WASHINGTON'S revolving nightclub door swings open again Friday night as The River Club officially takes over the old confines of Charlie's of Georgetown.
Last year the former jazz club was gutted to make way for Leonard Horowitz's posh new look. The Florida designer has drawn heavily on Miami Beach's art deco architecture, probably most obvious in the dark gray marble bar and fountain. There's also a waterfall and plenty of etched glass to go nicely with Paul Stevens' hand-painted murals of swing-era scenes.
General manager Richard Schertzer describes the food as "East meets West: upscale American cuisine with an Asian flair." Schertzer, who works for Capitol Management and Development Corp. (which also operates Georgetown neighbors J. Paul's and Paolos) says River Club's accents come from the '20s and '30s: light swing music and big band tunes during dinner, followed by a disc jockey's jazzier tunes after 9 p.m. Small- portion entrees are $5 to $7, such larger dinners as Chicago steak or lobster go for the low $20s. Cocktails are expensive, ranging from $3.25 to $5. The River Club, open for dinner only for now, seats about 60 in the bar, 85 in the dining room. Valet parking is available at the club (3223 K Street NW; 3338118).
Meanwhile, local jazz fans said a final good night to Park Place Cafe several weeks ago because "it was losing money for a long time . . . until there was nothing left to lose," says owner Zina Greene.
During its six years, Park Place was a showcase for local jazz artists such as Keter Betts, Marshall Keys, Sharon Clark and Hilton Felton. It wasn't uncommon for teaching musicians to hold their students' recitals at the Connecticut Avenue restaurant. Greene says she'll never return to the restaurant business but hopes to program local jazz for other area clubs.
More bad news: Cates Restaurant and Cellar Pub in Old Town Alexandria will yield to the developer's wrecking ball this fall, after a scheduled September 6 closing. Redevelopment has been a possibility since Elliott Epstein and Ben Hiatt opened Cates in 1982. Hiatt says he expects Cates to move into D.C. and reopen in the Dupont Circle or West End area sometime next winter. Meanwhile, this weekend will be S.O.P. at Cates -- vocalist Chris Connor in the piano room through Sunday, and David Kirkpatrick in the pub downstairs Friday and Saturday nights. Call 549-4460.