Just What This Block Needs—a Burlesque Club

The demolition has already started at Little Charlie’s Clam House. All that’s still standing of the restaurant at 19 Kenmare is the bar that served drinks for the past 80 years.

The new tenants will also be serving something, but it won’t be food. Last week, Las Vegas club owner Ivan Kane, along with David Bowie and Sting, went to contract on the space to bring Kane’s burlesque show Forty Deuce to New York. The contract is for approximately 5,500 square feet in the basement and on the first floor.

The demise of the Little Italy restaurant was to be expected. On April 30, the 14,000-square-foot, six-story building it had been located in since 1926 was sold for approximately $10 million to David Zahabian. James Famularo, the sole broker on the deal, told The Observer at the time of the sale that Mr. Zahabian hadn’t decided what to do with the ground-floor space.

“David is in talks with a number of different companies,” Mr. Famularo said. “But Little Charlie’s is like a seafood version of Katz’s Deli, so he may end up just expanding it.”

However, in the end, dollar signs trumped tradition. According to sources, Little Charlie’s had gotten a “sweetheart of a deal” from the building’s former owners for the past few decades. This would not be the case with Forty Deuce.

Mr. Famularo, an executive vice president at New York Commercial Realty Services, wouldn’t disclose what the new tenants would be paying, but he did say that the rent would be “market rate.” Translation: Really expensive. Asking rents for ground-floor retail space in Manhattan average more than $100 a square foot annually, according to the Real Estate Board of New York. In some prime spots, including downtown, that average can run toward $1,000 a foot.

The New York outpost of Forty Deuce will certainly liven up the block of Kenmare between Elizabeth and Bowery. The hippest thing going on a street that includes a light-fixture store and a restaurant-supply outlet are those omnipresent iPod advertisements showing revelers in various dance poses.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time until a trendy establishment christened this block, though. Just two blocks to the west is Andre Balazs’ hipper-than-thou restaurant La Esquina. Freemans and Cafe Habana, two eateries where people love to see and be seen, are located just to the north.

One passer-by thought that the new spot would definitely liven up the neighborhood.

“The coolest thing right now is that lamp shop,” a young lady said as she pointed to Forty Deuce’s future neighbor. “Maybe some skin is exactly what this street needs.”

Just What This Block Needs—a Burlesque Club