John Varvatos Reopens CBGB OMFUG
Varvatos, far right, with Jim Marshall.
After closing its doors for the last time in October 2006, 315 Bowery, the space that once housed the inimitable CBGB‘s stood empty and quiet. Memories of Patti Smith‘s wailing and the Ramones‘, um, wailing, began to dissipate. John Varvatos is here to change all of that. John Varvatos Enterprises announced yesterday that it would reopen the space in Spring 2008, with a store that “will be very rock ‘n’ roll, a museum of music history. We’re not going to recreate CBGB’s, but when someone walks in I want them to say, ‘Wow, there’s still something here, there’s still something rooted here.’
Of his decision to overtake the classic music joint, Varvatos explains, “I’ve been a huge music nut since I was a kid, and spent a lot of time at CBGB’s. I probably saw a hundred shows there, from Television to Patti Smith to Richard Hell to the Ramones. And when I went in the space I was sort of struck down. I thought, we need to do something here, to not see it turned into a bank or a deli.”
Iggy Pop, above, for John Varvatos.
He insists that his motivations have little to do with revenue, but rather a nostalgia of sorts. When discussing the cleaned-up Bowery, the designer says, “I don’t think the Bowery’s going to turn into a mall. We’re not going to create a glamorous storefront. It’s going to look like it could have sat there on the old Bowery. I want to be respectful to the area and to its heritage.”
So, how does Varvatos intend to stray from CBGB tradition? He deadpans, “The bathrooms will live on in our memories.” ’Nick Haramis
Photo courtesy Patrick McMullan Company.