The 40/40 Club, the only sit-down restaurant at Barclays Center, opened last night for a private party hosted by co-owner Jay-Z, who—unlike any of his guests—arrived looking formally sharp in a tuxedo. A smattering of boldface names and assorted hangers-on were already boozing it up by the time the music mogul surfaced, assuring reporters that the arena is "a great thing for New York City." But outside the new venue, which officially debuts tonight with the first of many Jay-Z concerts, a group of protesters held a candlelit vigil to express their stubborn opposition.
"We're here because they did not come through with the affordable housing and the local jobs that were promised," one protester named Goldi told us. The Atlantic Yards project, which has received over $300 million in taxpayer money, was originally supposed to provide 2,250 units of affordable housing and over 10,000 jobs for locals. But only about 100 of a promised 1,500 jobs were created for local Brooklynites, and so far only the arena has been built. The first residential tower that someday goes up will have only nine units of housing affordable to Brooklyn families earning the borough's median income or less, according to Atlantic Yards' opponents.
Inside, of course, none of that existed, and the smattering of A-listers who strolled down the red carpet echoed ?uestlove's assessment that the opening of the 40/40 Club at Barclays Center was truly "exciting." The Roots drummer, who grew up in Philadelphia and currently resides in Manhattan, also said he was excited that "one of my favorite architects, Frank Gehry, designed the arena." In 2009, Gehry was replaced and had no role in the design of the arena as it exists now. (It's the work of ShoP Architects.) But whatever! The Ace of Spades champagne and the D’usse cognac cocktails were flowing, Rihanna was emaciated, and the DJ kept playing Jay's NY song over and over again.
The Barclays 40/40 Club is quite cavernous, and while SHoP Architects' design lingers in an underwhelming middle ground between sexy and sterile, the view of the arena is spectacular—although you will be basically behind the stage for Jay-Z should you be lucky enough to get into the club during one of his eight concerts. The highlight of the 9,000 square-foot restaurant is probably the custom-made amber resin bar top, which is illuminated from within by the glow of ALL THAT MONEY. The menu is standard upscale comfort food, which swells will enjoy from their excellent stadium-style seats overlooking the arena. Those spots will be sold first to season ticket holders and suite level ticket holders, and we're told the rest of the tables will be filled on a first come first serve basis. In other words, Brooklyn plebes can pretty much fuggeddaboutit.