The long-shuttered, decaying auditorium of the historic 1904 Liberty Theater, whose entrance was on West 42nd Street, but whose auditorium was on West 41st Street, has risen from the ash heap of bird droppings, infestation and a putrid basement lake to become the showpiece of Times Square Hospitality Group's Famous Dave's restaurant.

Ray Trosa of SIR Decor Designs spent four years rediscovering Liberty's history. He reinstalled original boxes that were salvageable and created concrete reproductions of those damaged beyond repair. The multi-million dollar rescue showcases the Liberty's eagle motifs and cathedral proscenium moldings. Enterting the restaurant, you'll find walls of history on the Liberty as theater and grind house.

The stagehouse, which Fred and Adele Astaire, George M. Cohan and Jeannette McDonald once graced and home to George M. Cohan's Little Johnny Jones and the Gershwins’ Oh, Kay!, is divided into two spaces: a state-of-the-art kitchen and, above it, a lounge with an outward view. The space, an already popular setting for opening night parties, holds up to 1,500.

Exec chef is Victor LaPlaca, formerly Todd English chef de cuisine and a driving force behind Olives. Mark Baker [Budda Bar, Lotus] will produce fashion and entertainment events.

Now, the long-shuttered Times Square is the remaining theater waiting for restoration. Good news: not for long. Though it's all hush-hush, a tenant deal's been signed and the space reopens in 2013.

[END]The Liberty Theater

Key Subjects: 
Liberty Theater, George M. Cohan, Times Square Hospitality Group, Ray Trosa.
Ellis Nassour
January 2012