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Having vain thoughts
Vanity brings upscale nightlife to downtown New Haven
Owner John Mocadlo said he noticed the empty space, previously occupied by the Russian Lady restaurant and bar, after getting ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s. Within months, Mocadlo and his partners began investing in their vision to establish a revolutionary venue unlike any other in Connecticut.
“There’s no other place in Connecticut besides the casino that you can dress up, go out to dinner and enjoy a night of entertainment with a top DJ and bar,” Mocadlo said. “The nightclubs that people primarily go to are literally two speakers set up in the corner and it’s not really much of an experience.”
Mocadlo and his partners invested roughly $1 million into the 15,000 square-foot space before the Vanity Restaurant & Nightclub opened this past August. The new additions from the renovations are visually stunning and will leave you in awe from the moment you step inside the luxurious venue. Besides attracting a large clientele of party-goers in it’s massive entertainment space, Vanity has become known for its fine-dining options for dinner.
Executive Chef Andrew Fine has certainly made a name for himself amongst food-lovers as he has prepared dishes in an unconventional way that isn’t native to New Haven.
“We wanted to bring affordable fine-dining to the downtown area where people can enjoy something that’s unique as opposed to a lot of very simple things,” Mocadlo said. “What Chef Fine does is he’ll take something that you’re used to eating and prepare it and place it in a way you’ve never seen it before.”
Mocadlo says the most popular entree is the Salt Slab New Yorker, a New York strip steak on a salt slab which is blow-torched with sugar on top, leaving customers with a salty and sugary taste in every bite. The Vanity Restaurant & Nightclub welcomes anyone, including families with kids, and generally see’s an influx of people coming for the night life around 10 p.m.
The busy nights generally occur Thursday through Saturday as the venue has created quite the buzz amongst local colleges. Although BAR and Brother Jimmy’s are right around the corner from Vanity, Mocadlo says he isn’t concerned about losing any business.
“BAR and Brother Jimmy’s are fantastic businesses, but they’re essentially just brick walls with alcohol,” Mocadlo says. “We have the same thing but with a massive sound and lighting system and the vibe at Vanity is like nothing else in the state of Connecticut. You’re getting so much more luxury and accommodating factors here and really get to enjoy a piece of New York or Las Vegas for the same price you would get for anything else in the market.”
“I really like the atmosphere,” Carey said. “It’s got a classy feel, but it’s also got a good dance floor and DJ’s and an overall great vibe to it.”
Carey had been waiting with three other friends, all of which had previously been to Vanity for several occasions. The four agreed they go to have fun with the boys to drink, dance and meet new people. Despite being dressed appropriately, Carey and his friends were unaware of the Vanity dress code, prohibiting any athletic wear, baggy clothing, sneakers, hats, shorts, etc.
Ashley Mennillo, a senior at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), was with her friend Lexi Sobireski, a senior at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and bartender at Brother Jimmy’s. The two said it was only their second time at Vanity and their friend, DJ Arian, was performing that night. Both Mennillo and Sobireski said they had been to every spot in New Haven and agreed Vanity is unlike any other venue.
“What makes Vanity different is the dress code,” Sobireski said. “It sounds corny, but having to dress up makes for a better vibe inside than any other place.”
Vanity sees about three thousand people on Thursdays and Saturdays as the staff is often unable to let people in when the space is at full capacity. Like most high-end nightclubs, Vanity has a cover charge, but is reasonably priced as the cost on Thursday nights is five dollars after 11:00 pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, the cover is $20 for an event and $10 normally, but is half the price with a college ID.
John Mocadlo’s vision to build a venue that provides the New Haven area with the ultimate restaurant, nightclub and event experience has come true as waves of people have flocked to the venue since it opened in August. Mocadlo says he already has plans to potentially expand to the West Hartford market as customers are capitalizing on the space, leaving the venue amazed by the unique experience.
“People like to feel important and waited on by a server and they’ll enjoy that experience with us,” Mocadlo said. “The renovations had to be perfect and I feel it came out as close to perfect for what we had to work with both budget and venue wise. The partners and I have plans to consistently keep upgrading it so that every year it will be a new experience for everybody.”