EMM Group Opens The General, A Sure-Fire Hit

I’ve was invited to the friends and family opening of The Generalthe new restaurant from EMM Group at Bowery and Spring. EMM is Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein. They are the force behind Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, CATCH Roof, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, SL, SL East, Tenjune, Chandelier Room, Revel Nightlife, FINALE, and Bow, and lots of other stuff. Bow and Finale are the other parts of the Spring and Bowery space that once housed Boulevard and Crash Mansion. Executive chef Hung Huynh of Top Chef fame offers up modern Asian cuisine in a red-chaired gilded wallpapered paradise. All the inside-info is here.

Opening up this time of year is interesting. Most operators look to open in the early or late stages of spring or fall, and with 300 seats, there will be a lot of kinks to be worked out. Groups like EMM have fewer kinks than most.  Opening now allows the place to hit its stride as the nice weather and affluent snowbirds return. They can do no wrong in my book. The General stretches the Bowery strip from its previous above-Houston Street border where joints like Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Gemma, Peels and many others serve neighborhood residents and well-heeled visitors. This is not the Bowery of my youth. Little Steve Lewis trivia: my great uncle was one of the famed Bowery Boys.

Most clubs reported near-normal attendees for the week after New Year’s but much lower revenues. People went out but seemed to be tapped or burnt out.  For all except for the very top operators, New Year’s Eve is a loss when you account for the naturally slower nights preceding it and the after-effects. I’m still beat up from all the rushing around, and Christmas bills are still being paid. Getting me out requires special coaxing.

Many people obviously get terribly drunk on New Year’s Eve and try hard to slow it down for a couple of weeks. Then there are those resolutions which often include a step back from the boozing. My resolutions always end in a vow to break all my resolutions ASAP. We are still enjoying tourist dollars, but those will fade away as vacation bucks tend to fly to warmer climates this time of year. The cold keeps people in and, well, you get the idea.

EMM group is way ahead of this game. They have a built-in clientele that’s enamored with all their other joints. CATCH is still more than killing it, and the word "NEW" is always a sure draw. The General, a NEW offering from an established hospitality group enters as a sure thing. I’ll keep you posted.

EMM Group’s Sweetest Weapon: Pastry Chef Thiago Silva

Arriving ravenous to an interview with a renowned pastry chef was a bad idea. I knew it the moment Thiago Silva – the 28-year-old Brazilian executive pastry chef behind all OF EMM Group’s restaurants –  placed a massive, glazed green tea donut and mini honey jar before me, and uttered three little words: “It’s cream-filled.” With that, I was off to the races, cutting open the donut, scooping up the green tea mascarpone cream, drizzling the honey all over its lemon honeycomb-topped self, and leaving no crumb behind. Thiago wasn’t fazed. It’s most patrons’ natural response to the signature dessert at The General – EMM’s newest hotspot: an Asian-inspired bar, restaurant, and downstairs jazz lounge.

But at The General, the doughnut doesn’t stop there; the Bowery spot has become known for Thiago’s most nostalgic, breakfast creation: cereal-topped doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts topped with Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and filled with their respective cereal creams. “A lot of people think I was high when I came up with the idea,” Thiago says. “But I wanted a breakfast item, so I combined my favorite breakfast cereals with my really great doughnut recipe.”

The doughnut recipe is another wildfire idea Thiago’s concocted that’s become EMM Group’s top-ordered dessert across all their restaurants. On the sweets menus of their spots CATCH NY, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, and Abe & Arthur’s, you’ll find one signature doughnut. For CATCH Miami, it’s their key lime doughnut. At The General, it’s green tea. For the rest it changes, with flavors like pumpkin and peaches and cream.

But Thiago – the man who grew up in Astoria and ironically bellowed “Feed me, feed me, Seymour” in his star-turn as the man-eating house plant in his high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors  – brings more than doughnuts and plated desserts to NYC. He’s also a master of cakes, known for creating outrageous cakes for EMM’s clients, most notably a four-foot-by-four-foot 16th birthday cake with a confetti cannon, fog machine, and lights. Suddenly, the chef doubles as an electrician.

“I googled how to do the electrical and wood work for the cake,” says Thiago. “And that’s what I love about making cakes – you never make the same cake twice, you never know what kind of order you’ll get. It’s a collaboration with the client, and you’ve got to deliver and make it memorable.”

