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WANNA DANCE?

Spend an Evening in Suede Surroundings

August 25, 1994|ROSE APODACA JONES | Rose Apodaca Jones is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition. and

Just when a club veteran in search of fresh entertainment is about to hang up her dancing shoes, a new dig opens that's velvety lush and swank, even if it is tucked into a strip mall in Orange along with a sushi bar and coffeehouse.

Credit for this latest club, restaurant and billiard hall, called Suede, goes to owners Andy Sharifi and Mehdi and Mandi Rafaty. As architects specializing in interior work, the Rafaty brothers are responsible for giving the place its urban feel.

The interior strives for that '90s post-industrial look, exposed ducts and all. But the use of iron is not just decorative. Other than the suede seat cushions (if they can be called "cushions," uncomfortable as they are), the bar stools are a metal experiment in modern primitive. Crude but ornately cut metal pieces jut out of the ceiling. But despite all this metal, Suede has an overall warmth as a result of the burnt-orange crisscross brushwork on the walls--suggesting a den covered in suede itself, especially as the night progresses and if you squint just right.

Introverts can head to the back living room area, partially partitioned off and filled with velvet sofas and chairs, candles and incense sticks. Sink in and relax, but try not to fall asleep.

Eight purple felt-topped billiard tables--said to be modeled after those of the 19th Century--dominate the rectangular space outside the living room. Hourly rates are $5 until 4 p.m. and $6 from 4 to 6 p.m. After 7 p.m., it's $8 Sunday through Thursday, $10 on Friday and Saturday. An hour of free pool garnishes any lunch order Thursday through Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.

A stage near the billiard tables showcases a mix of live bands and other performers. Mondays spotlight a blues or jazz combo; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are audition nights for amateur acts, who vie for a weekend bill. Country lovers can check out the club on Wednesday evenings.

Suede is trying out the talents of local club promoters on Saturday and Sunday nights. Dreamscape Productions turns Sunday into Spunday (most weeks, but call ahead), an 18-and-over gig. Saturday is a better bet with Chakra, hosted by Robert Frias and Danny Venegas (formerly of Roxbury and Metropolis). Deejay Dan-E controls the vibes of acid jazz, funk, techno and other assorted dance rhythms; a Tarot card and palm reader makes occasional appearances.

Hopefully, these promoters can bring Suede the attention and crowd it deserves. It has all of the ingredients, but this 8-month-old club--which is the kind of place that Orange County residents might normally travel to Hollywood for--still lacks a regular clientele.

With only beer and wine available (the bar won't be fully licensed for a year), the Suede folks had to get creative with their drink menu. Concoctions include a refreshingly fruity sangria, hold the brandy, for $2. A glass of wine is $3.50 to $4.50; by the bottle it's $10 to $14. As for beer, the selections are tantalizing. On tap, choices include Guinness, Bass and Kilian's Red. Imports are $3.25 a glass, $7 a pitcher; domestics cost $2.25 a glass and $5 a pitcher. For beers by the bottle, there are 35 to choose from, ranging from $2.50 to $4.50.

The food menu offers an even greater variety--appetizers, salads, sandwiches and more. The kitchen is open daily until 11 p.m., although it could probably do a load of business later in the night, when most patrons head off to local coffee shops.

* SUEDE

* 1988 N. Tustin Ave., Orange.

* (714) 974-2828.

* Open Monday through Wednesday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Sunday noon to 2 a.m.

* Cover: $3 to $5 Friday through Sunday; free other nights, except for special events.

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