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Contents under pressure at downtown club opening

by Brian Clarey

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Syn and Sky nightclubs sandwich Cinder restaurant in the building that formerly housed Much, Level 2 and Heaven. (courtesy photo)

Time is running short here on South Elm Street on the strip formerly known as the Medaloni District.

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Here is where Joey Medaloni built his final monument in downtown Greensboro: Much, the high-end bar and eatery with a style cribbed straight from South Beach, and Heaven, the city’s first rooftop nightclub.

But tonight, at 9 p.m., a new vision is superimposed atop the old place — Much becomes Syn, a modern nightclub emphasizing togetherness as opposed to vice; Heaven transmogrifies into Sky, with a slate of new events and hours; and the restaurant on the middle floor will now be known as Cinder, with a menu anchored by small plates and paella.

If, that is, they can get it together in time. At 8:46 p.m. there is still liquor and beer to stock, boxes to break down, garbage cans that need liners. There is food to prep after a late-running delivery finally filled the larders. There are stepladders everywhere, it seems, as workers in varying shades of black scurry to put last-minute touches in place, and for some reason there is a banana on the bar.

That’s not to say the place isn’t looking pretty good. The stone bar is polished and stocked, and the fountain that once fell from the second floor has been replaced with a stark white wall studded with white neon. The bathrooms have been blown out to more than twice their original size and the first floor seems less busy, more open.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, rehabbing the club that was supposed to be the last word in city nightlife, but a team of barroom veterans including Mike Carter and Mark Laducoeur formerly of Greene Street Club and Orlando Botero, Ashby Cook and Howard Dozier from Venue felt up to the challenge. Will Combs will share general manager duties with Carter, while the rest of the ownership team will pool what they know to make the club grow.

“Howard got the deal done and started to put together the team,” Laducoeur says. “We made some changes to the place, but we want it to grow organically,” “We opened for a while last night,” he adds, “and a lot of people came in. We were pleasantly surprised.”

Holding down the kitchen is Executive Chef Kyle Curtis, whose menu strays from the bar food so prevalent in the district these days towards small, simple and elegant, with cold and hot tapas, a list of gluten-free items and, as previously mentioned, paella, a two-person rice dish, good examples of which can be hard to come by in the Triad.

But man, they’ve got to get it together. At 8:58 I can sense the stress in the room as the hostesses hoist their cleavage and begin pouring Champagne on the bar top into stems as shapely and fluted as their legs, workers wipe the last of the sawdust and plaster crumbs off the surfaces, the velvet rope is brought up from downstairs.

And at 9:12 p.m. they gather by the bar gate, management and staff, to catch their breath and share a few last sentiments before the crowd flows in.

A pep talk. Some back-pats. A moment to acknowledge shared goals, shared sacrifice. Then, at 9:28 p.m., Laducoeur makes the call.

“Let’s uh… let’s open,” he says. And the big brass doors swing out, allowing the first flush of clubbers access to the newest joint in town.

Soon Champagne saturates the crowd of short skirts and open collars, music booms from a booth underneath the stairs. The party is on.

wanna go?

Cinder Tapas & Wine Lounge/ Syn & Sky 113 S. Elm St., Greensboro 336.420.4427; www.cinderlounge.com

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