Tao Team Opens Arlington Club, Hotel Chantelle is Starting Rumors…

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Typically, the period between Labor Day and Halloween is slow in the club world. People are paying down credit card debt accumulated in a summer of WHEEE! Things like the Jewish holidays, flu season, back-to-school, and a dearth of tourists add to the red ink. The change of weather and the loss of daylight as we wind down to the Winter Solstice near Christmas are all negative factors. The season theoretically begins in earnest on Halloween. Sandy literally put a damp on those concepts, but building for an inevitable future is happening all around.

On a small renovation job, an electrician told me that getting even the most commonplace electrical supplies is becoming problematic as the post-Sandy rebuild is taking everything. I can only imagine what getting permits and inspections will be like from an over-tasked buildings department. Still, I hear of a Frank Roberts’ "mostly-a-restaurant project down in lower Little Italy.” I hear of a redux of GoldBar. Marquee nightclub, for a decade the "in" spot for the going-out crowd, is in renovations that will bring it up to speed with its Las Vegas incarnation.

Meanwhile, that Tao team is inviting peeps to the Thursday opening of their Arlington Club on Lexington between 73 and 74th Street.  St. Jerome’s has, of course, been sold to The Bowery Electric crew. That has left the St. Jerome’s "crowd" looking for a new home, and Hotel Chantelle grabbing for that gusto. Chantelle started its weekly Tuesday  “Rumors” party last night, going forward with famously ex-ex-St. Jerome’s honcho DJ Luc Carl joining DJ Ian El Dorado.

There’s all sorts of things happening over at Bantam where absolutely nothing to speak of has been happening. A re-thinking is occurring. Construction at EVR on 39th street between 5th and 6th is almost over – or is that ovr? I was there the other day checking out the progress and was very impressed.

On a final note: Friday I will be DJing the late set over at The Hanky Panky Club, up the side entrance of Webster Hall. It is a Sandy-related benefit called “Rock-N-Rebuild.” Acts/bands like Hits, Roma, Wild Yaks, The Netherlands, Outernational, and Kendra Morris will interrupt sets by Djs iDeath, Gavin Russom and, thankfully, Steve Lewis er …me. This shindig starts at 8pm. It’s hosted by man-about-town Terry Casey and the lovely Flutura Bardhi. Please help where you can. While people are ordering $1000 bottles of booze, many are still without basic necessities.

Dual Groupe Split Up – Day & Night Goes On

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I hear it all the time. Nightlife people say, “It’s all about relationships,” almost as often as they say, “It’s all about service.” But “relationships” is a broad term. It’s relationships with customers, staff, celebrities, P.R. firms, promotional entities, cops, robbers and relationships with lots of broads, models and other beauties. In an era where night life spaces—faced with increasing overhead— are open on more nights, and often days, it is important to have partners you can depend on. The modern nightlife entity must expand or franchise it’s brand elsewhere, like another space or city or even country. It is increasingly important to partner with like minded individuals. The successful groups like Tao, Strategic, Butter, The OneGroup, and Emm have multiple players with a common purpose.

A minute back I congratulated Dual Groupe partners Daniel and Derek Koch for their continued success and the seasonal opening of Day & Night. But I got a note from them saying they were no longer involved with Day & Night or Dual Group—they are working on something new. But as they say in showbiz “the show must go on,” and so it does. For me, the brand Dual Groupe referred to Daniel and Derek, the twin brothers, the two or duo. I got confused and I got in touch with Michael Weinstein, a Dual Groupe partner, to find out how this happened and what will happen now. Lawyers are way deep in this, so answers were expectedly guarded.

I myself was confused by the “tiff.” I assumed that Dual Groupe referred to the two, the duo that are the Koch twins. Has the public been confused? Does the public care?  
Dual Groupe started as a collaboration with Derek & Daniel, but the Day & Night brand has continued to grow without their input. The public is only interested in a quality experience, they know that they will continue to enjoy the best brunch party out there. We not only have an amazing venue in Highline Ballroom, but continue to present the biggest DJ’s and the highest energy team.

The Highline Ballroom brunch is a hit. People are going, spending money, having fun but eventually, Derek and Daniel will start a rival brunch. How will this affect you?  
We aren’t concerned. We just celebrated our 5th anniversary and the crowds consistently prove to be non-plussed by any outside noise. They are only interested in the product, not by drama. Our task is to provide that experience. Our partners at the Highline Ballroom have really turned up the offering with an amazing new sound and light system. There is nothing like it in the city. We are also looking forward to taking the show on the road; we have some exciting plans for Art Basel Miami Beach at the Ritz Carlton, St Barths for the holidays, and the Sundance Film Festival.

