After Yale ushered in a new era of gentrification with stores such as Urban Outfitters, Gourmet Heaven and Au Bon Pain gracing Broadway’s street fronts, two new club entrepreneurs have taken a page out of the University’s playbook.
Alchemy/Lounge 215 and Risk recently replaced Gecko and Club Liquid and are opening their doors to an upscale urban clientele. The two clubs, across the street from each other on Crown Street, are optimistic they can create a club-central in New Haven different from the legacy of violence and crowded streets that plagued the area before.
When Platinum 2000 (formerly called Crown Street) and Club Liquid occupied Crown Street, they often clashed with police over crowd control, underage admittance and violence.
In December 1999, a crowd leaving the Crown Street club erupted into a 10-person brawl. That was followed by a more serious incident on New Year’s Eve of that year, when a 16-year-old boy was shot. Andrew Siegel, then the owner of Gecko, blamed Platinum 2000’s partyers for scaring off his patrons, resulting in a 50 percent drop in club attendance.
In January of last year, the situation grew so bad the city threatened to close down the Crown Street club. Financial problems beat them to it as both the Crown Street nightclub and Club Liquid closed down.
Risk and Alchemy/Lounge 215 have provided a breath of fresh air for police thus far.
“We’ve noticed that there have been less calls for service in that area,” Yale Police Chief James Perrotti said.
Risk and Alchemy/Lounge 215 hope to avoid the pitfalls that felled their predecessors by creating a completely different environment. Before, the clubs played a majority of hip-hop music which attracted younger crowds. Now, the musical selection and over-all ambiance is aimed at an older crowd.
“Obviously we’re looking to attract a more mature crowd,” George Amaral, co-owner of Risk, said. “The crowd dresses very nicely. It’s an upscale atmosphere.”
Amaral, new to the area, was unaware of the problems plaguing previous night clubs on the block.
A nightclub is only part of Amaral’s plan to attract his desired crowd. Amaral also owns SoCo Grill, which occupies a slot below the club and offers a “cosmopolitan menu.”
“We’d like people to come into the restaurant and then to filter upstairs,” Amaral said.
Similarly, Alchemy/Lounge215 owner Michael Brown has constructed a club and lounge environment that differs from the stereotypical nightclub, he said. Brown also has plans to offer a food menu to his customers.
Perrotti believes the older crowd will not produce the same amount of work for his force.
“It was really the young adult population that was going into that whole area and I think generated some of our work,” Perrotti said. “Most of them were not students.”
Both clubs will also appeal to Yale students — Risk more directly, with an exclusive Yale night every Wednesday and a traditional College Night Thursday. Alchemy/Lounge 215 also offers a College Night every Thursday.
While both clubs have been in operation only a few weeks, the early indication is Yale students have taken a liking to the Au Bon Pains of nightclubs.
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