Industry Insiders: Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva, Two Of A Kind

While opening a successful nightclub in New York City is no easy task, maintaining a nightclub’s status as one of the city’s hottest spots for nearly five years is close to impossible. Yet that’s precisely what Scott Sartiano (left) and Richie Akiva (right) have done with 1 OAK, which first cracked open its doors to a stylish sliver of Manhattan society in 2008. Its reputation has only grown since, with 1 OAK pop-ups in places like Brazil and St. Tropez making it a truly international phenomenon. But it was only this year that the duo decided to open a permanent outpost outside the Chelsea original. Enter 1 OAK Las Vegas, which began welcoming celebrities like Kanye West and Fergie in January. 

What led to the new 1 OAK Las Vegas?

Richie Akiva: With 1 OAK, we are building a brand, and we’ve branded ourselves a lot among the jet-setting, world-traveling crowd. When we have events in Brazil, or in Europe, people come in and they’re like “1 OAK is amazing.” When I go to Paris or Milan, everyone asks me about 1 OAK. Wherever you are, when you say to someone, “Do you know this club, 1 OAK?” they’re like, “Yes, I do.” So we decided to take it to Vegas. 
Scott Sartiano: 1 OAK New York has been open a long time, and I think that longevity has proved that the brand is strong and stands for something bigger than a nightclub.
Akiva: We do events in St. Tropez, Ibiza, LA, Coachella. You name it, we’ve done 1 OAK pop-ups everywhere. 
Sartiano: Even before we did those events, our clients were from all over the world, so that helped get the name out there. But 1 OAK as a club stands for something. It stands for class, exclusivity, good energy, and a good time. It’s not about some DJ that you saw on a flyer or anything like that.
Akiva: It’s a lifestyle brand.
Sartiano: And I think that’s given it longevity and is going to help make it different in Las Vegas.
Akiva: The name speaks for itself. It’s one of a kind.
What’s the secret to your success when so many other nightclubs have come and gone? 
Akiva: We’re always expanding, we’re always staying relevant. We pay attention to what people want and what people are asking for. We don’t just open a club and say, Here’s the club, it is the way it is, and then forget about it. We’re always changing things and we pay attention to every detail. But at the end of the day it comes down to our relationships, and our relationships are very loyal.
Sartiano: It’s about consistency, but also staying current. A lot of the time you have clubs that say, This is what we’re going to be, and then they stay that way. But then the times change, tastes change, people change, music changes, and they don’t change. We’ve stayed current from being all over the place and staying on top of what’s happening. We love 1 OAK, we think it’s something special and important to us, and we want to make it the best nightclub in New York, if not the world. I feel like it’s just getting going.
Are there any particular adjustments you’ve made for operating in Vegas?
Akiva: There are a lot of adjustments you have to make, it’s a whole different of mindset of going out in Vegas compared to New York or anywhere else. You’re there for only one reason and that’s to let loose and party.
Sartiano: It’s four times the size of the New York location, and there’s a tremendous light show. It has all the same features of New York in design elements but it’s on a bigger scale. And people in Vegas are there for a fun weekend with their friends, whereas in New York they live and work here and go out on their nights off or weekends, so it seems the crowd is going to be different.
Akiva: When you look at Vegas, you’re always seeing bigger brighter better, so that’s what we had to adjust to. New York is more cool and collected. With Vegas we had to adjust it to where we were going to keep the New York style of coolness, but we had to make it bigger and brighter and better and give it more pizzazz.
How has it been received so far?
Akiva: The feedback has been incredible. People are loving the space, they’re saying it’s one of the nicest places they’ve ever been to in Vegas. It’s a Vegas-style club but it feels more New York than any club in Vegas because all the other clubs are really big and our club is not quite as big, so we get to keep it exclusive.
So there’s a sense of intimacy to it?
Sartiano: Well, it’s definitely a bigger version of 1 OAK New York, but we wanted to keep the style the same. 1 OAK is really unique in Vegas because it’s warmer and cozier than the other clubs.
Akiva: But it still has a big feeling to it.
Sartiano: A lot of the other clubs copy each other. If you walked into the top clubs here, they’re almost carbon copies of each other in their layout and their design. 1 OAK is unique and does things differently.
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