Jakub Madej

New Haven’s night scene has a new addition after the Aug. 25 opening of Vanity Bar, a high-end nightclub, restaurant and event space.

Local entrepreneur John Mocadlo recently opened the space with his partner, Greg Maloney, on 144 Temple St., one block off the New Haven Green. The building formerly housed a church and a tavern before Mocadlo and Maloney completely renovated the inside, adding Swarovski crystal chandeliers, VIP bottle service sections, dueling pianos in the restaurant area and bathrooms designed like “million-dollar-plus homes.” All of Vanity’s interior embellishments are part of the business’s aspirations of bringing a higher class of nightlife to New Haven, said Mocadlo, who entered into the night life venture after 19 years in the car business.

“Nightlife has been dumbed down to … you stand on a patio with two speakers and you dance to the music. And they are charging you a lot of money for that,” Mocadlo said. “We feel that we want to be more competitive than that but [also] really give you the ultimate experience as if you went to the casino, or New York or Las Vegas.”

Vanity has already booked events ranging from bachelorette and birthday parties to a gender-reveal party, at which Mocadlo said they will be shooting blue-colored confetti out of a cannon. And just last week, Mayor Toni Harp watched the results of the primary mayoral election come in on the bar’s five-by-sixteen-foot television at a celebratory event she held there.

Mocadlo said he would like to see the club hosting names such as DJ Pauly D, Paris Hilton and Brody Jenner in the coming months. But he also maintains that the restaurant will remain an integral part of the space as well, as Chef Andrew Fine will create a high-end dining experience for all customers.

Jordan Melotti and Alex Benlock, two women from the New Haven area, found Vanity after walking over from another restaurant nearby to stop for drinks. Although they pointed out that Vanity was quite empty for a Friday night, both women said they loved their overall experiences. Benlock mentioned she had seen the dueling piano players at another venue and loved their energy, calling it “absolutely fabulous.”

The building’s interior also impressed customers.

“This place reminds me of Game of Thrones,” said Zainab Abiola Odunowo ’21, a Yale student who dined at Vanity last weekend.

Mocadlo himself said that, with its baronial interior features, walls of mirrors and oak-paneled staircases, among other accoutrements, the establishment resembles “Dracula’s castle.” The renovation of the old architecture was largely a product of local businesses and contractors, and Mocadlo said they were eager to source many of the renovation jobs to New Haven residents.

The two men hired an artist who had previously worked in painting restoration at Yale University to create a replica of a Giovanni Tiepelo painting on the restaurant’s ceiling.

Despite its luxurious atmosphere, Mocadlo promised that Vanity would make efforts to encourage Yale students to come to events and dance, offering incentives such as half-off tickets  with a Yale ID. Tickets listed on the website start between $10 and $25.

Vanity will also be offering college-night Thursdays, in which they will cater particularly to college students. Mocadlo said he envisions Vanity as a place where everyone from “people who work at McDonald’s to billionaires coexist and have a wonderful night.”

“Being here and being able to host my own party three or four nights a week and make people happy, excited and enjoying something in their element that they want to do of their own volition, is the most rewarding thing possible,” Mocadlo said.

Previously, 144 Temple St. was home to The Russian Lady.

Carolyn Saccocarolyn.sacco@yale.edu