I’m sure that Derek and Daniel will come up with something creative, it just won’t be Day & Night.

Can you talk to the reasons why the Groupe broke up? 
Without getting into specifics because of pending litigation, I will say that there were differences of opinions as to the direction of what we do. It’s no different than any business arrangement. Sometimes people don’t agree, but how they react that makes all the difference. Sometimes things are said and done that change relationships irrevocably.

How has brunch changed nightlife?   
We truly have created a new category that many have tried to duplicate throughout the country. Restaurants from NYC to Miami to LA all offer an alternative to what we do, but none come close to what we offer. We are the archetype for this category.

Who are the faces now of Dual Groupe and what are their backgrounds?  
We have a great team. My partner Andreas Huber and I have partnered with Tsion Bensusan at Highline Ballroom. Our hosts for the brunch are Phillipe Bondon and Olivier Lubrano, both of whom have a wealth of hospitality experience. They couldn’t be more debonair or charming.

Best Place in Town: The New TAO

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If you had asked me two weeks ago what the best place in town was, I’d have hedged, hogged, huffed, and puffed to avoid a direct answer saying something like—”depends on who you are.” To a much lesser degree, that statement is still true. If you are a ripped jean rocker who works at a paint store there are other places . The best place in town, for the majority of those who go out, is TAO, Downtown. I attended it’s opening the other night and was floored by it’s beauty and intelligence. Jason Strauss a TAO/ Strategic Group partner and old friend greeted me at the door; he reminded me to see this and that and not to miss the side room or the stairs and a mouthful of etceteras. I promised I wouldn’t, but I’m sure I missed some things, as there was so much to see. David Rockwell designed it and  I was told he was very hands on. 

It is stunning. The requisite Buddha was brilliantly done with projections of flocking birds over it and the brick walls haunting Asian-themed murals by a London based street artist. The layout was grand, the flow easy. The club room, which people were calling the "Nur" room based on it’s future player, was wonderful. Russell Simmons was outside waiting for someone—I asked if he was really doing the door. He wasn’t, but the scene was that amazing—the crowd beyond fabulous, beyond dressed. Everyone knew that this was the future. The mega-club is now replaced with the mega restaurant as the formers patrons have grown up. The place will sit a zillion people. The place will party like it’s 1999, and maybe 2099. The place has unlimited potential. 
 
Noah (Tepperberg) was proud of this "culmination" from the "combination"and only a little  miffed by the little things that weren’t completed by opening. I told him only a few Industry types would notice. The rest were celebrity gazing or model grazing or mogul envying. The crowd almost stole the show. Samantha Ronson held court in her DJ Booth. I said hello. I worshipped at the altar of Susanne Bartsch. I basked by the glow of Mark Packer, who along with Rich Wolf and Noah and Jason and the A team, have assembled  a beautiful behemoth of a space. Great things will happen here. Opening night was a good start.
 
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This Week’s NY Happenings: Bowery Poetry Relaunches, Sweet: New York, Tørst Opens

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FRIDAY: Bowery Poetry Relaunches With Duane Park Burlesque
If poetry is to survive in the big town, it may need to flash a little leg. Bowery Poetry at 308 Bowery relaunches this week with a new partner: Duane Park, the former Tara of Tribeca. Duane brings its Southern comfort and renowned burlesque shows over to the East Village club, and. it all starts this Friday night;  The Plume Revue reclaims their Friday night slot with Peekaboo Pointe and Medianoche among the dancers, and a tight jazz band on the tunes.

Bowery Poetry (308 Bowery, East Village) relaunches Friday the 8th with Duane Park burlesque. The Plume Revue begins at 10pm. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Eat John Doe
Eat well, drink well, and do well at The Doe Fund’s annual Sweet: New York benefit to help break the cycle of homelessness. Top talent from the likes of Tao, Lavo, and BLT Prime will hook you up with both savory and sweet bites inside the Classic Car Club Soho.

