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Ousted Wine & Roses Founder to Open New Bar

By Leslie Albrecht | October 10, 2011 7:16am | Updated on October 10, 2011 12:19pm
Columbus Avenue wine bar Wine and Roses.
Columbus Avenue wine bar Wine and Roses.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — This rose hopes to bloom again.

Jennifer Klein, the former Jordache Jeans model who was ousted as a managing member of Wine & Roses wine bar after a bitter dispute with her business partners, is opening a new bar and restaurant on the Upper West Side.

Klein plans to open her new establishment, called Dakota Bar, on West 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, in the space formerly occupied by Indian restaurant Earthen Oven, she told DNAinfo.

She said she chose the prime Upper West Side corner because it's a short walk from her apartment across from the famed Dakota apartment building. It's also less than two blocks from Wine & Roses, but Klein said she's not interested in competing with her former partners, who removed her as a managing member after both sides publicly accused each other of mishandling the wine bar's profits.

"The more the merrier," Klein said. "It's a community up here."

Wine & Roses's current managers could not be reached for comment. Klein's dispute with her Wine & Roses co-investors grabbed headlines when police forcibly removed Klein and her husband Todd from the celeb-friendly restaurant in 2010.

The court ultimately sided with Wine & Roses' majority owners, saying they had the right to fire Klein, who remains a part owner, according to Wine & Roses' attorney Mark Smith. Klein, who says she founded Wine & Roses, sued her former partners in an attempt to regain control of the bar, accusing them of slander and defamation. The lawsuit is ongoing.

In the meantime, Klein said she's thrown herself into creating Dakota Bar, which she promised will bring an upscale, yet whimsical, vibe to the neighborhood.

But don't call it a wine bar, she said. "Every place is a wine bar now," Klein said. "Gas stations are wine bars. (Dakota Bar) is a bar, but the bar is going to be utilized for many different things."

Dakota Bar will have seating for about 65 customers, an enclosed outdoor cafe area and a lounge for private parties, Klein said. The bar will have a long wine list, a full restaurant menu, a late night menu and "contemporary cocktails."

Community Board 7 recently approved transferring Earthen Oven's liquor license to Klein's new venture.

Klein, who ran a snack food company for 13 years after her stint modeling designer Jordache Jeans in the 1980s, is also working on a book about wine and cooking. She's renovating the Dakota Bar space and hopes to open late this year or in early 2012.

"We know we have one of the best corners on the Upper West Side," Klein said. "We want to turn it into something different, something unusual, that's all about our customers, and give them the best hospitality, warmth and love."