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Christopher Zajac | Record-Journal
Chris Russo, left, the manager of the new Club Level, sits next to business partner Dave Orsini, in a VIP section at the Club Level on Colony Street in Meriden, Oct. 2, 2013. The club will have its grand opening on Oct. 5. | (Christopher Zajac / Record-Journal)

Effort to revive downtown Meriden night club begins

MERIDEN ­— Chris Russo has revived nightclubs all around the state — in Hartford, New Haven and Foxwoods Resorts Casino. Now the 34-year-old Russo will try to bring new life to a Colony Street nightclub with a mixed track record.

Known as Club Sinergee for close to a year, the building at 16 Colony St. has been renamed Level Night Club, and it opened Saturday night. It will feature top-40 dance music on Friday and Saturday nights in the latest attempt to bring some nightlife to downtown Meriden.

“We want to bring an atmosphere that Meriden has never seen,” Russo said.

The former bank building, operated under numerous names, was best known as The Vault in the 1990s. It had been closed most of the time in recent years before Michael Carusone opened Club Sinergee last year. He invested more than $400,000 in renovations, including an audio system, VIP areas and new furniture.

While the club had some success, Carusone admits he was inexperienced as a club manager and needed to reinvent the club.

Russo, who has managed a long list of nightclubs, brings experienced staff. The goal is to improve customer service and open up more of the three-level building, Carusone said.

In addition to Russo, business partner Dave Orsini was brought in to help with operations. Orsini ran clubs back in the 1970s and ’80s, he said, and he wants to see something succeed in downtown Meriden.

“What we’re trying to do is bring Meriden alive again,” Orsini said. “What we’re doing should help, along with the train station and (the Hub), but hopefully this leads to more at night in downtown.”

Orsini said the club’s management team convinced three local diners to stay open late to give club-goers a place to eat.

“I’m really glad to hear they’re working together,” said Aya Beckles Swanson, the city’s economic development associate. “People always say we need more restaurants and more at night, so this is great.”

Saturday night’s opening was expected to include four DJs, a woman performing with fire, prize giveaways, and other attractions. Downtown parking is free, Russo said, and parking lot attendants have been hired to help keep the area safe. On other nights, Russo and Orsini said, there will be different promotions and attractions. Thursday night will be a Latin night. The club can be rented for private functions on other nights.

dbrechlin@recordjournal.com 203-317-2266 Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ



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