Failed Wine Bar on Rivington Street Becomes New ‘Zen Chai’ Cafe
The tables were set, without a meal in sight. In life, but most recently in death. Such was the trajectory of Rouge Wine Bar, one of the biggest Hell Square failures in recent memory.
Now, more than a year after shuttering, its former home at 94 Rivington Street will transform into a cafe. Indeed, lime-green storefront signage reveals the imminent arrival of something called Zen Chai Cafe is on the way.
The windows are still papered, and a DOB permits indicates “minimal renovation” that includes “repartitioning of seating spaces” and additional plumbing work.
Not much else is known about the concept, at the moment. Yet, one thing is for sure. Any bid for a future liquor license here will likely meet fierce opposition by watchdogs with the LES Dwellers.
As for Rouge itself, the establishment was stillborn from the get-go, and its shutter should surprise no one in Hell Square. Their whole existence was forged with controversy. You’ll recall that this half-assed attempt at a wine bar, which always seemed to resemble a tacky furniture store than anything else, was operational for a couple days at the beginning of 2014, and immediately closed by the State Liquor Authority for not possessing a valid beer-wine license. They eventually did, but wouldn’t reopen until a year later, and still struggled to attract a crowd.
94 Rivington previously operated as a bodega until August 2012 when the business consolidated its holdings with the SX convenience store down the block at the corner of Essex Street.