Like a Phoenix, Nell's Rises Again

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Ashley Merriman may be commanding the burners at the resurrected Nell's

Mum's been the word on the new Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano (1Oak, Butter) project moving into the legendary Nell's space on the fringe of MePa, but in this age of hyper-connectivity, tantalizing tidbits have begun to sketch a portrait of a new supper club and dance den that might have a couple of star chefs in the kitchen.

Here's what is known so far:

In July 2009, Butter chef and Food Network personality Alexandra Guarnaschelli spoke to CB2 on behalf of the 14th Street project, leading to the logical conclusion that she would somehow be involved.

And Ashley Merriman, a contestant on season six of Top Chef, may be her right-hand woman. Last October, Merriman revealed to Endless Simmer that she was "working with Alex Guarnaschelli on a new restaurant" in New York, a fact that's confirmed on her personal website. Given the timing, this project is the frontrunner for where the recent New York transplant has landed.

Before Plumm closed in April 2009, nightlife impresario Steven Lewis blogged about his discussion with Plumm's principal, Noel Ashman, about transforming the unused basement into a downstairs club space -- a vision that's now being realized, Lewis confirmed by email.

"The Nell's space, which is a restaurant upstairs and a club downstairs, will open before summer," he wrote.

His design firm, Lewis & Dizon, is managing the project, and while Lewis declined to offer any specific details, he did reveal that it's going to be "a modernization of the supper club."

"I was inspired by all the good times I had at Nell's, one of the Top 10 clubs of all time," Lewis wrote. "My partner Marc Dizon and I strived to remember the club's greatness while finding a new, modern identity. I believe we have realized this and can't wait to see it open."

Mr. Lewis, neither can we.

246 W. 14th St., near 8th Ave., no phone yet


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