By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
One of the most coveted spots in town has been snatched up. The building at 1446 South Broadway that had been Cafe Cero and then Open Tap will reopen as the Black Crown Lounge late this month. Business partners Mark Cameron and Brian Grace have been busy transforming the space into an authentic piano bar that will have what Cameron describes as an old-world, over-the-top, decadent country club feel. "For some people, it's a little bit much," he says. "But, hey, it's fun."
Furnished with a number of items from Grace's personal collection, including quite a few chandeliers, the Black Crown will feel like you're walking into someone's home — as long as that someone happens to be Cameron or Grace. Many of the decor items will be for sale, and the space will even function as a retail store in the mornings. "I'm not saying there'll be price tags hanging from everything," Cameron says. "There will be a discreet way of doing that that will look nice. As we sell things out, we bring in new things, and it helps keep us fresh."
When the lounge opens in the afternoon, though, the focus will shift to music and the Black Crown will become an authentic piano bar, complete with a Story and Clark baby grand that will act as a player piano when no performer is on duty. Cameron says they're hoping to resurrect the vibe of the old Garbo's, which once occupied the space where Opal is now. "We'll have a big gay following, but we're not billing ourselves as a gay bar," he notes. "The concept is great for anybody. I think the group will be a little older, in the 35-and-up group."
And because of that, the Black Crown will also emphasize service. "You're going to sit down to have a drink, and we're going to bring it to you," Cameron says. "It's much more about being comfortable and waiting on you."
The Black Crown will serve premium wells, classic cocktails and signature drinks; Cameron says they plan to develop a decent non-alcoholic menu and also start serving small plates. Watch for a grand opening the weekend of July 8.
Club scout: Since Andy Mannsfeld bought the building at 821 21st Street in 2004, the former home of Muddy's Coffeehouse has gone through a number of incarnations, including Club Evolution, the Loft, Club Ra and, most recently, Gallery 22, which the guys from 3 Deep Productions ran for a year with partner Kevin Kain and Mannsfeld before closing up in January. Over the past few months Mannsfeld has been operating the place as 2200 — but he ultimately hopes to sell the space. "Even if it did happen, it would take months to set anything up," he admits. "We'll be running strong right through the summer, at least."
In the meantime, it's business as usual for the club, which is now a prime spot for house music on weekends and Sunday afternoons as well as hip-hop on Tuesdays, and a gay night once a month. DJs Brett Starr and Rescue also recently launched their Therapy night on the last Friday of each month, when they bring in house DJs from around the country.