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April 19 2014

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The Beatrice Inn: 2006-2009, 2012-?

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Style.com contributing editor and party reporter Darrell Hartman circles the city and, occasionally, the globe in the line of duty. In a new column, he reports on the topics—whatever they may be at whatever given moment—that are stirring the social set.


If you’re familiar with the old Beatrice Inn—the Paul Sevigny, Matt Abramcyk, and André Saraiva club that defined a nightlife moment of the early aughts—you understand Stella Schnabel’s immediate response to the new one. “Where’s the shitty bathroom?” I heard her ask, at a recent dinner party there thrown by Barneys. It’s history, dear, replaced by a pair of very pleasant water closets that have fresh tiles on the walls (if they could speak!) and Diptyque candles. More than one mirror in in the front lounge—now a dining room—is scrawled with the injunction, NO SMOKING.

Graydon Carter’s gentrified restau-ration hasn’t opened to the public yet (though sources say it could be as soon as a few weeks from now) but it’s been serving as a buzzy venue for private events since September. Anna Wintour inaugurated the space during fashion week, with a birthday bash for Roger Federer that drew Nicole Kidman, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, and very possibly more Swiss people than ever visited the place during its three-year run as the hottest club in New York. That legendary run lasted from 2006 to 2009, until various code violations put an end to it. (One of my favorite documents of the old Beatrice is this music video featuring Rory Guinness.)

At the Barneys party, those days seemed long gone indeed. Two very nice people offered to check my coat the moment I walked in, and in the back room, instead of the drunken dancing and making out of the old days, you had Carolyn Murphy passing warm rolls in the direction of Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier.

The back room has a Casablanca look that’s reminiscent of Socialista, the West Side club best remembered as the place where an infected bartender may or may not have given Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek Pinault hep A. The most noticeable is a conservatory-style skylight. Such transparency would have been out of the question at the old Bea, but it struck Lisa Marie Fernandez as appropriate: “Natural light is good,” she said. Two nights later, at the after-party for Alex Cross, Russell Simmons and a pretty young thing lay down directly underneath the Bea’s new window on the world. The Post reported it as an impromptu yoga session, but it looked more like stargazing to me.

Not everything has gone smoothly. When I ran into Natalie Joos the other night, she recalled a Roberto Cavalli party there earlier in the month at which she got served “the worst mojito I’d ever had!” The maître d’ agreed with her, she added. “I think they were still figuring things out.” And Page Six reported earlier this month that Sevigny has threatened to sue Carter for failing to secure proper rights to the name.

A club with real cachet can be a valuable franchise, after all—just look at the global expansions of Bungalow 8, The Box, and Le Baron. “If they did want to reopen Beatrice the club again somewhere, they could be in an awkward position,” notes Travis Bass, who’s behind the downtown pop-ups Red Egg and Bottoms Up and whose latest venture at 199 Bowery opens November 9. On the other hand, The Beatrice Inn was a restaurant of the same name (and a well-known one at that) long before Sevigny got involved. (Sevigny didn’t return the voicemail I left him, and a spokesperson for Carter declined to address the name issue directly.)

In Bass’ opinion, there’s little room for sentimentality in nightlife. “It takes balls to take a space that iconic and fuck with it, make it your own. People should learn from that,” he says. And if you’re bummed (as I am) that there’s no room at the new Beatrice for the sort of high-low mixing that made the old one great, don’t blame the beautiful décor—blame the food. (That, by the way, skews toward the new-American type—Yukon gold potato soup with savoy cabbage and black truffle, pan-roasted striped bass, and steak frites at Kelly Klein’s dinner—though a bit lighter than some of the homey fare at Waverly Inn and Carter’s other haunts.) “Clubs are easier, because you can give free drinks to the artist kids,” Bass notes. “It’s harder to give away meals.”

Photo: Joe Schildhorn / BFAnyc.com

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