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BY SEAN EGAN | “I spent a lot of time going out, checking out the nightlife in the city, and just not seeing any venues that really cater to a slightly older crowd,” explained Jeff Wittels. “I wanted to bring this back to New York.”
This line of thinking resulted in the forthcoming Retroclubnyc — a club Wittels will run, catering to guests 35 and older and focusing on throwback music from the ’70s to today. The venue secured a space at 161 W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), the former home of Meridian, and just last week Winick Realty Group signed a 10-year lease on the location.
According to Wittels, they’re aiming for an early-spring opening date on the two-floor, approximately 200-capacity club.
The heart of the venture, though, is the music — a sphere Wittels has significant experience with.
“I have a massive personal collection of vinyl. I mean, I did DJ work many years ago, so I’m going to be personally handling that whole aspect of it,” said Wittels, who favors danceable cuts. “We’re going to have turntables, vinyl — it’s going to be a little bit of a throwback.”
The throwback vibe will even extend to the imbibing options. “We’re going to have kind of a retro drink menu also, specialty cocktails, which is going to be pretty cool — bringing back some of the drinks from back in the day,” said Wittels, who noted that the menu (in addition to their light food options) is still in development. “That’ll be fun for people who haven’t seen that in a while, and also for people who just have never experienced some of the older drinks.”
Wittels, did ensure, however, that the decor would not indulge in kitchy trends from decades past. “It’s not going to be corny; it’ll be fun. It’ll be new, interesting, chic,” he commented, noting that they’re currently in the design phase.
Though the opening is a ways off, buzz has already been building via the two Instagram accounts that Wittels runs — @Retroclubnyc and @Vocalclubnyc, which highlight the kinds of old school songs that will be the club’s bread and butter, and singer-songwriters and live acts Wittels enjoys, respectively. It’s a division that will also manifest itself in the club.
“It’s a two-name venue, which is unique. It’s Vocalclub and Retroclub, and you’ll see that right on the front,” revealed Wittels. “We’re going to have live music earlier in the evening, and then switch over to more DJ music.” Bridging the gap between the two, Wittels also noted that he plans on working with live cover bands to play old hits as well.
“There’s been a lot of positive response from the neighborhood already; and people slightly older are really excited about having a place to go to,” Wittles asserted, noting that he’s only heard positive reactions. “Chelsea’s just a fun area; it’s near the High Line, it’s near Meatpacking — everything’s there. It’s just a nice part of the city,” he said, theorizing that its easily accessible location could attract guest from all across the city.
Ultimately, for Wittels, it’s about creating a friendly, positive experience to stand in contrast to many of the less-welcoming, trendy options in the Downtown area.
“I want [guests] to feel like they’ve had a good time, they’ve had fun, and enjoyed themselves,” concluded Wittels, who wants people to leave “excited and happy to come back.”