Former Dark Room Bartender/DJ Looking to Open New Venture at Troublesome Ludlow Street Location

Posted on: March 8th, 2016 at 5:12 am by
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The Dark Room officially kicked the bucket at the beginning of February, thus capping a twelve-year run for the sub-level nightclub. However, now one of its former bartenders is looking to make something happen here.

One Lori Coleman (pka Ludlow St. Associates LLC) is the untested applicant of record who will appear before Community Board 3 next week for full liquor license. The plan here, according to the application, is to impart some sort of lounge “focused on a variety of whiskeys,” plus DJs. Closing times will remain 4am all days, but there will be alterations such as exterior “downward lighting,” enhanced soundproofing, coat check, and grilled cheese menu.

Lots of behind-the-scenes speculating, too. From what we gather, the liquor license was placed in “safe keeping” in mid-February after the Dark Room ceased operations. Apparently, this is a typical trick when owners fear a license revocation is at hand (e.g. Gallery Bar to Max Fish), as it enables the establishment to retain value for future sales purposes. This allows ownership to collect a handsome key fee during a transfer, collected on the backs of suffering longtime residents. Neighbors surmise the same is happening here.

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A “missed connection” by a Dark Room Patron, March 2015

The Dark Room debuted in 2004 and, for a brief period, became the focal point of the downtown rock scene. Bands such as the Libertines and Interpol were known to throw after-parties there (Tarts of Pleasure DJ sets, too). But it became a quality-of-life problem for the block and surrounding community in the ensuing years. Talks of its demise bubbled to the surface periodically, but were usually exaggerated. Then in 2012, Michael Auerbach (No Fun) and James Woods (THOR) tried to install Bodega at 165 Ludlow, described at the time as “an old-school Lower East Side bodega meets a sophisticated and sexy speakeasy.”

All along there was controversy, from State Liquor Authority suspensions, Department of Health closures, links to heroin overdoses, and a constant rash of larcenies. So much so, that the 7th Precinct unofficially deems this establishment a thorn in its side.

Continuing the club trend with a whiskey lounge has some locals worried. When reached for comment, Diem Boyd noted that it was the diligence of the LES Dwellers that led to SLA violations, and ultimately ushered in the closure. The neighborhood block association continues to urge residents to be vigilant of bad operators within the confines of Hell Square.


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