Lenox Lounge Legacy
Watch a short video about the Lenox Lounge and the famous figures who performed there. Learn more about Harlem Residents: http://bit.ly/Ryx1xg Learn more about Black History: http://bit.ly/XGDK9i. Built in 1939, the Lenox Lounge was a hub of Harlem’s cultural life, attracting famous regulars like Billie Holiday and Langston Hughes. In December 2012, the Lenox Lounge closed its doors with plans to open at a new address.
Lenox Lounge was a long-standing bar in Harlem, New York City. It was located in 288 Lenox Avenue, between 124th and 125th. The bar was founded in 1939 by Dominic Greco and served as venue for performances by many great jazz artists, including Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. Harlem Renaissance writers James Baldwin and Langston Hughes were both patrons, as was Malcolm X.
The bar deteriorated through the middle of the 20th century. Alvin Reid, Sr. purchased it in 1988 and restored the original Art Deco interior from September 1999 to March 2000, during the only closure in the bar’s history.
In 2012, a rent increase threatened to shutter the establishment. In December 2012, it was announced that it would close at the end of the year. However in January 2013 Reid said he was reopening at 333 Lenox Avenue and that it would have its iconic neon sign there. Richard Notar, who owned the Nobu Restaurant chain and who took over the lease on the original 288 Lenox location, said he would maintain the decor of the original 288 lounge which does not yet have a name.
Both the exterior facade and interior of Lenox Lounge were featured in the film American Gangster. In one scene Denzel Washington‘s character, Frank Lucas, meets with Nicky Barnes (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the renowned Zebra Room at the Lenox Lounge. The Zebra Room also was used for a key scene in the Mad Men pilot, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”
Photos and some footage of the Lenox Lounge also appear in a season 2 episode of the television drama, White Collar, titled “Countermeasures”. The lounge was set as the scene of the final showdown of the episode, wherein both Neal Caffrey and ‘Ford’ were being held against their will, forced to print 1991 one-hundred dollar bills.
The Lenox Lounge was also set as the hangout for criminal/hitman Remmy Powers (played by Paul Guilfoyle) in the New York Undercover episode, “Eyewitness Blues” (1994)New York Undercover: “Eyewitness Blues” (1994). In the episode, Powers also rents a residential room at the club.