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Hybrid Jazz Club, Bakery and Restaurant To Replace Crash Mansion

By Julie Shapiro | January 10, 2012 1:03pm
The former Crash Mansion and BLVD nightclub at 199 Bowery.
The former Crash Mansion and BLVD nightclub at 199 Bowery.
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LOWER EAST SIDE — A combination jazz club, bakery and Asian-fusion restaurant will replace the shuttered Crash Mansion and BLVD nightclub on the Bowery, its new owners announced Monday.

The restaurateurs at EMM Group — best known for their Meatpacking District hotspots Catch and Abe & Arthur's — plan to convert the sprawling two-floor space at 199 Bowery from a rowdy club that had frequent problems with neighbors and the police, residents said, to a high-end dinner spot for celebrities and locals alike.

"Nightlife is being replaced with late-night dining," said Eugene Remm, a partner at EMM Group, in a presentation Monday night to Community Board 3's liquor license committee, which voted to approve the application.

A show at Crash Mansion in 2010. The former club is becoming a high-end jazz venue and restaurant.
A show at Crash Mansion in 2010. The former club is becoming a high-end jazz venue and restaurant.
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"This is an alternative to a 4 a.m. mega-club," he continued. "We're looking to step outside the box, do something different."

Chefs Franklin Becker and Hung Huynh, who won the third season of "Top Chef," will helm the main restaurant's kitchen, turning out shareable small plates with Asian influence, inspired by its location on the border of Chinatown.

Patrons will enter through a small storefront bakery, which will open daily at 6 a.m. and serve coffee, sandwiches and salads, along with made-to-order specialty cakes. The open kitchen will be visible from the street, so passersby can watch the chefs at work.

The operators plan to locate the main, formal dining room, which will feature a DJ booth, behind the bakery and kitchen.


Downstairs, there will be a more casual, 1920s-themed dining space, with a stage that will host jazz musicians.

Remm said he hopes to open the as-yet-unnamed restaurant in September.

Community Board 3's SLA Licensing Committee unanimously voted Monday night to give advisory approval of EMM Group's liquor license, allowing the new establishment to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. seven days a week.

While a couple of residents raised concerns about noise and traffic, most of those who spoke were impressed by Remm and partner Mark Birnbaum's promises that they would hire staff to direct traffic, secure the entrance and sweep the sidewalk.

Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, said he had spoken to community leaders in the other neighborhoods where EMM Group has establishments, noting everyone said the company was a good neighbor.

"Someone's going to fill it," Zuckerman said of the Bowery address, at the corner of Spring Street. "We may as well have someone who's a total professional [and] has the resources."

The condo board of 199 Bowery met with EMM Group and was impressed with the restaurateurs' commitment to addressing quality-of-life issues, a representative said. The condo board agreed to support the application.

"It would be good to have larger-scale dining options in the neighborhood," said a resident of 199 Bowery.