Movin’ On Up
(The prominent Boxers HK awning on the corner of Ninth Ave and 50th Street)
Good news in the seemingly endless saga that is the Boxers outpost in Hell’s Kitchen: they’ll be open in time for New Year’s Eve! The guys actually plan on swinging the doors open as soon as possible, but tonight Boxers co-owners Rob Hynds and Bob Fluet are throwing a grand opening party for the ages. In the meantime, they’ll be getting everything shipshape and ready to open. “Honestly, it’s happening so fast that we haven’t made any major plans. We just really want to get the door open and let people know that we’re open,” admits Fluet. “[We’ll have a] free champagne toast like always, drink specials. We’ll have a DJ. Barbra Streisand will drop by at 1am,” Hynds jokes. (When prodded about whether Kathy Griffin, who’s been spotted at Boxers in Chelsea several times, might make an appearance, they say that if she’s in town she should stop in.)
The uptown Boxers location has been a long time coming. Three years ago Hynds and Fluet opened Boxers on 20th Street, and immediately had plans to expand. “We’ve had every intention from day one to do multiple locations,” Hynds explains. Fluet adds, “Even before we opened here, like Robby said, our intention was to go outside the city, but we feel that Manhattan itself can handle a secondary location.” As was widely publicized last summer, their search proved more difficult than they anticipated. “To find anything with an outside space is almost impossible in itself, and then to find something with volume inside and the ability to have different venues is unheard of,” Hynds says of their strict criteria for a space. Originally, they had hoped to set up shop in a former Italian restaurant on the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and 50th Street. When that deal fell through, they began looking at a 10th Avenue location. “The landlord [from the first location] came back and said, ‘Let’s cut a deal.’ We said no, because we were looking at the new [10th Avenue] spot,” Hynds explains.
After losing approval for the proposed 10th Avenue location things took a turn for the better. “It turned out that the lease holder at the spot we got, 742 Ninth [Avenue], went into bankruptcy court.” So the pair put just about every penny they had together and bought the space a little over two months ago. They’ve been frantically turning the former Italian resto into Boxers HK ever since.
(The bar, still under construction, earlier this month.)
The high-traffic, super-visible space will have all of the Boxers favorites that guys have come to expect at the original Chelsea bar—plenty of room, beer, sports, pool tables—as well as a 1,500 square-foot rooftop deck and a club-like basement space appropriately called The Dog Pound. (“Sometimes you just need a good pounding!” jokes operations manager Ray Geerlof.) If you’re not a smoker, you’ll still be able to enjoy Boxers’ new outdoor space—the smoking section will only be about a 10th of the overall roof . To start, they won’t be serving any food, but eventually the guys will have a limited menu, including weekend brunch—and waiter service—on the roof deck.
Never ones to slow down, Fluet and Hynds are currently scouting locations for Boxers in Washington, DC and Boston. “I think those are both great markets in dire need of a great place like Boxers to hang out,” Hynds says. Reflecting on the soon-to-open Hell’s Kitchen locale, Hynds is happy with the overall outcome. “Though the process has been a long one, we’re really glad for the way it’s turned out. It’s been a long couple years, but we’re here.” Now there’s only one thing left to do: party!
Boxers HK Grand Opening, Boxers HK, 742 Ninth Ave (@ 50th St), Dec 31 at 9pm; free. Visit boxersnyc.com for more info.