Sweet: New York at the Classic Car Club Soho (250 Hudson St., Soho) starts at 7pm Thursday the 7th. Main event tickets are $75. To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Quenching Tørst
An avant-garde trio of chef, brewer, and importer join forces on the ultimate beer bar. At Tørst, you can down bespoke brews by luminaries like Jean Van Roy of Cantillon Brewery inside a modern, minimal space. A stealth Scandi restaurant in back will follow later in the year.

Tørst (615 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint) opens Friday the 8th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

Witnessing Arlington Club’s Laurent Tourondel & Paul Goldstein Respond To NYT Review

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While the steakhouse remains a particularly American concept, nothing’s more enjoyable than the sound of a Frenchman saying “piece of boeuf.” And though the pairing of chef Laurent Tourondel’s steakhouse variation with a punch of TAO Group atmosphere is less than conventional, it seems more than a good idea. Arlington Club, which opened last fall, has already made itself necessary; it’s a fine-dining spot on the Upper East Side with the energy to push past a nine o’clock bedtime.

The high-ceilinged, vaguely steampunky dining room lends itself to a party more than Maloney & Porcelli’s equestrian portrait hall, but conversation dictates the volume; there’s no Rihanna-fueled dancing on tables a-la sister properties TAO and Lavo. But the front bar is buzzing enough to have a waiting list of its own, and greeting one’s neighboring table is common practice.

The menu, which still features a 28-day dry-aged New York Strip and filet, has a pretty loose adherence to steakhouse orthodoxy. The two cuts that come most recommended—a cote du boeuf (for two) and an American Wagyu skirt steak—are abutted by seven available sauces. The macaroni and cheese comes as a ramekin of rigatoni noodles, stood on end like soldiers and crusted on top (with a crème brule torch?). The meal starts with a bowl of hot popovers, cheese-crusted on top, and just-baked on the inside. Old-school touches, like Brooklyn-gassed seltzer bottles and halved pickles, trade off with more novel steakhouse offerings. For example, they’re doing brunch.

But so far, the only sticking point has been the presence of sushi in the top corner of the menu (the main roll is an Osaka-style spicy tuna with Sriracha). But as critics scrunch their noses, the chef contends they’ve barely kept up with the demand from guests. That’s not to say the reviews don’t matter—Tourondel’s BLT restaurants and LT Burger have garnered him an esteemed reputation among critics over the years.

And when I sat down with Tourondel and TAO Group partner Paul Goldstein last week, their publicists were compulsively tapping their phones to refresh the New York Times Dining page. Halfway through this interview, Pete Wells’ piece went up. Wait for it.

You started cooking in the French Navy, but did they train you as an infantryman?
Laurent Tourondel: Yeah, I’m a sniper.

Really?
LT: No, I’m joking. But I was in France—I was in a hotel, actually. They put me at the private hotel of the Admiral. So we were, like, fifteen [of us] inside the private hotel of the Admiral, clueless about the Army, clueless about the Navy. And one day we receive a phone call from the base. And they say someone’s going to attack the Admiral’s house, and it’s going to be an aircraft carrier from America. So the Marines, they attack the house. And in something like three minutes and fifty seconds, they tied me up, tied the guy up. And we were like, what are you guys doing? We’re not here to do war! But it was an exercise. Someone had told us there was going to be an exercise, but we didn’t know when, it was very vague.

Is the steakhouse a uniquely American thing?
LT: Definitely, I don’t think there is any other meat-specializing restaurant around the world.

Then what drew you to steak and burgers?
LT: Well, it was not really French cooking, so for me it was something different to explore. I like learning different things so, you know, it was a big challenge for me to make it successful. You know, I’m a big fan of this meat—the American beef.

Do you have strong opinions about which cuts you like and which ones you don’t?
LT: Very much so. If you come to eat and you ask me, I’ll tell you, I dis-recommend a porterhouse. I will recommend you a skirt steak, I will recommend you a good New York steak because here, we actually have an amazing New York steak. It’s prime, top quality beef.

There are a handful of steak sauces on the menu. Is that something that gets the thumbs-up?
LT: Yeah, I think it’s good to give people options. It’s part of the sharing process at the table, and sharing is what we oriented this restaurant around. It’s very much about the center of the table—everybody shares.

