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Shuttered Lenox Lounge to Reopen Near Original Spot This Summer, Owner Says

By Jeff Mays | January 3, 2013 6:21pm

HARLEM — The famous neon sign is down at the recently shuttered Lenox Lounge, but the renowned jazz club's lights will shine again on Lenox Avenue later this year, the owner announced.

Alvin Reed Sr., forced out by a doubling of his rent at 288 Lenox Ave., said he has signed a lease for a new location just a few blocks away at 333 Lenox Ave., between 126th and 127th streets, and will reopen this summer.

“Just as I restored Lenox Lounge in 2000, I am determined to expand the brand just two blocks away,” Reed said in a statement.

The new location will have two stories and an option for a third. There will be an art deco theme and plenty of space for musical acts to perform, Reed said.

Lenox Lounge, which closed its original location this week after a New Year's Eve party, had been open since 1942, hosting literary legends such as James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. The venue's Zebra Room, also known as the Jazz Lounge, hosted musical greats such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The famed art deco neon sign was used in countless photo, video and movie shoots.

“Of course the famed Zebra Room will get a second act,” Reed said in a statement. “Lenox Lounge has always been a spot where everyone — from Harlemites to foreign tourists — could hang out and listen to great music."

The former Lenox Lounge space won't sit empty for long. Restaurateur Richard Notar said he plans to open Notar Jazz Club there, with a restaurant and lounge offering his take on soul food.

Community Board 10 was supposed to vote on Notar's liquor license application Wednesday night but the vote was postponed because no one from Notar Hospitality showed up at the general board meeting.

The board's economic development committee previously recommended granting the license in a 7-4 vote, with one abstention.

Notar's company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tyreta Foster, Reed's lawyer, declined to comment on Notar's plans.

Michael Coker of Halstead Property and David Chkheidze of Massey Knakal Realty Services served as brokers on the new Lenox Lounge lease.

Community Board 10 Chairwoman Henrietta Lyle said she tried to set up a meeting between Reed and Notar with the hope that they could work together on maintaining the lounge at its current spot, but she had no luck.

"Lenox Lounge has been in our community for so long," Lyle said.

The famous lounge held its last bash at its old location on New Year's Eve. Peggy Taylor, a tour guide with Harlem Spirituals, said the mood was celebratory as Reed was telling the crowd that Lenox Lounge was not finished.

"Everyone thought it was going to be sad, but it wasn't," Taylor said. "This is a place that has been around forever. Everyone was hoping that it would survive."