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New West 16th Street Hot Spots Pledge No Lineups

By Mathew Katz | July 12, 2012 12:35pm

CHELSEA — So long, velvet ropes.

As West 16th Street prepares to become an even bigger nightlife Mecca than it already is, new hot spots on the block have pledged to keep it as traffic-free as possible, eliminating the once-cool cache of having a long queue outside of a nightclub's door.

The block of West 16th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues already hosts the Dream Downtown and Maritime hotels, along with the recently opened Bungalow 8 successor, No. 8. Popular Midtown restaurant Tao plans to soon open a second location in a chic space inside the Maritime, and BondSt, the oh-so-cool sushi spot, is gunning for a spot inside the Dream.

Prescient members of the Community Board 4 Business Licenses and Permits Committee predicted an explosion of traffic on the already-busy block, and asked several new spots for detailed plans to eliminate any lines they might have. Both the Maritime and Dream hotels largely shift their lineups to spaces inside their massive complexes.

No. 8, sandwiched between bigger clubs, has only a 20-foot-wide front and owners said it will have no lineup, but it is banking on the Bungalow 8 brand, which was known for throngs and celebrity-packed parties.

"The policy at the restaurant is if you have a reservation, yes, if you don't, move along," said Curt Huegel, the bar's owner.

"We haven't really had a problem with our front door at all. It's not that kind of venue."

"Yet," replied committee co-chairman Paul Seres. "It's going to be that kind of venue."

The club was pitched to the community board as a quiet, food-oriented gastropub before they found out that Bungalow 8 founder Amy Sacco would be involved. The board eventually reached an agreement with the bar's owners, LDV Hospitality, that it would not be called Bungalow 8 and Sacco wouldn't be involved.

Instead, Sacco owns a part of the company that licenses the Bungalow 8 brand and has hyped up the club through Twitter and event invites.

That led board members to ask LDV to submit new plans for security and line-ups more in line with a club than a gastropub, which the club said it would do by next week.

"If the concept is going to evolve, the security plan has to evolve, the traffic plan has to evolve, and the conversation has to evolve," co-chairwoman Lisa Daglian said.

With Manhattan's hot and popular crowds out of the city during the summertime, Seres said the club likely has until Labor Day to implement a comprehensive plan to stop lineups from piling up outside.

"I think you've got six weeks to figure out and get all the kinks out before everybody starts realizing what's going on on 16th Street, especially with some of the new neighbors coming in," he said.

The owners of Tao also made a detailed presentation in front of the board for the new 200-person space in the Maritime, and said they would set up an long indoor hallway space for busier nights.

"So if you had queuing, that's where it would go? Get it off the avenue?" asked Seres after looking at the plans.

"Yes," replied Paul Goldstein, the hot spot's managing partner.

"Love that," Seres said.