Cain Mutiny: Playing for a New Team

I attended the one-year anniversary of Avenue last night and it was indeed all things to those people. I popped in to pay respects, and was overwhelmed by a beautiful, relevant, and successful crowd. Although I always feel more comfortable in dive bars and hipster hangouts, there is no denying that Avenue, in it’s brief existence, has captured the hearts—and cash—of the bottle/model crowd. All things table service were honed and perfected at Noah, Jason, and Mark Packer’s joints, Marquee and Tao Vegas. While others have added their personal touch to the art of plying the goose from the ganders, as Carly Simon once put it, “nobody does it better” than this crew. On the way in I stopped to chat with my old friend Wass Stevens. As we talked about the ‘this and thats’ and ‘what have you been up tos,’ we were interrupted from time to time by a steady flow of the beautiful, the rich, and the connected as they passed through the velvet ropes. I asked him who was inside and he said, “everybody,” and proceeded to name names. Indeed, it was a cast of bold-face names that had your humble author shocked and awed. We don’t repeat the named names here. The old adage is, “those who can’t, teach,” and I stand by, “those who can’t write, gossip.”

So this is what I heard. I heard a rumor that Jayma Cardoso of Goldbar, Surf Lodge, and Cain fame is in deep negotiations with Avenue, Tao, and Lavo owners about moving her beauty, brains, and bottle-selling chops over there. I would presume it would be over at Lavo when it opens. Is this a Cain mutiny or just a natural flow of extreme talent from one successful empire to another? The thing about rumors is that they are sometimes exaggerations, and since we don’t gossip here, it’s nice to get a second or third confirmation. The thing with those confirmations is that they can sometimes be traced to the same source, so they are often nothing more than the ripples of the same rock thrown in the water. When I asked my sources where they heard the gossip, it turned out to be the same guy, so I went straight to the source.

Jayma called me back and told me that although nothing has been signed—“as of yet”—she “has an offer,” and is “in negotiations with owners, Mark Packer and Noah Tepperberg.” She also added that “nothing is 100%, but I’m very excited.” I asked her what was to become of Goldbar and Surf Lodge and she assured me that, “I’m still going to take care of my babies.” I called her ever-gracious partner Jaimie Mulholland, and asked for his take. He told me they were “exploring their own things,” and that “all have grown from their shared experience,” and that “We will, of course, always be close friends as we concentrate on our own things. We all have our own decisions to make.”

The move, when it happens, is of major significance. Jayma is one of the premier bottle-pushing entities in this business. Her clientele is vast, with a large following of South Americans and Euros. She is adept at training staff and bringing other waitrons with rich followings to the tables. The girls with connections tend to flock together, because most joints pool their tips. Waitresses don’t like to work in places where their bread and butter is spread amongst other waitresses who aren’t bringing good tables to the table. When everyone is pulling in big fish, they share tremendous amounts of tip money. A good crew can take home thousands each, on a single night. Jayma would fit perfectly in the NY-Vegas empire, which showcased itself at Avenue last night. Her assertions that this deal isn’t done, notwithstanding that it is a deal that will be done, because it makes sense.

If indeed her and Jamie are exploring their own things, then this is the right fit. With Noah, Mark Packer, Jason Strauss, and company, she will be among old friends who offer her a place where her customers will feel comfortable. She will be part of a professional team, with players similar to herself, working almost as hard as she does. It feels a little like Derek Jeter going to the Mets, but like our favorite shortstop, there are only a few teams big enough and ambitious enough to handle her. Like Derek, Jayma just can’t play for a team that isn’t winning, or in the rebuilding process. I must re-emphasize that the deal isn’t done, and we must give the players a chance to jostle and negotiate the final terms, but this deal feels like a winner for all parties.

The club gods giveth and the club gods taketh away, as former Marquee nightclub GM, Patrick Robinson has settled in at the new restaurant Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva are building on 14 the street and 8th. Patrick was the operations guy over at Marquee, which was Noah, Jason, and Mark Packer’s success story for about 6 years. He has returned from an extended vacation, and is getting that joint ready for a summer opening.

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