Industry Insiders: Jason LaGarenne, Anchors Aweigh

Jason LaGarenne, General Manager of The Anchor, is setting sail for unknown territory this fall and opening a bar/restaurant/nightclub with Gunther Bilali (pictured Right), an investor in The Anchor. Although details are slim at this point, the future partners agreed to give BlackBook a sneak peak and a few hints about the new joint. After three and a half years at the West Soho establishment, where business is still booming, LaGarenne decided to split his nightlife know-how (having previously worked at Hamptons hot spots Star Room and Conscience Point) between his old haunt and a new gig. More after the jump.

Backstory: I’m originally from Brooklyn. I went to high school out in the Hamptons, where I met a lot of people involved with nightlife and that’s how I got started working in the clubs out there. I was at Conscience Point when Lizzie Grubman drove the car through the crowd. That was my first summer there, maybe the third day I was working.

On the new joint: We’re keeping the location quiet right now. We just started the construction phase. It doesn’t have a name yet, but I can tell you that it’s going to feature three distinct spaces under one roof, and we’re not going to go down the familiar route of bottle service. We’re putting together a nightlife all-star team. Now, everyone’s coming to Soho, so we’re going below Canal Street. We’re trying to stay away from everyone else. It’s a few blocks below Canal in TriBeCa. It’s a space we’ve had our eyes on for a while. We’re shooting to open during fashion week in the fall

On filling the void: We feel like there’s a lack of creativity in nightlife. It’s just like one club is copying the next club. All of the clubs that opened in the past couple of years say they’re going to do something different than bottle service as soon as they open they do the same old route, the same bottle hustle. So we want to try to do something more creative.

On bottle service alternatives: Someone is always going to want to buy a bottle and you can always offer that. But when I say a bottle service venue what I mean is the places where getting in is dependent on how many bottles you buy. That kind of attracts a generic crowd. That’s why all the clubs are just homogenized. It’s the same people, you hear the same promoters involved, it’s the same kind of crowd. For a while, that happened with the finance crowd and created a really dull environment. If getting through the door is dependent on how much money you spend, that isolates a lot of people. The coolest people aren’t necessarily going to come in and spend $5,000 or $10,000 on a table.

On the reasonable doormen at The Anchor: Some people that work the door have a sense of humor about it. Our doormen are really funny. We’ve had a couple different characters out there and they’re just nice to people. You come up to the door, you’re going to a place to go out and have fun and dance and spend money. Do you want to be met by a complete asshole at the door? That kind of sets the tone. We don’t abuse people. The people that don’t get in are the people that have the attitude of doormen at other clubs, if that makes sense.

On the ‘celebrity hangout’ aspect: When there are celebrities in there, they just mix with everyone. They’re at the bar drinking. We don’t hide them in a corner or show them off. When Kanye West came in, he left his security guards in the car and just walked in and was hanging out at the bar. Kirsten Dunst comes up and just orders drinks at the bar and buys drinks. They’re not off in a corner with a bottle and security guards. Generally, people have responded very well to it. We don’t have people snapping camera phone pictures and going up to them. They’re just part of the crowd

On being star struck: I don’t really get star struck. I’m more impressed with people that have actual talent. Like when DJ AM was DJing, that was amazing. I was excited by Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols.

Drink of choice: My favorite drink is just a straight, all-natural margarita. A version of it with Partida Reposado, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.

Go-to places? I use to hit up all the clubs but I’m pretty tired of it. Lately, I’ve been going to Painkiller. I go to Locanda Verde and for old school Italian, definitely FIlli Ponte Restaurant in TriBeCa.

Areas he’s over: Any of the meatpacking places. I just avoid that whole area. There’s a large influx of douche bags that go there now.

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