Lakeside Lounge’s Replacement Will Be ‘A Place Where Girls Want To Go’

blackbirdSarah Darville Work at Blackbird earlier today.

Blackbird will open in the former Lakeside Lounge space next week with seasonal cocktails on offer and a longtime CBGB bartender at the helm.

As The Local revealed last month, the new bar’s principal owner is Laura McCarthy, an original partner in Lakeside who also helps run Bowery Electric, HiFi, and Niagara. Her operating managers will be Maria Devitt, a neighborhood bartender for over 15 years, including a 10-year stint at CBGB; Jesse Malin, who is also a partner in Niagara and Bowery Electric; and Mr. Malin’s bandmate in D Generation, Danny Sage.

During a stop-in earlier today, it was clear the former Lakeside space was getting a major makeover (ongoing construction has delayed a friends-and-family opening planned for tonight). Ms. Devitt said a new black-and-white look, which she described as “60s rock and roll,” would appeal to a broader audience.

“I said, ‘Let’s make it a place where girls want to go – have bathrooms that work and don’t smell horrible,’” she told The Local. “People say, ‘I love a dive bar. I love that it’s dirty and all that.’ And I enjoy it too – but I have to be pretty drunk to enjoy that.”

blackbird 3Sarah Darville Lakeside’s bar, under wraps.

Banquettes, wrought iron tables, mirrors and art deco lighting fixtures will soften Lakeside’s bare-bones vibe, and its plain, poured concrete floors have been cobbled over with black and white porcelain tiles. One significant element from the old dive will survive — the original bar has been cleaned up some, but kept in place.

Ms. Devitt said she wanted Blackbird to be a “comfortable, classy, but not pretentious place to have a drink” – something in between the neighborhood’s “dirty dive bars” and “ritzy expensive bars.” She said the cocktails would be on the simpler side. “They’re not going to be $18 to $22 cocktails. You can make a nice cocktail for $10 or $12,” she said.

blackbird 4Sarah Darville

Meanwhile, live music will be a thing of the past. “It’s a lot of work to make live music happen. It’s just not something we’re set up to do,” said Ms. Devitt. Instead, rock music will emanate from an iPod, and DJs such as Jonathan Toubin, who was set to spin at tonight’s soft launch, will occasionally hit the decks.

Though she witnessed the decline of another beloved live music spot, Ms. Devitt has a pragmatic take on the changes in East Village the music scene. “Listen, I miss CB all the time,” she said. “And there’s nothing else like it now. But interest had died down. When CBGB closed people were all up in arms because Varvatos moved in. CBs didn’t close because Varvatos wanted to open a shop. CBs closed because of a rent dispute. New York changes.”