Is Arlington Club looking to build an atmosphere similar to Lavo and Tao?
Paul Goldstein: It’s a bit toned down. We go into every one of our properties with a vision, but we also just go with it. Lavo wasn’t meant to be this dancing-on-tables-and-chairs party atmosphere, but it just kind of played out like that, and it worked. And we thought Arlington Club was going to be a little bit more fine dining than any of our other restaurants, and it is. But we’re getting a fun crowd, which is creating a little bit of a buzz. You know, at a point we thought it would be fine dining, and now it’s just more fun dining. We get that earlier crowd that likes that fine dining, and then 7:30pm, 8pm, it turns into the Upper East Side who’s who.

How have you managed to be successful at bringing in crowds late at night in this neighborhood?
PG: We create a buzz. It’s turned into a little bit of a destination spot for the downtown crowd.

So people are coming up?
PG: Some people are coming up—I think it’s more of the downtown crowd that lives uptown, that doesn’t want to go downtown. I heard a story about Blue Ribbon—when they started Blue Ribbon, it was dead. And they were like, we got to push it, we got to stay with it, we want to be that late-night spot. And two, three years into it, the chefs started coming, people started hearing about it being a late-night spot, and it’s now obviously what it is today, packed ’til four, five o’clock in the morning every single night. And that’s kind of something that we always think about. If we keep on pushing it, and keep on pushing it, we’ll eventually be able to get that crowd.

Is it difficult to get through that three-year period before you wind up where you really want to be? Is there the threat of things shutting down before you get there?
PG: Fortunately, you know, we’re there. I don’t want to be, um . . . I just think that we have a decent reputation for creating a bar scene, creating a little bit of a vibe. And we’re getting it. Guests like coming in later.

LT:It’s amazing to me because I had a restaurant on 77th street, and we used to do early seatings. But last night, it was like ten o’clock, and we had, I don’t know, seventy people that just sat down. It was crazy, you know?

And that’s not something you’ve experienced before?
LT: Not in this neighborhood, no.

PG: (to his publicist) Did it come out?

Publicist: We’re being told that, yes.

PG: And?

Publicist: Opening it. 2 stars.

(A moment later, applause erupted from the kitchen. Pete Wells gave the restaurant a great review overall, pointing to the sushi as the one awkward mistake, and diagnosing an “identity crisis” based on the deviations from standard steakhouse food and atmosphere).

PG: He loves that. The whole “identity crisis” thing.

Well, what was the inspiration for combining sushi with a more traditional steakhouse menu?
LT: You know, I think what we wanted to do was provide a different kind of appetizer. So instead of, you know, the typical crab cake you have on every steakhouse menu. We still have it here, but we modernize it a little bit.

At this point in your career, do you still get nervous and excited about reviews?
LT: It’s funny, I didn’t think about it today until [our publicists] came, like an hour ago. I’ve been rated probably eight times, ten times, I don’t know. Three times I’ve gotten a three star, bunch of times two stars. We have to pay attention to it because our clientele around here is very much the Upper East Side, and they read the New York Times everyday.

PG:This will help where we need help. This will help the five o’clock seating. Restaurants in New York, they’re busy from seven-thirty to nine. That doesn’t impress us. To be busy at five-thirty? That’s impressive. To be busy at eleven-thirty? That’s impressive. And the crowd up here, they go to good restaurants, and they go at five-thirty. And two stars—that’s a great restaurant. I know it’s two out of four, and some people would say it’s fifty percent, or whatever, but two stars for the style of service we have is top-notch.

What does the vibe become at 11 o’clock at night?
PG:A lot of chatter, a lot of talking. This table getting and up and saying hi to that table, tables combining. We never raise the volume of the music higher than the noise of the guests speaking. Whereas in our other restaurants, as the volume of the guests’ speaking raises, we raise the volume of the music to kind of, you know, add fuel to the fire. Whereas here, as the volume of the guests go up, we actually lower the music and let that be the atmosphere.

I don’t often think of steakhouses as being brunch restaurants, but you guys have it.
LT: It’s a good point. But besides being a steakhouse, we’re also a neighborhood restaurant. And I don’t think there’s much going on around these couple blocks at the time of brunch, so we could be really busy, doing maybe a late brunch, with some great drinks. Maybe more family oriented, you know, on Sunday.

PG: The partnership that we have, although it’s the first, I think it’s really worked out. It’s taught me a lot. He deals with the back of the house, and they let us do what we do at the front of the house.

