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A Brief History of Matt Levine's The Eldridge

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Today's news that the Eldridge would soon disappear from our lives made us wistful, remembering all of the great moments that the bar's owner Matt Levine has provided since he first announced the project in the summer of 2008. So on this sad day, why not take a look back at the two and a half years of magic that he provided?

It all started when the project was announced for the space that used to house Luv 24/7, with a young up and comer promising to launch the most exclusive and unique nightlife venue in town. But how would someone who had only run the small Steelo fashion line create a venue that would be "more exclusive and luxurious than anything currently out there" and "raise the bar on New York nightlife?" By sending out just 400 membership cards to the coolest crowd on earth and hiring some wanna be men about town to run the door, even though the capacity was just 130.

Before the place even opened, Levine made one of the most epic rounds of media interviews of all time, starting with the classic sit down with Grub Street in which he explained that the Eldridge would have chaperons instead of security guards, table attendants rather waitresses, and butlers rather than bartenders. On top of all of that would be a hospitality consultant to talk to the guests and figure out what they needed. The bar would have menus for all of the finest delivery restaurants in the neighborhood in case anyone wanted a nibble, and a sponsored chauffer to shuttle his guests back and forth anywhere they needed. Except to Brooklyn. He also famously promised to close during the summer weekends because his kind of people were not even in the City, so why bother to open and let anyone else in?

It kept going with an epic chat with Steve Lewis, where Levine explained that with the Eldridge, he "didn’t just want to read the book, I wanted to write the book, if you know what I mean. I wanted to get creative with it. I wanted to do something different." And what did that mean? Well it meant that "it will be a date spot like at Rose Bar, it’s a good place to bring a date. Then it’s like you’re at 1 Oak where you can dance. It will be everything all in one."

But then just what would things be like inside? Beside exclusive and high class, Levine set out to create a different kind of nightlife venue infused with a touch of culture. He explained the strategy in 2008, saying that on "Sundays we will have a saxophonist, Mondays we will be doing a movie night, Tuesdays we will have a trumpet player, Wednesdays we will have a drummer, and Thursdays a flute player." Fridays and Saturdays brought the whole band together, which may mean that the Darby really ripped him off.

It seems that it worked for a little while, as someone with no experience in nightlife managed to create a viable business for himself. But it wasn't long before the negative reviews starting coming in, as the door staff started to believe the hype a bit too much and began treating people poorly. The neighborhood even took Mother Nature's side after she managed to trash the place during a storm, not exactly the positive reinforcement a business person would want from their community. Even those famous laser engraved membership cards wound up being treated like shit.

Still Levine and the Eldridge soldiered on, helping him land a deal to run both a summer club in the Hamptons, take over the failed hospitality spaces at the nearby Hotel on Rivington, and host pop up events in Paris for Fashion Week, while the Eldridge still managed to get press hits every now and again. Unfortunately they were never for the club's stature in the nightlife world and more for hosting teenage pop singers for burgers and french fries after his fans became unruly. Only the Levant East part of the empire remains, but who knows how long that will last. Levine is promising to announce a new venture soon.

Now it's over. So let's remember the Eldridge, a lounge that was nothing if not unique, and its owner Matt Levine, a visionary who may have flown just a little too close to the sun.
· Ding Dong the Eldridge Is Dead [~ENY~]
· The Eldridge Coverage [~ENY~]
· Nightlife Coverage [~ENY~]

The Eldridge

247 Eldridge St, New York, NY

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