Owner Merchants Hospitality and manager Cachet Hospitality Group are shelling out between $5 to $6 million to fully renovate and upgrade the now-defunct OUT Hotel and club space at 510 W. 42nd St., near 10th Avenue, Cachet's president of operations Meredith Gelacek told Community Board 4’s Business Licenses and Permits committee Tuesday.
The club space inside the new Cachet Boutique hotel will house a “Playboy Supper Club” with a cocktail bar, a game room and a dining space, Gelacek said.
“Part of the brilliance of Playboy is that their brand is really special,” she said. “We will have [Playboy] Bunnies, but the reality is we are going to have a world-class restaurant, and we are going to serve incredible food, [and] it’s going to be incredible service.”
Playboy — which recently stopped featuring nude women in its magazine — is shifting its focus to the hospitality and retail business, Gelacek said, without noting whether the Bunnies would be acting as food servers or entertainment.
The company currently operates a supper club and casino in London, and is in the process of launching a Playboy lounge in Shanghai, she added.
“We look at this really as a dining experience,” she assured committee members and attendees. “It is not a nightclub.”
A tentative menu touted dishes like woodland mushroom risotto, roasted guinea fowl breast and pan-roasted sea bass filet. But it also includes more on-brand items like the $45 “Hef Burger” — a wagyu beef burger served with truffle ketchup, “skinny fries” and a glass of champagne.
Merchants Hospitality took over the lease for the OUT Hotel in July amid dwindling revenues, a little over a year after the gay hotel’s owners faced a boycott for meeting with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
The group plans to “drastically” alter the hotel space, attorney Joseph Levey said.
The new owners presented plans for the hotel at a CB4 committee meeting last month, but the board asked them to hold off on their presentation for the supper club, Levey said.
“There was an issue last month with the name ‘Playboy’ attached to this concept being provocative,” he explained. “We totally understand the community board giving the neighbors a chance to digest that.”
Committee members and attendees, however, were more concerned about noise-related issues.
“The music outside, and the serving of liquor outside, has been a serious disturbance [in the past],” said Joe Restuccia, a CB4 board member and executive director Clinton Housing Development Company.
Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association president Douglas Leland called the noise- and smoke-related problems the OUT Hotel brought to the neighborhood “nightmarish.”
“... [W]e really welcome the change from [OUT Hotel] to Playboy — we really do,” he said. “[But] we’re real neighbors, we really live here… and we want you to be good neighbors to us.”
At last month’s meeting, the owners agreed to stipulations including closing its retractable roof while serving alcohol and ending outdoor events before midnight, but returned on Tuesday because the owners “weren’t happy with the stipulations” committee co-chair Frank Holozubiec said.
The committee asked the owners to adhere to the previously agreed-upon stipulations, which Merchants Hospitality vice president Richard Cohn said wasn’t possible given the “flexibility” the venture needed to cover its costs.
“We’re going to operate in a professional manner — it’s going to be night and day between what’s been there before,” he maintained. “I appreciate and understand if you have a different viewpoint, but we can only agree to what we can agree to.”
The committee voted to deny the hotel’s liquor license application unless they agreed to the original stipulations.
The committee originally planned to approve the application for the supper club's liquor license with stipulations related to security, venue capacity, and other issues, meanwhile, but reversed its decision when Cohn said he couldn't agree to lower the occupancy number.
Both applications will go before the full board in January, and the State Liquor Authority will make the final decision.
“[W]e have all of this experience saying that noise out there disturbs 1,200 households,” Holozubiec said of the committee’s decision. “So we’re not starting from a clean slate.”