Wine and cocktail bar coming to the Dirty Lemon space on Church

The founder of the technology/beverage company Iris Nova has tricked out the space behind the vending machines he had installed on Church Street for his retail space called The Drug Store and will open (as soon as he gets through the state licensing process) a sweet little cocktail bar with a four-seat wine bar in the entrance, giving the new night spot its name: L’Entrée.

Yes, that was a long sentence, so to start in the middle then circle back. You all might recall the tiny storefront known as The Drug Store at 293 Church. Inside it had a mysterious setup: three refrigerated, unlocked coolers filled with pricey and popular bottled drinks — sparkling iced teas, infused lemonades — and no cashier. The transaction was honor system e-commerce. The space was designed to do two things: sell Dirty Lemon beverages and demonstrate a first-of-its-kind technology that founder Zak Normandin developed: buying products you use regularly (hence the drug store name) via a simple and quick text message.

He opened The Drug Store here in 2018, when he moved into the building as a resident. (The first one was on Elizabeth Street and there was another in Hudson Yards, but both have closed.) He took the lease on the entire space even though he was using just a fraction of the full floor (it once stored hot dog vendors’ carts) but since it didn’t have a c of o, the cashierless notion took hold. And over the next couple years he and business partner Cassidy Colgan renovated the back, adding a bathroom, a bar, velvet banquettes, exposing the brick.

They now rent it out as a private event space, but when it opens to the public, hopefully this coming March if all goes well with CB1 and beyond tonight, it will have an occupancy of 68 between the four seats in the front and the space behind the curtain.

“The pandemic changed our approach — and we started rethinking the retail side of the business,” said Normandin. “Before covid, we had hundreds coming through every day — Church Street was really busy then. It did well, but all the changes have necessitated a new way of doing business. The city is in a different state.”

The pair hopes L’Entree will be a neighborhood spot to grab a drink and a quick bite — a “proper nighttime space for Tribeca.” There’s a kitchen downstairs but they will only prep simple food like crepes, cheese plates, desserts. They want the bar to be a complement to their favorite local haunts: Anejo, Petrarca, Belle Reve. (Clearly they don’t like to wander far.) “What I want us a upscale place to grab a drink and meet with friends.”

Normandin started his first company — Little Duck Organics — in 2009 as a young father looking to find sugar-free options for his kids. He sold that company in 2014 to start a product development business and eventually launched Dirty Lemon “functional” beverages (they have health boosts in them such as charcoal and collagen) and his e-commerce platform. Those ventures continue while he focuses on some good old-fashioned retail.

“We always wanted to use this as a space to try out new cocktail recipes,” Normandin said. “And I’d love to see an investment in this neighborhood in a real way. We know we have a really great shell and we can work on the details as we go along.”

By the way, those are actual old French newspapers that Colgan found online and had Bestype reprint to paper the windows while they complete the lobby reno.

 

8 Comments

  1. Hope all goes well for opening of this lovely spot.

  2. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and have seen the space evolve over the past few. This will be a terrific addition. Look forward to making it my regular spot.

  3. Last night at the CB#1 meeting more than 48 residential neighbors objected to this night club for 20 and 30 year olds masquerading as a lounge. They’re the bad neighbor you’ve had with loud bass and crowds out front. An illegal air b&b keeps real tenants from stopping the noise. These are the types of businesses that are a local nuisance intruding into a neighborhood and disrupting it. Not the neighbor you’d want. Thank you to everyone that organized.

    • Mr. Rand- I also attended the CB1 meeting last night and live less than one block away from 293 Church St on White at W Broadway. The way you are handling this situation is truly disheartening and gives every indication of being nothing more than a selfishly motivated attempt in maintaining control of the block on which you own two buildings. Why not simply take the owners up on their offer to meet, listen to, and correct the issues you have voiced? It seems as-if the sound-proofing they referenced as being in-progress during the call will solve the majority of your complaints. The city needs more businesses right now. Vacant retail storefronts have created ghost towns on most blocks that encourage crime, homelessness, and vandalism.
      There is a way for businesses and residents to work together to achieve common goals, but it should not happen through pettifoggery and subjugation.

  4. I live on White street and our bedroom windows face the 293 space–the skylight in the back. The noise from the private parties that have taken place there is ridiculous. My 8yo child could not fall asleep on a recent Wednesday (school night) because of a birthday party there. How do I know it was a birthday party? Well, a loud countdown to a “Happy Birthday” that we clearly heard in our place gave it away. We have also experienced a crowd spillover onto White Street with drunken patrons waiting for their ubers late into the night. All in all, so far this business has been an absolute nuisance. And, while it’s always nice to see new businesses coming to the neighborhood, the proposed new bar would be on the same blocks as three or four existing restaurants/bars, creating a very high level of congestion.

  5. LT-

    I am genuinely sorry for any disturbance that our business has created for you or your family. I have a young family as well and live on Church St — I understand personally how frustrating it is to deal with noise while children are trying to sleep. As we have shared publicly, we are sound-proofing both the side window as well as the rear skylights to ensure no noise escapes from our space in the future — I am personally committed to ensuring no activity related to our business is a disruption to the community. I love this neighborhood and do not want to be a nuisance to any residents.

    I hope you will come to see that despite what is being reported, we have absolutely no plans to open a night club or any similar concept. Our space consists of two distinct sections, a four-seat wine bar in the front and a cocktail bar/lounge in the back — Both are inspired by 1920’s Paris and will feature music that compliments that period.

    The private events that have been held in our space over the last few months have been booked by local residents who are looking for a space to host birthday parties, baby showers, and other social gatherings with family and friends — they have not been planned by my company. We are renting the space to pay the rent and other expenses while we wait for the proper permits to open the business to the public.

    I would love the opportunity to meet you personally, as I think you will quickly see that my sentiment is genuine and we have the best of intentions for this business. Please give me a chance to correct these issues and prove to the neighborhood that what we have built has the potential of contributing positively to our collective quality of life.

    If you are open to this, my email is zak@irisnova.com — I will make time to meet whenever is most convenient for you.

    Thank you,

    Zak

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