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Photo Credit: Dan Watkins

When Brian Lesser shuttered Saint after nine pulsating years at the Copley Square Hotel, it was more because of boredom than business. “I want to be on the edge of the industry,” he says. “It was time to refocus and give people something new.” He’s now launching Storyville, opening this month. “Maybe the name sounds a little gimmicky, but there’s an incredible amount of history here,” he continues. “Once you know the story, you understand and appreciate what we’re doing.”

Storyville pays homage to the famous jazz club launched in the same space by producer George Wein in 1950. That Storyville borrowed its name from the red light district in New Orleans and was a haven for legends like Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Billie Holiday (who recorded an album at the venue).

Lesser’s modern interpretation winks to that aesthetic with a fleur-de-lis motif, glossed black leather and shadowy corners appropriate for slipping out of any remaining Saint-hood. The space is divided into two separate entities: a crimson speakeasy-inspired bordello room, where chef Louis DiBiccari serves up twisted renditions of old-school favorites, and a larger main room, where partygoers will find a DJ and a more open floor plan. Beverage director William “English Bill” Codman, formerly of Woodward at Ames, has designed a menu for both sections, but will really flex his mixing muscles in the bordello with a focus on craft cocktails.

Musicians will tentatively play on Wednesday nights. “Who wouldn’t want to perform at a club that has hosted so many iconic names?” asks Lesser. For now, the plan is to build an after-work clientele, with an aim to transition them to the clubbier side of Storyville as the night progresses.

But why bring Storyville back now? Lesser credits the changing attitude in Boston nightlife. “Here you either rely on the college market or you try to emulate New York,” Lesser adds. “Why not do something that’s uniquely Boston? We need this.”

Storyville
90 Exeter St., Boston | 617-236-1134 | storyvilleboston.com