The New Upscale
The address: 900 Houston St., the current location of Bar Nine, the third club to open in the spot in about as many years. Though no one’s quite sure why, Nine’s predecessors, Club Vivid and Sol y Luna, didn’t fare well. The location is prime, close enough to Sundance Square to attract foot traffic but far away enough to keep out the weekend warriors. The space is also nicely appointed and big enough to fit about 50 folks comfortably but not so big that a group of 20 feels adrift at sea.
A possible explanation for the lack of success may lie in the fact that the two previous clubs didn’t have a specific audience in mind. Nine does and is going after it without reservation. While Vivid and Sol y Luna paid lip service to upscale customers, Nine owner Jarrett Joslin is putting his money where his, um, money is. Up until this point on this side of I-30, upscale nightclubs seemed to attract mostly trust-fund babies who tote trophy wives, play golf all day, and go to brunch. Now “upscale nightclub” means “New Hollywood – or pretty damn near close to it.” Like its lodestars, 60 Thompson in New York City and the Montmartre Lounge in Los Angeles (and, closer to home, Dallas’ Candle Room), Nine offers secluded VIP areas, bottle service (a fifth of Ketel One Vodka, for example, will set you back $210), and a “black VIP membership” for $1,000, which includes top priority on table seating, personal table service, and 24-hour access to an outsourced concierge service (which comes in handy when you get a wild hair and wanna high-tail it to Vegas for the night).
OK, I hear you saying, is Fort Worth ready for this? For folks like us, the answer is a resounding no, but did you know that not too far from Bar Nine, the multi-million-dollar dwellings in the recently opened Tower are almost all sold out? Or that Fort Worth gets its fair share of visiting celebrities, especially the kind that prefer the laid-back vibe here to the constant schmoozing that goes on in Dallas and Austin? (Helicopter pilot Harrison Ford trains nearby at Bell Helicopter and has been spotted downtown at 8.0, Sam Shepard’s been seen in the Stockyards, and the Big Apple Café is where all the Dallas Stars hang out.)
Well, Jarrett Joslin knows, and judging by the quality of the details that have gone into sculpting his sexy new club, he’s known for a while.
Now for the $64 million question: Will plebes like us feel comfortable there?
The answer: Honestly, I don’t know yet.
Pretty much all night at the club’s soft opening last week, I bounced from one extreme to the other: One minute, I felt like a troll who’d just crawled out from under the I-35 overpass. The next, like a movie star who’d just been dumped into a Third World brothel.
My feelings of unworthiness came from a few fellow customers who looked as if they had mistaken Joslin’s new Fort Worth nightclub for a catwalk. My feelings of superiority were born of a hooch selection that, IMHO, was less than stellar. The bar offered only two brands of champagne, Taittinger (excellent) and (gulp!) Korbel. Yes, that Korbel, “The Beer of Champagnes” that can be purchased in bulk at the nearest 7-Eleven for about seven bucks per two-ton crate.
The only indication that Bar Nine will do what’s right and be friend to both celebrity and Star magazine reader was the service. Maybe our snappy bartender had mistaken me and my entourage for the cast of One Tree Hill, Laguna Beach, and Nip/Tuck put together, but he sure did treat us as if we’d just walked off the set.
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