As a supper club, the Oak Room is vital to the Algonquin Hotel, New York City, and the American popular song.
It is an iconic New York destination, crucial to the singular and beloved character of the Algonquin, and cannot be replaced by a breakfast nook or a VIP lounge. Closing it deprives New York of one of only three premier venues -- and its most historic and intimate room -- for the American popular song.
The history of the Oak Room at the Algonquin began in 1939, when it opened as a nightclub. It went dark during World War II, but reopened in 1980. For over three decades, the Oak Room has been home to many of the world's finest musical artists. It launched the careers of Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr., Jamie Cullum, and Michael Feinstein, and, just last season, Emily Bergl. It continued to present legends such as Jack Jones, Britain's first lady of jazz Claire Martin, jazz pianist Barbara Carroll, Julie Wilson, Jimmy Webb, and Academy Award-nominated composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. The greatest musicians and interpreters of song, such as jazz's Bill Charlap, Tierney Sutton, Paula West, and Kurt Elling, and cabaret's Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Akers, Steve Ross, KT Sullivan, Wesla Whitfield and Maude Maggart, among many others, have performed there.
As a result, the Oak Room attracted patrons like Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett, Clive Davis, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Sondheim, Paul McCartney, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, and Elvis Costello, and all other lovers of good music. Reserving the Oak Room as a VIP lounge for breakfast and tea -- as the hotel intends -- is fine, but doesn't need to preclude its use as a cabaret and jazz room in the evening. The closing is not only breaking the hearts of those legions of New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world who have loved the Algonquin and the Oak Room beyond all other hotels and clubs, it ignores the basic principle of branding—unique selling proposition. The Oak Room and its performers generate publicity, prestige, and good will for the hotel. The Round Table is gone. Matilda, the Algonquin Cat, no longer freely roams the lobby. The Oak Room is the last still-breathing vestige of the Algonquin's century-long storied history.
Please don't shoot New York in the heart, and yourselves in the foot.
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