Legendary Jazz Landmark Lenox Lounge will shut its doors forever New Year’s Eve, says longtime owner Alvin Reed. The cool Art Deco cabaret has been open since 1942 and has hosted a Who’s Who of musical icons such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday.
Reed who’s owned the bar since 1988, says the exceedingly high rent –$20,000, double what he has been paying–has forced him to give up the lease.
Richard Notar, a managing partner at Nobu Restaurants is set to take over the space after the new year. Notar told The New York Times he hopes to keep the bar as “an old watering hole” with live music, but it’s unclear if he will work out a deal with Reed to continue using the Lenox Lounge name.
I would have to say that Harlem will remain a part of me no matter where I live now. It is where I landed when making the west to east coast transition 17 years ago. I was leaving an idyllic black bourgeois existence, looking to open my eyes to what city life is. The relationship was long done. If you weren’t into anything TV, the conversations lasted 5 minutes. I hate to knock LA, but hey I am a native who needed more depth.
What better place to immerse myself and learn women’s health but Harlem. Let’s just say I got that and then some. For the record, as a resident doctor in OB/GYN, you live at the hospital. 135th and Lenox was my home. I didn’t pursue medicine to ask what insurance you have. I am a doctor to serve and empower my patients, plain and simple. The bulk of my Harlem women had a lot to deal with outside the hospital and for that matter their babies would as well. I became committed to providing the best care for them to tackle those injustices outside. I learned the power of women, the resilience of new life, the dedication of servants, like me and the joy of the 2/3 train with even its live entertainment at 652am. This was way before Starbucks and H&M, but of course Sylvia’s was happening and the Lenox Lounge was truly a lounge.
MGM and Culver City were oh so far away. It was a pretty crazy move with no relatives, a couple of friends here, but tons of possibility.
I would come to really know what urban means and, then some.
By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLife
According to NY1, Zagat surveyors, the experts on rating everything, have bestowed our historic and charming Lenox Lounge in Harlem with strong ratings, not necessarily for drinks and music, but for food, i.e. dining out. Sharron Cannon, general manager of Lenox Lounge, said their entire menu has been revamped where they now offer homemade made items.
In the NY1 video, the Lenox Lounge food dishes look divine and they must be because Zagat issued Lenox Lounge high marks. Located at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, Lenox received a 23 for appeal, nineteen for decor, twenty-one for service and an E for expensive. What can one expect from a place where legends like Billie Holiday, BB King and Miles Davis use to hang.
Since our inception well over a year ago, HarlemCondoLife (HCL) has been introduced to several interesting people living and working in Harlem-particularly local artists who have a positive link to Harlem. HCL would like to introduce some of these individuals to you, along with their work, in hope that you will be moved and amazed by the wealth of talent that lives right here in our Harlem community. We certainly are impressed and excited to have you meet some of these talented individuals on our blog site. To help us kick off our first HCL Artist Profile, first up is a local watercolorist. In a Q&A (questions and answers) format, meet Lynn Lieberman in her own words on Harlem in watercolor.
What is your area of specialty? And why do you feature Harlem in your art work?
My primary area is watercolor. I live, work and create right here in Harlem. Most of my work is small format-note cards of everything from the famous Lenox Lounge to Apollo Theater to Lee Lee’s Bakery, where Mr. Lee displays my painting of his bakery. In an effort to capture more of Harlem, last year I created a watercolor map of Harlem, which was updated this year and can be viewed on my website.
As for why Harlem, we have street after street of graceful prewar buildings, each with their own unmistakable curves and lines. Many have been home to the people who reside there for decades, and signs of love and longevity protrude from window boxes, along with flower pots and signs in the windows.
Does Harlem move and inspire your art work?
Inspiration here in Harlem is endless for a watercolorist. No matter how many times I walk the streets of Harlem, I always see something different and new to paint, from the Harlem Meer in the Fall to Fields Court at Christmas to the colorful Minton’s Jazz Club, Mike’s Newsstand on 122nd Street and Lenox Avenue, and to Tonnie’s Minis, where they also display my note card painting of the place.
Is it challenging to use Harlem in your work?
The only challenge to painting Harlem is what to leave out.
Aside from watercoloring Harlem, HCL has to ask what are some of your favorite things about it?
Harlem Seasons. At the first sign of Spring and all through the Summer, window sills are abound with color right up until Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees with lights. No Holiday is forgotten here.
Harlem people. Where else in this City can you find people sitting on the sidewalk in their beach chairs enjoying a beautiful Summer evening or barbecuing in front of their building?
Harlem has a plethora of green space from our major Parks to our local Green Thumb gardens-giving us easy access to hours of walking or bike riding from the minute we walk out our front door.
Our diversity is great. I was born here in the City and have lived in a variety of places over the years, always returning home. Harlem is a place where I feel most comfortable and the place where I live with my family.
In full disclosure, I have purchased notecards from Lynn as gifts. They were a hit on the receiving end with friends and family. Don’t miss out on seeing Lynn’s work in person. Her work is currently hanging, with framed pieces for sale , at Native Restaurant and Il Caffe Latte-both on Lenox Avenue and for sale unframed at www.afinelyne.com
And if you know of a local artist we should spotlight on HCL, who resides in Harlem and their work is linked to all things positive about Harlem, please send your recommendations to email@example.com.