Tenjune Owners Predict the Meatpacking District’s Demise

Remm and Birnbaum.
Remm and Birnbaum.

Steve Lewis’s blog continues to offer depressing snapshots of contemporary nightlife: In an interview in which Tenjune owners Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum try to explain why you should blow $5,000 dollars to sit at one of their tables, they tell anyone who isn’t a corporate type like them to forget about opening a club these days. Birnbaum shrugs off a feud with Stereo’s Mike Satsky (Birnbaum: “how silly is it when someone goes out of their way for no apparent reason to make an enemy out of you, because now instead of referring business to someone…”) and seems to slag on Lotus, the club that Tenjune will be joint-venturing with: “Lotus is still busy because they’re all tourists to be honest.” The real eye-opener, however, is that the guys, who say that hotels are their next area of conquest, seem to have all but given up on the meatpacking district.

Eight years from now there will no longer be a restaurant or a nightclub here because the rents have skyrocketed to the point where it’s $450 a square foot on the ground as opposed to $30 a square foot. When you look at the comparables, the Pizza Bar’s rent becomes $55,000 a month. Two months ago it was being rented for only $8 or $12,000 a month. When these leases end there’s going to be nothing but Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s. All these big retail brands are going to come in here. Our job now, in our opinion, is to look for the next area that isn’t highly residential to be a destination so people will go and catch it, because you are going to get priced out anyways.

On a slightly less depressing note, Birnbaum confesses that he was once the odd man out, not always the consummate tastemaker:

I remember me being the customer looking on and being like, I wish the owner of the club would come out and give me a handshake and a hug and walk me through the club and move people out of the way… I was just doing the finance and I was always watching.

Which raises the question: Considering that Beatrice, too, is owned by two former finance guys, are clubs in this day and age just a way for bankers to get an upper hand on the cool kids?

It’s Tenjune…Do You Know Where Your Bottle Is? (Part One) [Good Night Mr. Lewis]