If life is a cabaret, old chum, then The Darby is about to become one of the more entertaining places to live it up in New York.
Modeled after shimmering nightlife legends like El Morocco, Copacabana and The Cotton Club, the restaurant hosts nightly musical performances — replete with a six-piece band — in an attempt to resurrect grown-up glamour.
This story first appeared in the October 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We want to bring back a culture and style that’s been lost,” says Richie Akiva, who co-owns The Darby with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra, his buddies behind 1OAK and Butter (neither known as a bastion of civility). “It’s for a mature, sophisticated crowd that wants to go to a serious restaurant and not necessarily feel like they have to go to a nightclub afterward to have a complete night out.”
Upping the charge will be veteran cabaret performer Lady Rizo, who will serve as mistress of ceremonies at the venue and lead the band in pop songs, standards, jazz and winking badinage.
The Darby doesn’t officially open until Nov. 8, but that hasn’t stopped the fashion crowd. Narciso Rodriguez and Marchesa hosted separate bashes during fashion week with celebs like Jim Carrey, Harvey Weinstein and Leighton Meester. Jay-Z threw a 29th birthday party for Beyoncé there last month, while, on Saturday, Sean “Diddy” Combs hosted a 50th birthday dinner for music producer Andre Harrell, which attracted Tory Burch and Lyor Cohen, Selita Ebanks and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian.
Outside of the famous, there’s eye candy in the hostess uniforms, designed by Marchesa, and the aluminum latticework lining the walls and ceiling. The owners brought over Butter chef and Food Network star Alexandra Guarnaschelli to man the kitchen. Expect a nouveau American menu, with specialties such as oyster-stuffed filet of beef, roast Maine lobster with antiboise sauce and an extensive raw bar selection.
Keeping with its old-school, showbiz motif, a Broadway-style marquee with hundreds of lightbulbs will mark the entrance to The Darby. Downstairs, an original phone booth from former occupant Nell’s, complete with rotary phone, is yet another nod to the nostalgic past —Kardashians notwithstanding.