Industry Insiders: Andy Hewitt, Music & Menu Magnate

Andy Hewitt combined his talents (and his contacts) to produce two of the hottest restaurants in West Hollywood — Il Sole and Luau. With rock ‘n roll manager Arnold Stiefel (who still manages Rod Stewart), Hewitt transformed Il Sole into an atypical, low-key Hollywood slip-in and provided a reincarnation for Luau — the legendary tiki outpost — with famed chef Makoto Tanaka (Mako, Robata-Ya). Along with his long-term partner Bill Silva, Hewitt has the exclusive contract on contemporary music for the Hollywood Bowl. Since 1991, he’s booked acts from the Rolling Stones to Luciano Pavarotti. Hewitt gave us some tutelage in merging rock ‘n roll with hospitality.

You’re balancing full plate these days. How’d you get here? I couldn’t have been anything else. My childhood friend in Coldwater Canyon was [film producer] Bill Gerber. We met on the school bus, and his father was an agent in the music business. We started going to concerts at young age, so I was touched by the music business early. Billy went to work for David Geffen and introduced me to enough agents to get me going. I was naive enough to think that that there were all kinds of promoters who were well-established and thought I’d be able to book shows in LA, and even Billy told me I’d never be successful in LA. Maybe in Tucson or Fresno. But I didn’t know any better, and I succeeded. Years ago, I met [music promoter] Ian Copeland at my nightclub in Redondo Beach and started buying shows from his agency. I got my start in that side of the business from Ian, his brother Miles, and Gary Kurfirst — who managed the B52s, Talking Heads, the Ramones. I still see Linda, Johnny’s widow, at Il Sole. I went out on my own in 1991, formed a partnership, and sublet the Hollywood Bowl. Peter Morton gave me the contract to book the joint. The Rolling Stones said Peter and I brought rock ‘n roll to Las Vegas. We were the first to bring all ages shows there for punk acts like Nine Inch Nails and Depche Mode, all because Peter allowed it to happen.

Where do you go out? I like Harry’s Bar in Venice because I love how the restaurant keeps with the city. It all ties together somehow. There’s nothing like taking a little boat over from the Cipriani Hotel, or walking next door from the Danieli. When I asked a friend where I should go on my first trip to Italy, he said I had to go to Harry’s Bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In New York, I like Masa. He may be the greatest chef in the world, and I miss him no longer being in LA. In LA, my favorite is Cut because it’s so perfectly simple and delicious, and I’ve always felt comfortable surrounded by Richard Meier’s extraordinary, contemporary décor. And when you watch Wolfgang Puck work the room, there’s nothing like it. He treats those visiting for the first time the same way he treats Mick Jagger. He and chef Lee Hefter have done an amazing job with a rather uncomplicated menu.

Who do you look up to? James Nederlander, my greatest mentor, had great faith in me and allowed me to blossom to whatever I am today. My great, late friend Ian Copeland showed me how you can do a great job in your business. He loved the artists that he represented and the people he worked with, and he made it all work.

What’s going on in your industry these days? We’re all paying that much more attention to our guests having a positive experience and getting great value. If we buy the highest quality of sole for Il Sole we try to do the same with Luau. I think the quality of food in almost every city in this country is at a much higher level than in the past, and you can go to cities that aren’t known for great cuisine and really get a good cappuccino or espresso and a good bowl of pasta. That didn’t happen 10 years ago. You couldn’t find good food or a decent hotel in Malibu 15 years ago. So much has happened since then.

Anything negative? I discovered tiramisu in my early 20s, and now my friend’s four-year-old orders it for dinner.

What is something that people might not know about you? How much I care about what I do on a personal level; my work with George Malouf and his family at The Palms or Peter Morton and the Hard Rock. It’s what I want to do. Getting to book the Hollywood Bowl and putting the Stones and the Police on is an honor.

What are you obsessed with? My favorite sport is Formula One, and my favorite track is Monza. My favorite cars are Ferraris and Porsches. My game is Monopoly. I’m a secret collector of many types of antiques. I live in a Spanish revival home and love to collect post-Impressionist paintings and Tiffany lamps. And yes, I love my garden, but I like to supervise gardening even more.

Any non-industry projects in the works? I don’t talk about philanthropy. I just do it.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to have a massage and watch the stack of Netflix I’ve been trying to get to for a week and a half. I’ll probably order in from my favorite Indian restaurant, Flavor of India.

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