The Cutting Room
On 24th street for ten years before moving to 32nd in 2013, the Cutting Room caught my attention before I even entered. I spotted a guitar in the window decorated with kaleidoscopic colors, and soon learned that famed artist Mark Kostabi had created it. Once indoors, I was immediately drawn in by the eighteen hanging guitars that serve as a massive chandelier. Someone had an incredible vision and was able to take what the owner, Steve Walter, described as a “white box” of a carpet store and turn it into an over-the-top venue for appreciating music. One of the two partners behind this fantastic place is Chris Noth, known for his roles as “Big” on Sex and the City and Peter Florrick in The Good Wife. He felt that Manhattan was missing the same connection and deep passion for live music that he had growing up, and he and Steve wanted to bring this back to our city. Steve is also devoted to music—growing up on the Jersey Shore, he played guitar in a band, graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and had the original vision of a 1940s supper club that is now pulsing on 32nd.
The stunning forty-six foot mahogany wood bar is gigantic, evoking the image of a Stratocaster – a Fender guitar model – wrapping itself around one whole side of the room. They built a grand staircase in the center, where there is a gallery with Kathrina Miccio’s paintings of iconic musicians. I took the challenge and attempted to name as many as I could, from Billie Holiday to Billy Joel and BB King, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Keith Richards, Steven Tyler and Jimmy Page in the middle. Continuing my walk around the staircase, I found a collection of photographs with fascinating shots of Paul, John, George and Ringo done by Lennon’s former girlfriend, May Pang.
The Cutting Room offers an eclectic mix of performers, and on any given night there may be several shows going on—sometimes jazz and rock, and sometimes even classical music. Mondays are usually devoted to Broadway, where theater stars drop in to perform. Hearing Steve rattle off the long list of musicians, spanning decades, who have performed in both the former space and the current one was like listening to a who’s who in the music hall of fame: Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Sting, Adam Levine, and not too long ago, ninety-four year old Pete Seeger. How I wish I had known about that event. From the industry’s top musicians to the up-and-comers, every night is an exhilarating experience that includes fresh American fare, a bottle of wine and a good crowd of people.