The legendary Lenox Lounge Jazz Club will shut its doors on December 31, reports Black Enterprise.
According to the New York Amsterdam News, The Lenox Lounge, located on Lenox Avenue between 124th & 125th street which has served as a venue for jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, will serve its last drink at the end of the year, marking the end of an era in Harlem.
The lounge was initially opened as a speakeasy in 1939 and rose to fame as a dinner club catering to white patrons. The main act was the Haba Haba Girls, a chorus line of black women.
After corroding for most of the 20th century, Alvin Reed purchased and restored the venue in 1988, according to The Grio. Reed restored the original Art Deco interior including the long mahogany bar, checkered black-and-white floor and the world famous Zebra Room. The bar’s interior was returned to its original condition and served as the setting for numerous television shows and films including “American Gangster,” “Malcolm X,” and “Mad Men,” says The Grio.
“The most important thing I did for the club was to institute a jazz policy, which played a major role in bringing more customers into the club,” stated Reed. “I wanted to make a difference in Harlem, and I think my ownership of the Lenox Lounge helped me achieve that goal.”
Reed isn’t renewing his lease because he can’t afford the rent increase, which jumped from $10,000 per month to $20,000.
Attempts to find partners were unsuccessful. Reed, a native Harlem resident, said he’s disappointed to see so many area businesses closing up.
“We almost have to partner with someone from out of the community if we want to survive now,” said the retired city cop and post office worker, who claims he never made much money off the lounge.
Reed will take the iconic Lenox Lounge neon sign with him when he leaves.