EMM Aborts Finale on the Bowery, Tao is Taking Over

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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EMM Group washed its hands of the Bowery last week. But something bigger is on the way. Lower Eastpacking all the way.

After three years of public deception, lawsuits, static from the State Liquor Authority, and non-stop quality of life issues for residents and neighbors alike, Finale and its EMM Group overlords are out. Rumors of closure have persisted since at least last November, but now it’s final. And the popular nightlife group Tao is reportedly in the picture.

Co-owners Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm jetted from the neighborhood, with naught but a whimper. No big announcement or farewell, just an identity purge from the general EMM website. From what we understand, the 199 Bowery commercial unit officially changed hands last week. The locks were reportedly changed and gut renovation is already underway. Handwritten signs simultaneously appeared in the windows, indicating the 18,000 square-foot space is under new management, which is technically correct.

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Despite rumors last year of a Duane Reade outfit, we now hear unconfirmed whispers from those in the restaurant that Tao took over the lease and is opening a new establishment. Tao, which operates two Manhattan locations and one in Las Vegas; Tao, which has its hands in Lavo, Stanton Social, and Beauty & Essex, plus a dozen other nightlife brands. No indication if this spot will fall under the marquee brand or something entirely different.

Where EMM Group failed, Tao will more likely succeed. That probably translates to Meatpacking-esque crowding at the corner of Bowery and Delancey. And it’s entering a location undergoing absolute change. The adjacent CitizenM Hotel is a few years away, and the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery is waiting for its upscale makeover. We can guess that a liquor license will happen anyway. They’ll likely bank on pedigree and reputation to score support from Community Board 3 and the State Liquor Authority. But the footprint is enormous, as we’ve already seen with the previous operations. Perhaps the operators would garner greater neighborhood support if a section of the space was carved out for more practical daytime use. Maybe a market, hardware store, or the like.

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Finale Halloween party with Heidi Klum, December 2012

The Finale/Bow/General club complex debuted on the Bowery in the fall of 2012. Build-out lasted roughly a year, and included a 10-foot plywood shed sheathed in a mural by street artist Alec Monopoly. Its ritzy inauguration was a belated Halloween party starring supermodel Heidi Klum … delayed due to Hurricane Sandy. Yet even while the nightspot attracted A-list stars, behind-the-scenes drama never slowed.

The General shuttered last fall and has been quiet ever since. And then there was the departure of Top Chef Hung Huynh back in January.

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