change of ownership

from The NY Post:

All the history that’s going to die with the Campbell Apartment

With its dress code, high beamed ceiling, and expansive window of century-old leaded glass, the Campbell Apartment is a strange place indeed for a bar brawl.

But a winner-take-all war has raged for six months within the granite walls of this dark and elegant dowager of a cocktail lounge in Grand Central Terminal — a battle that pits old against new, staid against trendy, an Old Fashioned with a stirring rod against black barrel whiskey with muddled raspberries.

This week, old — in the personage of longtime owner Mark Grossich — waved the white flag.

The Campbell Apartment’s longtime owner, Mark GrossichPhoto: Matthew McDermott

“It sucks, it blows, it’s totally unfair,” Grossich said of losing his lease, after 17 years running Campbell Apartment and a half a year fighting eviction in court.

Originally the offices of a Jazz Age financier named John W. Campbell, the space had been a water-damaged, drop-ceilinged shell when Grossich, at a cost of $2.5 million, lovingly restored it to its original, baronial splendor.

Scott GerberPhoto: Chad Rachman

As CEO of Hospitalty Holdings, Inc., which owns Midtown’s Carnegie club and Murray Hill’s Lexington’s, Grossich is a master of the timeless, intimate cocktail lounge, temples to single malt scotch, fine cigars and tufted upholstery.

…on July 28, Grossich must turn over the Campbell Apartment space to its new lease-holder, Scott Gerber, who runs such hip, jangly and galvanic lounges as the Irvington in the W Union Square and Mr. Purple on the roof of the Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side.

The new guy plans to transform the Campbell Apartment and its “business casual” dress code into something far less stuffy. Something less Brooks Brothers, more limited edition sneakers and Gucci T-shirts. …

Nearly a hundred years before it became a bit of an existential football, the Campbell Apartment was the business and pleasure lair of a millionaire financier named John W. Campbell.

A close pal and associate of William Vanderbilt — then chair of the New York Central Railroad — Campbell acquired the lease for the 25-by-60-foot space in 1923.

It was near Campbell and his wife’s Park Avenue home, and so would be a convenient spot for running his credit-reporting business by day and entertaining clients by night.

Campbell really knew how to trick out a corner office.

Photo: Warzer Jaff

He installed a grand piano, a pipe organ, a faux stone fireplace featuring his Scottish family’s coat of arms, a 30-foot ceiling with faux-wood plaster of Paris beams, and a massive hand-knotted Persian carpet, one of the largest in the world, that would have cost $3.5 million in today’s dollars.

Campbell, who died in 1957, was more a man of numbers than letters, and never ascended to the Astor 400, so there is scant record of him in libraries or old society page clippings.

But Grossich has spoken with his niece, Elsie Fater, who remembers that Uncle John oddly eschewed socks, even while wearing shoes.…

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from Eater.com: Classic Chelsea Luncheonette La Taza De Oro Is Closed for Good

“After nearly nine months in the dark, the owner of classic Chelsea greasy spoon La Taza de Oro has decided not to reopen the restaurant. The luncheonette’s troubles started last spring when Con Ed turned off the gas and the DOB issued a vacate order after a few bricks fell from a neighboring building. The restaurant’s proprietor, Eric Montalvo, also owns the building, but after losing nine months of income, he made the decision to close it for good. As Jeremiah Moss notes, he’s retiring and his kids don’t want to run the business.”

… “Last year, Robert Sietsema put La Taza D’Oro on his list of “irreplaceable dining institutions.”  Eater’s critic noted: “This 1950s Puerto Rican lunch counter, perfectly intact in every detail including formica counter and menu rotating in weekly cycles, is supremely redolent of Chelsea’s Latin past.”

A comment writer on Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY said: “This is, of course, punishingly sad. The neighborhood has lost Sucelt on 14th and 7th, and Cabo Rojo on 10th Avenue and 24th, and now Taza. I took my kids there every week. And what of all the jobs lost? Luis, Lucie, Reve, and so many others. And the impromptu art exhibitions on the walls. I saw Mr. Montalvo there a few weeks ago and, having noticed that he was painting the restored cornice yellow and red (like the rice and beans within!) I asked him when he was reopening and he said he was retiring. It is a miserable state of affairs, and so the last of the rice and beans joints vanishes into the ether. We will all miss La Taza de Oro. ” Another said, “Business by business, New York’s individuality and diversity is being erased. And there doesn’t seem to be anyone in a position of power who seriously wants to or is trying to halt this transformation. Not one. ”


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