On Saturday, after posing for photos with nearly a dozen fans on Park Avenue South, Evan Mock — the 24-year-old actor who stars in the “Gossip Girl” reboot — walked through the small arched doorway of a Gramercy chapel that many passersby could easily ignore.
Mock didn’t come to attend a weekend church service. Instead, he was joining co-stars Thomas Doherty and Eli Brown for a private party at the most exclusive new bar in New York City. Tucked in between the New York branch of Swedish photography museum Fotografiska and a 19th-century Episcopal church, Chapel Bar — which briefly opened as a speakeasy under different management — is now a members-only hideaway for the artsy set.
“It’s nice to be intimate and have drinks with people who you want to have drinks with,” Mock told The Post, standing beneath a nave adorned with a crystal chandelier and arrangements of hydrangeas. “People pay for Soho House — why wouldn’t they pay for a cool bar to go to?”
Chapel Bar is small — just 900 square feet — compared to other high-profile saloons, but it already has an outsize reputation. The Roman and Williams-designed haunt hosted an after-party for LVMH Prize-nominated fashion designer Peter Do’s spring/summer 2022 New York Fashion Week debut last week — and Vogue is set to throw a post-Met Gala bash on Thursday.
Not bad for a place that isn’t officially open until Sept. 22.
Co-owner Josh Wyatt, who’s also the CEO of Fotografiska and the private work/social space NeueHouse, believes that New Yorkers are looking for more exclusivity in these socially challenged times.
“I think that is a trend as people navigate through the pandemic: People want to know that the company, or the venue that they’re going to spend their time in, is being curated by a community that is dedicated to whatever they stand for,” said the 47-year-old. “In this case, it’s arts, culture and photography.”
There are three levels of membership, via Fotografiska New York, to access Chapel Bar. Both the “Collector,” a $200-a-year option and the “Familj” membership — for $449 per year — include once-monthly access to Chapel Bar. (The latter includes more perks when it comes to visiting Fotografiska.)
And then there’s Fotografiska’s “Patron” membership, which costs $2,000 per year and means you can visit Chapel Bar whenever you like. Prospective members need to apply — though members of NeueHouse, which caters to a creative-minded crowd, are welcome into Chapel Bar anytime.
Wyatt is looking for members who are “culturally curious and passionate about art … People who are pushing culture forward in their personal and professional lives, that for us is the archetypal member. If you tick those boxes, there is an extremely good chance of being admitted.”
Guests at the “Gossip Girl” soirée said the once-sacred location — including the former confessional booth, now a cozy area for a tête-à-tête — was a draw.
“From the outside, it’s very unassuming,” said Abi Balingit, 26. “It’s very alluring and … you kind of feel more special in a church setting.”
As for the cost, “You can save up the money if you wanted to. It’s upscale, but not so far out of reach that it’s unattainable,” said 24-year-old Benjamin Delozier, standing near works by photographer Miles Aldridge. “This seems like you’re learning about art … [and] interacting with like-minded people.”
For Wyatt, that’s the aim.
“We started to think about [Chapel Bar] about a year ago and say, ‘Look, we have this incredible opportunity to create community … and to bring it back almost old-school in terms of how bars were run 30, 40 years ago — when it was about the people inside of really interesting spaces [for] discussions and learning,” he said.
And while he also envisions it as a venue for private parties tied to Frieze Art Fair or future Met Galas, big-named guests won’t be the sole focus.
“There’s celebrity for being the sake of celebrity — that is not who we are,” said Wyatt. “There’s the creators and the culturati who are amazing high-performance creative individuals … we love those types of people.”
Saturday guest Roman Rakovsky, who described himself as a “lifetime nighttime socialite,” said the pandemic made him gravitate to intimate spaces rather than crowded, mega-sized nightclubs.
“That’s the big change in nightlife,” he said. “That’s the future.”
275 Park Ave. South; contact Patron.NY@fotografiska.com for membership