Opening Across NYC: Four Steakhouses

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It’s not exactly rigorous science, but the launching of new steakhouses must say something positive about the state of the economy. The beneficiaries are outside of downtown, in the natural habitats of expense accounts and the people who fund them. On Friday, the Arlington Club will make a big splash on a Lexington Avenue corner. The space has housed UES demographics as reliable as a Republican club and a skating rink, and this clubby steak palace fits right in with the pedigree. Arched ceilings and skylights make for dramatic overheads. Earth-toned accents and vintage black and whites amplify the “club” in the name. Fusion pros Tao have joined forces with Laurent Tourondel for the steakhouse menu. There will be red meat, of course, highlighted by a signature côte de boeuf dry-aged for four weeks. If you find yourself with a sexy cardiologist to impress, you can opt for creative sushi, like peekytoe crab with mango and curry-lemongrass.

While the original Delmonico’s dusts off from Sandy, midtown welcomes a spin-off 175 years in the making. Delmonico’s Kitchen combines the heritage of the original with up-to-date vibes. Candlelit tables, red leather banquettes, and a long marble bar anchor the scene. The menu stands ready for the 21st century, employing organic and local ingredients, and freshening up signatures like lobster Newburg and baked Alaska. Perilously large and juicy steaks justify the legends. If you’re not in the mood for beef, rest assured they know their way around a plate of eggs Benedict. They invented it.

Brasserie fare is the focus of the newest version of The Smith, holding down prime (pun intended) real estate across from Lincoln Center. Unlike its two siblings, uptown has an expanded steak program, with filet mignon, NY strip, and prime rib among the offerings. The interior is McNally-esque, crossing a French café with homegrown industrial chic. White tile, blackened steel, and a zinc bar bump the atmosphere. An elaborate drinks program breaks things down into muddlers, fancy cocktails, and long pours, ensuring you’ll never sit through Le Nozze di Figaro sober again. (Although if for some reason you want to, they also have low-alcohol pre-theater mixes.)

The latest from John DeLucie of Crown and The Lion fame is the reboot of a classic ’20s speakeasy. “Gay” and “Nineties” are gone from the name, leaving just a stripped-down Bill’s. The historical interior is likewise absent, although the look remains eclectic, littered with artwork and the odd deer head and captain’s wheel. White tablecloths are laid out for a chophouse menu. A raw bar starts things off, running from oysters and stone crab claws to California golden osetra. Racks of lamb, rib-eyes, and 35-day prime porterhouses follow. There’s even a Delmonico, in case you can’t make it across town for the original.

Steak is back. We’ll never eat bánh mì again.

Industry Insiders: Bob Shindelar, The Tao of Bob

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Tao nightclub hosts some of the hottest parties in Las Vegas, and it’s Bob Shindelar’s job to make sure it stays that way. As the club’s Director of VIP Services, Shindelar is responsible for taking care of the “CEOs, athletes, models, film and music stars, media, politicians, and royalty” who make Tao their nightlife home base whenever they’re in Sin City.

Born and raised in Vegas, Shindelar made the leap from tending bar to guest services over a decade ago, steadily rising in the ranks to control the door at the Venetian Resort’s most exclusive club. He’s up early every day checking in with past guests and reaching out to new ones, while evening brings him to the club, where he ushers his celebrity clients to their tables and makes sure they have an unforgettable time.

Maintaining Tao’s stellar reputation among Las Vegas nightlife venues is a tall order, but Shindelar is up to the challenge, even if it has a tendency to take over his life at times.

“Nightlife VIP services is a unique luxury industry and the people you interact with on a daily basis are priceless,” he says. “It can be difficult to balance everything in your personal life because of the job’s demands. It’s sometimes hard to remember hosting isn’t who you are, it’s just what you do.”

Memorable nights are all well and good, but what keeps the high-rollers coming back again and again?

“The secret is hospitality,” Shindelar says. “That sounds easy enough, but all too often the industry is flooded with egos too great to be humble. The customer service you provide can make or break an experience, which is a lot of responsibility. You have to have enough humility to be nice to people.”

Of course, it helps if you’re relaxed and healthy yourself.

“You need to take time to unplug and hit the reset button every once in a while,” he says. “I kayak, mountain bike, race triathlons, snowboard, and backpack when time permits, but equally as important is that when you’re working, you’re WORKING!”

Inside Noah Tepperberg’s All-White Birthday Bash at Lavo

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I was told to dress in white for Noah Tepperberg’s birthday bash at Lavo last night. I normally don’t do costumes but there’s something about Noah that is undeniable. I complied, wearing white pants, a white shirt and matching sports jacket. Even my hush puppies had white shoelaces. Someone said if I had worn a black tie and was traveling with a little person I could easily be mistaken for Ricardo Montalban from the last season of Fantasy Island.

