It’s barely one month old, but Lenox Ave.’s newest restaurant is already on its second name. No matter what you call the place, its partners say they’re all about serving Harlem and working with their neighbors.
The restaurant, formerly known as Lenox Social on Lenox Ave. and W. 126th St., is now Corner Social.
The name change comes after an employee from historic Harlem jazz club Lenox Lounge visited the newly opened restaurant and informed the owners of a possible “trademark infringement.”
Owner Anahi Angelone, 31, said she decided on Lenox Social because “Lenox said Harlem without saying Harlem.”
Last week, the name on the facade was changed, the owner said, to avoid any conflict with Lenox Lounge, located just a block away on the same bustling avenue.
“It’s not about the name,” said Angelone, who lives a half-block away from her restaurant. “I didn’t want to start the business with bad energy. We don’t want trouble. We want to be okay with everyone in the neighborhood. That’s behind us.”
The restaurant opened quietly, on March 17, in an area already known for its cuisine.
Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster and soul food restaurant Sylvia’s are located across the street.
Lenox Lounge owner Al Reed told the Daily News he didn’t have a problem with the original name of the new restaurant, and said it was his manager who brought up the trademark concerns.
“That’s not my style. I didn’t even ask my lawyer about it. It don’t bother me at all,” said Reed, adding that he wasn’t aware of his manager’s actions.
The 72-year-old said he welcomed the new restaurant on Lenox Ave., which he recalled being one of the worst avenues in Harlem.
“I’m a Harlem person,” said Reed, who is facing tough times at his own business. “I remember when people came to Harlem for the nightlife. We need to get that vibe back.”
Reed is facing a rent hike and the prospect of closing his club, The News reported last month. His rent is being increased to $20,000 a month, and he can’t afford it.
Aside from the visit from the Lenox Lounge manager, Corner Social chef Jonathan Romans, 31, said he’s already met with chefs from both Sylvia’s and the Red Rooster who have welcomed them to the block.
They’ve even offered to share sugar and flour with one another in times of need, he said.
Romans, who lives in East Harlem, said they’re also working with the local community.
The bread comes from Hot Bread Kitchen, a nonprofit that’s located in the East Harlem marketplace La Marqueta. Some of their cakes come from Tonnie’s Minis, also on Lenox Ave., and they’re working with Harlem students who have started a garden where items will end up in the meals, Romans said.
In addition, 95% of their workers are from Harlem, said Angelone, who moved to Harlem two years ago.
Angelone said she opened her restaurant to fill what she saw as a need.
“I feel like there weren’t many places to just hang out.”
And since it’s opened, Corner Social has become just that.
Restaurant blogger B.J. Coleman, 31, who lives nearby, says it’s a welcome addition.
“It brings more energy uptown, and it’s in line with the crowd that’s living in the neighborhood,” he said. “I love it.”
But he didn’t love the new name.
“I hate the name change. I don’t think it works as well as Lenox Social. I don’t think there would have been any confusion.”