New Hope supper club looks to Latin Casino for inspiration
JUST as the Prime Rib's Late Night Lounge jazz program was kicking off at the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel last fall, Robert Kotonly and Rory Paull opened their 130-seat boite, the RRazz Room, inside the Ramada Inn near New Hope. The room is half as deep as it is wide, with low ceilings and a stage along the far wall as you enter. It has an intimacy rare in headliner venues.
While lesser-known acts (including the Skivvies, who perform in their underwear, and various drag artists) have appeared there, there are also more familiar names: Broadway Drama Desk nominee singer/actress Lynnie Godfrey (Friday; pictured at right), comic Judy Tenuta (May 2), singer Clint Holmes (May 4), Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling (May 23-24) and singer-actress Lainie Kazan (June 27-28).
Kotonly and Paull, both 50, met while attending the University of Miami and opened their original RRazz Room in San Francisco, in 2005. Both East Coast natives (Kotonly is from North Jersey, Paull from Long Island), they decided to bring the concept back home.
Kotonly said his inspirations for the RRazz Room included Cherry Hill's legendary Latin Casino, one of the nation's premier nightclubs from 1960 to 1978 and a place he visited with his parents. "I saw acts like Totie Fields, Donna Summer and Teddy Pendergrass."
The Latin's something-for-everyone talent roster left an impression on the future impresario - hot comics and R&B acts as well as old-guarders like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Kotonly and Paull want to fill what they see as a gap in the region's live-entertainment scene "for a forgotten group of [people older than 35] . . . people who want to dress up a little bit, feel like they're special for the night and go out to someplace where they are treated accordingly," Kotonly said. "It's not standing-room here. You sit in a nice seat. You have the option of having a nice meal, a drink. And you're seeing headliner entertainment."
RRazz Room, Ramada Inn, 6426 Lower York Road (Route 202), New Hope, 888-596-1027, therrazzroom.com.
- Chuck Darrow