I was worried about that. I approached Lavo with trepidation. The phone was screaming that it was a madhouse and I was in such a mellow mood dreaming about Culebra, Puerto Rico, while walking around Midtown in my resort gear. I was whisked inside and kissed a thousand cheeks and shook a hundred hands. I stopped to chat with Jayma Cardoso and Alexis Clemente before superstar Andrew Goldberg navigated me to Noah’s table.

I was greeted by all the unusual suspects, met a celeb or two, and congratulated Noah. He is 36 years old, if my fingers and toes and other body parts serve me correctly. He is already a legend. As co-founder of Strategic Group and Strategic Hospitality Group he has accomplished more than any of his competitors and all without burning bridges—not a small feat. For my loyal readers living in Kansas, Noah co-owns and operates Tao (Las Vegas and NY), Avenue, Lavo (Las Vegas and NY), Marquee (Las Vegas and NY), is a partner at Artichoke Pizza and is upfront and personal at the Dream Downtown’s food and beverage program.

I’m sure there are things I don’t know about rushing up the pipeline. Lavo was a blast last night with the “in crowd” really getting into each other and music from stadium DJ Kaskade. Noah told me that one of the conditions of Kaskade’s performance was that a hundred of his loyal fans needed to get in to the uber exclusive party. Noah complied and the fanatics hung by the stage cheering and pumping their arms in the air. They added mega volts to the soiree’s energy. Once again Noah did the right thing and it worked out for the best. I left happy for him and all his success. He defies the adage that nice guys finish last, as he sits squarely on top of a world where it is always a celebration.

Then I was off to SL to another birthday bash. My dear friend Marc Henry was banging it last night. I rarely go to SL and I texted owner Eugene Remm, another young empire builder, wondering who was at his door these days. The debonair, Matt Oliver, was manning the post. I adore this guy. Hip, fun, sharp and humble, he has developed into one of the best doormen in town. His work was evident inside. The crowd was beautiful and mixed. I had more fun there than ever before and need to go back again and again. I promised myself. I might be going through yet another mid-life crisis but don’t have enough fingers, toes and other body parts to do the math.

I headed into the night but stopped at the door to chat with Matt. Adam Spoont was also celebrating his birthday. He introduced me to Vinny Guadagnino (of Jersey Shore fame). I had just seen him on some talk show just a few days before, where the interviewer was being sort of a dick. I told Vinny that he handled himself well and we talked for a minute. He’s alright in my book. Someone from the peanut gallery made a comment about him not being a celebrity. I responded that he was one in every sense of the word. If he does something it appears online and in the gossip rags, because the public wants to know about him. If he doesn’t act like an asshole then he should be treated as a star. He was very respectful in an old school way I understand well and I was pleased to meet him until I told Amanda. She said he was “the handsome one and the nice one too.”

I have to look up what month it was 9 months ago as I attended 2 more birthdays, albeit the night before. The bash celebrating man about town Michael James and wonder woman Caron Bernstein’s entry into our universe was at Macao. Outside players, Gary James (in from Miami) and Patrick Fahey, greeted me. Macao was crowded with that rare adult fun crowd that I always pine for. We hung outside with the cigarette smokers and caught up. Caron talked endlessly and showed us her baby pictures and talked endlessly again. She recalled the time when she found herself possessing a few too many birthdays to continue modeling as she knew it and without a beau to help pay the rent. She had been riding private jets and chasing the parties, dating rock stars, blowing through the money until the bubble burst and she needed…dare I say it…a job. She turned to me, her loving friend, for advice. I asked her if she knew how to do anything except show off her belly button (rated the best in New York)?

She said she couldn’t waitress or cocktail or any of that. I asked her if she knew how to bartend and she replied “Steven.” It wasn’t a yes but it wasn’t a no, so I put her behind the bar. I asked Patty and Marcus, my top barkeeps, to keep an eye on her and help her out. The first customer came up to her and asked her for a vodka-cranberry and she asked him what was in it. Marcus ran to get me. “She’ll learn,” I said, chuckling under my breath. She spent about half her time making bad drinks and the rest out in the crowded room laughing and hosting. Some of her colleagues complained. That was until they counted her tip money. Her box was full of twenties and fifties and up as she raked in more than the rest. She has always been a royal pain in my ass but that’s okay, as she has always been royalty in my book. I am happier than I can ever say about her child and that she has found her loving and supporting husband Andrew. Inside, Michael James was doing what he does best, chatting up beauties while sipping a cocktail. I was going to ask him how old he was but realized it doesn’t matter for the young at heart.

