[Former tenant of 64 East 1st Street, Smith; by Kalina, 7/10/02.]
Unlike those few special addresses that remain the same restaurant or bar for years and years, 64 East 1st Street has had three occupants and roughly four venue concepts in the last four years. Four-in-four is no record, to be sure, but it isn't exactly the stuff of staying power either.
Let's review: In 2002 the space, previously a glass shop, opened as the roughly French Smith (which is how it's pictured above, because that's how we like to remember it) and became the hottest restaurant in the universe for six months, then abruptly closed. The space then re-opened -- still a restaurant, mind you -- as Starfoods, which became more Southern and less French and, generally, began a slow fade into obscurity. Next up, Starfoods ownership split and the remaining partners invented Star 64, a 'French/Southern' fusion that lasted approximately 10 minutes as a restaurant. With bankruptcy fear having set in, they started to operate less as a restaurant and more of a drinking place, with more drinking-appropriate Thursday-Saturday hours. Four venue concepts, four years. And then Starfoods/Star 64, the make-shift club, closed for renovations, which gets us to the present.
The smart folks at Starfoods realized that drinking is their best bet for a lasting profit center so they decided to really go after it. Now, they are in the process of increasing capacity from mid-100s to mid-200s. They've added a mezzanine and a proper DJ booth; and, in a stroke of genius, they want to install a retractable skylight on the top level, to ensure that theirs is an open-air bar when the weather turns nice. The opening date for this new venue is quite a bit TBD, as these new plans have locals up in arms, made clear when representatives of Starfoods presented their plans for a new-and-improved restaurant -- semantics, no? -- to Community Board 3. Rest assured CB3 (and the First Street Block Association) will do everything in their limited power to ensure you never get to enjoy said skylight.
Though Starfoods' representation of the space as remaining a restaurant is deceptive, as it is plainly being transformed into a club, we do applaud the skylight brainstorm. We are eagerly awaiting venue iteration number five and, until we're living directly above said skylight, we wish them best of luck and at least a year of uninterrupted, sans-reinvention business.