LEX Bar Brings the Downtown Vibe to MidtownJanuary 20, 2011 By: Sean Evans
Since the days of Bungalow 8 and Club Row on West 27th street, downtown reigned supreme in terms of club life. After Club Row dried up a few years back, the heart of late night revelry moved even further south to the Meatpacking District. However, starting with the opening of LAVO last September, a number of high-end upscale retreats have opened their doors and slowly began to rebrand Midtown Manhattan as a viable alternative for evenings out.
Enter LEX Bar, a 1,500 square foot posh lounge tucked inside the St. Giles New York’s The Court tower on East 39th Street. Operated by the Gerber Group, the space underwent a $200,000 facelift in August, whernit was gutted to the floors and every facet of the room was upgraded. Yet the biggest renovation isn’t reflected in the aesthetics; it was the venue’s very ethos.
“We’re located near Murray Hill, which is very known for the bar scene,” say Michael Marinoff, LEX Bar’s general manager. “There’s no reason we can’t succeed offering a high end product to the neighborhood. People who live around here have demonstrated their zeal for nightlife. And they’re mostly going downtown to satiate it. So we’re bringing the downtown party to them.”
Ask Marinoff how he’s accomplishing this and he smiles. “DJs,” he responds. “Everyone tries to get into places like Don Hill’s or Kenmare to see a favorite DJ, but those places are packed and people don’t make it in. We’re bringing those DJs here.” Spinners such as DJ Cat Pierce and DJ Calcutta and a number of other hotspot regulars are onboard, manning LEX Bar’s turntables Wednesday through Saturday nights.
“We use downtown promoters and have industry nights to help spread the word,” Marinoff says. “It’s a challenge to get the right people in the room, like people who think they’ll get a nosebleed by going above 34th street,” he laughs. With an occupancy rate of 200, the room gets packed quickly, and the 13 tables are usually busy.
Further enticing to crowds is the bottle service menu, coming at a great discount for those accustomed to shelling out hundreds for a table. “We charge by the number of drinks per bottle. A liter of Ketel One is 22 drinks, so that’s all we bill. No luxury tax,” says Marinoff. And no minimum spends, either. Guests stand to save at least half what they usually fork over.
The fact that LEX Bar is a “hotel venue” is a misnomer that’s quickly forgotten after entrance. It’s a stand-alone establishment that just happens to be situated within a hotel. “About 80% of the room is comprised of non-hotel guests,” Marinoff concludes. “Uptown is the new downtown. Now there’s a spot here for the neighborhood with the same essence they seek elsewhere - with the same DJ - that won't turn guests away.”