Strategic Group Team Talk: Avenue’s 2nd Birthday

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Once upon a time there was this club called Earth, as in what on Earth were they thinking? It was a disaster before they chose the name, and remained so until it shuttered. Nightlife is a game of smoke and mirrors, but also one of connections, service, experience, and heart. It also requires vision and — how do you say it? — balls. Most places that the “In” crowds are clamoring to get into now started off as decidedly unglamorous, until someone (or multiple someones) with vision, money, and the guts to invest showed up to lay claim. Arguably one of the worst joints on Earth, Earth gave way to Avenue— one of the best.

The great team at Tao Strategic Group gutted Earth and created a slice of heaven.

Tomorrow, Avenue celebrates two years on our planet. It has been a go-to place for the go-go-go crowd since day one. It took what was there, reconfigured the bones, made it pretty and extremely functional, and is a lesson on how things can be done in this difficult town. The Tao Strategic Group team—which is wowing everyone—is celebrating this anniversary as they prepare to open Dream Downtown. How they multi-task is not an accident, but a tribute to a structure built on teamwork and family. If I write about them a lot, it’s because they are doing a lot. I was invited to the events by Noah Tepperberg’s sister Judy who is an integral part of this growing concern. She is one of the unsung heroes that keeps concern at bay and the growing going. I asked Noah if he wanted to answer a few questions or have Judy do the talking. Team Strategic elected to have the teammates tackle the questions. So here are Noah, Jason, Rich, Andrew and Judy doing what they do best: working as a team.

Avenue celebrates 2 years this Thursday. To me it was a move by you guys to service your crowd in a new environment. Marquee was 8 years old at the time. What expectations were reached, exceeded or fell short?

Andrew Goldberg: Avenue has truly exceeded all expectations. We never thought we’d be able to keep the hipsters as interested as they are for this long. We never thought the food would be such a huge hit. We never thought our private event business would soar the way it has. We opened in 2009 and technically, the world was in a deep recession so our approach was to be more of an understated venue that focused on high quality and low volume. Thankfully, the world bounced back and Avenue was right there on the front of the curve.

Marquee is in Vegas and New York, as are Lavo and Tao. Is it just a matter of time before Avenue is there as well?

Jason Strauss: We are definitely looking to expand Avenue, it’s a great concept and the bran is huge. Vegas would be the natural first stop, but we also have an eye on London, Los Angeles, Sydney, and a few other cosmopolitan cities.

With Dream Downtown minutes away how does your organization multi-task to make both events and the nightly events at all the venues click?

Rich Thomas: When we opened Lavo, we made a point to push the envelope with Avenue, so it grew as our company expanded. As opposed to moving players from one team to another, we acquired new players and thus our team grew without the depletion of our game. The same is true for dream downtown, we are building another team that will work with our existing properties in NYC and Las Vegas to make the overall company stronger and make all of the venues work in sync. The beauty of Dream Downtown is that our company now has two outside spaces, which is something we were never able to previously offer our loyal clientele.

I see the invite came from your sister Judy. How has her role developed?

Noah Tepperberg:Judy has really grown from a laser focused operator into a CEO type who can multi task and play every role in the organization. When she asked me what she could do to help me today (she makes a point to take a minimum of one thing off my plate every day), I said yes, make sure all of our family knows about the Avenue 2 year… so, I guess that means you’re on the family list.

Now everyone says gastro pub or lounge how was the term decided on?

Judy Tepperberg:This was easy, we have a full kitchen and we serve food all night long, hence, we are a “Gastro” joint.” We refer to Avenue as a Gastro Lounge since we are a lounge that serves food. I guess on some nights we’re a Gastro club, too.

What can I expect at the anniversary?

NT: Lots and lots of familiar faces. I always tell my team that even though we technically only spent a few weeks working on our anniversary parties, that it really took 20 years to make them so great. This alludes to the amount of time we have been working in the nightlife industry (yes, I started at 15, Jason started at 16, and our partner Danny A., let’s just say, he started 20 years ago, too.