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On the House: On the Concept, the Vision of The Eldridge

On the House is our regular column written by the owners and operators food and beverage establishments in New York. Today, your proprietor is Mr. Matt Levine, owner of the upcoming space The Eldridge.

2008_02_onethehouseA.jpgMy name is Matt Levine, 26 years old, owner of The Eldridge. I live in Nolita, and have always been influenced and inspired by the Lower East Side when designing for my clothing line. For those that don't know, I started Steelo' 2 1/2 years ago with $500 in my pocket. Since then it has been selling in some of the top stores in the world. Steelo' is not a big brand, nor do I want it to be, and that mentality that I have with Steelo' is what I believe the LES is made of—individuality and personality.

When a space became available in the LES, with no intention of opening up a lounge, I decided to view it based purely on curiosity. I've always been involved in New York nightlife, even with my designs, but opening up a lounge was not something I really thought I wanted to do. However, when I saw the 247 Eldridge Street location, the vision and concept came to me.

I felt that NYC was missing a lounge which focuses on customer service and experience, a lounge with a luxurious decor (which I will explain in depth in Part 2 of this column) to match the top shelf liquors, a venue where DJ's can come play the music they want to play, a lounge not focused on credit cards, but focused on people, as an escape of privacy, intimacy, luxury and comfort.

There has been a lot of buzz and blog discussions about The Eldridge, but what has been lost in the translation is our concept. When we open our doors, we will focus on customer service. It is not just about bringing over a bottle of vodka, it is how you deliver and serve it. It's not just about making a mixed drink, its about how you make and present it. We could have opened already, but we want staff to have full knowledge of our menu. The Eldridge is an experience, not just an atmosphere.

What has also been misconstrued through the press is that this venue is not about celebrities, nor is it just solely about friends and family. The Eldridge is an intimate venue, and our door policy will reflect that. Like any other lounge that has come before us, we must maintain a door policy and accommodate a certain number of guests. We foresee our crowd being a diverse mix of patrons— the arts, music, designers, fashion, sports, and entertainment. If you enjoy funk, jazz, old school hip hop, R & B, rock, soul, and enjoy having a good time, with Julliard professors playing live music of flute, saxophone and trumpet in the background— and are looking for a truly creative nightlife experience away from the Meatpacking District, away from 27th Street— then The Eldridge is for you.

The whole concept and vision of The Eldridge is to create an escape from the suit and tie bottle service driven scene that has taken over NYC nightlife. One of my waitresses; asked me, “Matt, what if I have big spending clients, are they allowed in?” My response was “Would you go to the movies with them? If not, no.”

The drink prices are standard across the board with other lounges, $13 - $18 for mixed drinks, using all premium products, and along with just the drinks, you receive a high level of customer service (fruits, chocolates, and so on) in a comfortable, intimate and private atmosphere while listening to some of the best DJ's in the country.

A lot of blogs have solely focused on our signature cocktails – and that’s great, because they are amazing. The cocktail list was created by London-based famed mixologist, Charlotte Voisey. Those signature cocktail prices reflect the ingredients. For example, some of the cocktails require real golden or real silver edible flakes, some require fresh exotic fruit, some require caviar.

Most venues have bottle minimums and mandatory bottle service, and we believe that is the death of nightlife in general. At The Eldridge, we won't have bottle minimums. It is not a bottle service venue; rather it is a table service driven venue where we will be offering table service with bottles—there's a big difference. Guests are more than welcome to order cocktails or beers at the tables.

I'd like to end this first part column by saying that most lounges and venues open up with financial projections and monetary goals. Our #1 goal is our customers. Most people that know me know I am not motivated by money. Life is about setting goals, achieving the goals, and I personally believe in accomplishing a vision. To ensure our longevity is to keep true to our concept and vision, always being grounded and true to our roots and foundation. The LES is full of culture and character, and so is The Eldridge.
· All Coverage of The Eldridge [~E~]