Three savvy women are behind Wise Men, a snazzy new late-night cocktail den on the Bowery. Good friends Danielle Levitt, Christina Chin and Caroleyn Ng have been hanging out together at restaurants and clubs for years, and finally decided to open a hangout of their own. "The place we wanted to create was the place we all wanted to go," says Levitt, an eminent photographer of celebrities and youth culture.
Chin, the creative director at sexy S Magazine, had the idea first. She grew up in the restaurant business: her parents owned the '70s-era Chinatown steak house, Wise Men. While the current iteration of Wise Men is not a steak house, meat plays a role. What looks like red patterned wallpaper is actually a blow-up of marbled Kobe beef. On the small plates menu are steak, a patty melt and French fries.
Vegetarians needn't lose hope. Stuffed mushrooms will help cushion the potency of Rob Roys and Sazeracs. Cocktails are $12 and food items are under $20.
"We're not totally upscale," Levitt says. "We want our quirky art friends coming in -- a racially, sexually, socially, economically diverse crowd -- the way New York was in the '90s."
The Bowery was a lot more iffy in the '90s, for those who don't recall. It's not the Meatpacking District yet, but boutique hotels and happening spots have made it a fashionable destination. Plus, all three women live nearby. "It's all in the timing," says Ng, who has worked extensively in the restaurant (China Grill) and hotel (Gansevoort, Dream Downtown, Shore Club in Miami) industries. "We'd been talking about it for years and when the space became available we snatched it."
"Without her we are nothing," said Levitt, extolling Ng's know-how. "We are something. Just not this."
Wise Men is located at 355 Bowery, New york. Visit wisemennyc.com for details.