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Step into his Guyanese getaway

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The Guyanese native has been a resident of Ozone Park for more than 20 years, and said he not only expects his new business to be a success, but to set the bar to a new high for the West Indian establishments in the area. "In this community of southern Queens in general, there's no upscale lounge," Hitlall said. "My goal is to set a standard for this community."Avenue Lounge has already garnered a considerable amount of attention in its first few months of existence. The President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, cut the ribbon on the establishment at its grand opening Sept. 21 and several West Indian cultural icons such as Indian singing-phenom Kumar Sanu have dropped in for a visit. Hitlall said Avenue Lounge presents a new kind of leisure experience, one he said is unmatched in southern Queens. "When people come in here, they love it," he said. The decor at Avenue Lounge is sleek and elegant. Guests are greeted by a tranquil waterfall -which Hitlall said was inspired by Guyana's Kaieteur Falls - that doubles as an air purifier. The 1,000-pound saltwater aquariums hang suspended over a water-filled bubble bar. Original paintings loom large over the leather chairs and sofas that line the buildings floor.Hitlall said the comfort of his patrons is paramount."I want somebody to come in here, relax, have some good, fresh food and a good drink. You feel like you're at home, that's the idea," he said. The lounge has a full bar and a menu that features a range of American cuisine, from lamb chops to chicken to seafood dishes such as grilled tilapia. Hitlall said he stresses freshness with all of his food and drinks. "I try to keep the quality level very high here. We don't freeze anything, everything is fresh from our food to our drinks," he said. "If you're opening up a place like this and setting a standard, you've got to stick to it." Safety is also a chief concern with Avenue Lounge, which is why Hitlall said he employs one of the only armed security staffs in Queens. He said his security staff is well-trained, and in addition to insuring that the club does not attract any bad elements, his staff looks out for patrons, making sure a cab is called for them if they've had too much to drink. Avenue Lounge is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, the dress code requires that men wear elegant business attire such as a blazer and a buttondown shirt, while on Thursday and Sunday guests can attend in casual attire. For private party reservations or any other information, call 718-659-3773 or visit www.avenueloungeny.com.Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 162.

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