Inside Griffin with VIP Diva Rachel Uchitel

imageRachel Uchitel, the bombshell Director of VIP Services at Griffin and a BlackBook Industry Insider, gives us the skinny on the hottest door in town.

What’s going on at Griffin right now? We’re in the middle of launching our programming. This week, we started our 5:30 service. So we’re open as a cocktail lounge from 5:30 on, 7 days a week. The week before, we had a celebrity-packed opening night. Sting, Uma Thurman, Kate Hudson, Mickey Rourke, Nas, and Maxwell were there. Lots of socialites and famous models. Fashionista people, like Rachel Zoe and Yigal Azourel. Art people like Salman Rushdie were there as well. An incredible, chic, sophisticated turnout. It was a real opening of a nightclub. That launched our evening opening with bottle service.

What’s the appeal? We’re now a cocktail lounge from 5:30pm to 2am on the nights that we’re not open for bottle service. There’s no place to go in New York right after work at 5:30, and nowhere to go before dinner at 8. And no place to go after dinner at 10:30 or 11. This really fills a role of a lot of things that are missing in the city. We’re also right in the middle of the Meatpacking District, which is right in the center of destinations that people will go before and after. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said it — I have nowhere to go out before I go out at night. There’s no door policy until 11, so it’s walk-in service until then. It’s not the kind of place where people will feel intimidated.

How has the transition been for you? I’ve worked for some of the best in the business at some of the best places between New York and Las Vegas. I’m very happy to work at the Griffin because it combines all of the elements that I learned in my past. We mix impeccable customer service with the most amazing, glamorous room, which is small enough that it can be very intimate. I was working at Tao, which is huge. At Griffin, we’re fitting like 350 people. I work with a great team here, and I have a great product behind me. People can get personal attention here from the second they walk in the door until the second they leave.

What’s the vibe like? On any given night, Griffin is the ultimate cocktail lounge that caters to a chic clientele looking for a sophisticated night out with impeccable service in New York. We’re staying away from a very young crowd, but it’s chic, real New Yorkers. The feel is a 19th-century salon.

How does the Griffin stand out from other lounges? The coolest thing is that we offer a list of punch bowls on our bottle service menu. We’ve come up with the idea that bottle service doesn’t have to be ruled by people ordering a bottle of vodka, tequila, or champagne. Average bottle prices are $350-$400 and up, so the average customer is spending between $500 and $1,500 on any given night. We tried to come up with a method where people would spend the same amount of money, but have the option to do something different. The guys from Milk and Honey and Little Branch came up with the punch bowl cocktails. You can get the Philadelphia Fish House Punch, where the bartenders come to your table and pour in the fresh ingredients and liquors and ladle out drinks for each member of a party. That’s amazing customer service. It’s so boring to order a bottle of champagne. This opens up to bottle service customers that we haven’t had it before. Girls aren’t generally bottle service customers, but if you get eight girls together, this is do-able. It can change your night. It’s not the typical night out. You can offer your friends a punch bowl instead of a bottle of vodka or champagne, and they’re served in these beautiful silver punch bowls.

What would you order as a bottle service customer? I’d get a table after dinner and order the Griffin House Punch for 10 people. I think it’s a great, cool thing to do on a night out. There are people who want to go out at 10pm and be home by 1am. It takes a certain person who wants to go out at midnight and be home at 4am. This opens us up to a whole different clientele who have jobs, who have to be there on time and sober. It’s great for after work or girl’s night out. You can also get our specialty cocktails served in a carafe size. If you wanted to come out with a small group, you can get a carafe as bottle service as well. This concept totally separates us from other lounges.

What’s the dress code? New York chic, super downtown. I’d prefer to see people dressed up, sans baseball caps and sweats. There isn’t necessarily a dress code because being chic and trendy sometimes goes hand in hand with wearing sneakers.

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