simpson, noting he hopes to open sometime this winter.

The Inwood resident has spent eight years working for BR Guest Hospitality, which owns several restaurants and bars around the city and country, including the Upper East Side’s Atlantic Grill and the Dos Caminos Mexican-food chain.

"I started at the bottom bussing tables and worked my way all the up into management," said Simpson, adding that he has spent time working in every aspect of a restaurant industry.

"I stuck my nose into everything," he said.

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