Thiago, who’s had no formal culinary training, has made lots of memorable cakes for folks you might recognize: Brooke Shields, three cakes for Sofia Vergara, and the entire New York Giants squad, the day after they won the Super Bowl.

“That was the best, they’re my team,” says Thiago. “And Sofia is funny; she told everyone at the party that she stayed up all night making the cake.”

But nowadays the chef is staying up all night for a whole new reason: he and his wife have just had a baby boy. Full name: James Brenden Silva (adorable video here).

“He’s my favorite kind of sweet,” Thiago says. “Him, and tiramisu.”

The General

Learn more about chef Thiago Silva, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

EMM Group’s FINALE Brings The Edge Back to NY Nightlife

FINALE, the long-awaited EMM Group entry at 199 Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has finally opened – and it’s a game changer. This is a place created by a well-heeled, bottle sales-based group with creativity at its core. To those who pooh-pooh bottle service and blame it (and Rudy Giuliani) for all the terrible things that have ever happened to New York nightlife, I say pooh-pooh to you. Without bottle service, burgeoning rents, insurance, and salaries would have buried nightlife. The problem is that clubs banking for big bucks have catered to the bores with black cards, a scene that’s unbearable to the artistic set. FINALE embraces the downtown scene with performance types on staff, and bartenders and waiters dressed and ready to perform at the drop of a beat.

For far too long, entertainment in major nightclubs has consisted of little more than a forced smile from a wannabe model rushing through the crowd holding a fiery stick while a DJ plays tracks the rich dudes and their lady friends love to hear over and over again. But FINALE offers the hope that, in an effort to set themselves apart from the pack, operators will once again employ creative types to define their brands.

Back in 2007, The Box thought outside the box with its Did-I-just-see-that? brand of entertainment. For some, it went too far, but The Box is still there, and Sleep No More and other nightlife fringe concepts are bringing in creatives and spenders in equal measure. Their devotion to pushing downtown artistic programming has been justly rewarded. FINALE offers an opportunity for the public to expect even more. If it continues its success, other operators will follow its lead, and maybe the suits and ties will no longer dictate club programming. From my experience, once you start traveling towards the edge, a great deal of the public becomes interested and wants more.

EMM provides balance as they balance their bottom line. The artful mixing of downtown with the swells has worked for eons and is working at FINALE now. Plus, having a management team that’s in tune with the times helps.

Some words from the founders:

“Nightlife in New York is a bit stale at the moment—nothing new or different has opened in several years,” says co-owner Mark Birnbaum. “Both the timing and the new Lower East Side location of FINALE are perfect to attract new customers who don’t go to the Meatpacking District or Chelsea to eat and party, while bringing many of our current clientele along with us.”

“Moving down to the Bowery puts us in a unique position,” adds partner Eugene Remm. “Just as Bungalow 8 emerged on West 27th Street, and Lotus took root in the Meatpacking, we hope to be the first to bring an entirely new concept to the area. With this project, we break away from our current mold and create something entirely new on all fronts, from our music format to the location itself and the ways in which we can creatively program the entire space.”

Whether the big spenders will continue to be comfortable heading that far downtown to experience an increasingly weird mix of entertainment—and whether the creative set will keep emerging from their Brooklyn lofts to lend artistic authenticity to the nightlife venue—is far from certain. But with success stories like Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, SL, and Tenjune in their portfolio, EMM’s Birnbaum, Remm, and partner Michael Hirtenstein are just the men to turn the mix into magic.

BlackBook Protests at SL & I Land in the Hospital

Any night that ends up in Bellevue can’t be all bad. Your humble servant managed to hurt himself badly enough to require attention and numbing pills. The cute doctor quoting Gloria Gaynor said “I will survive” with the oomph and believability of the disco diva. I believed her and here I am. Instead of flowers, send sympathy notes to Kenmare, which has just won The Eater Award for Best Shitshow of the Year. The other nominees were Artisanal, The Lion, Rouge Tomate, Shang, and Abe & Arthur’s. What do I know? I love most of those joints. I was downstairs from Abe and Arthur’s last night, attending the Blackbook magazine November issue release bash at SL. I told everyone that the joint was named after me, and everyone protested. November is themed “The Protest Issue” and I wrote a piece for it about those “Shitshow” winners from Kenmare, Paul Sevigny and partner Nur Khan.

Sante D’orazio shot my pals with Don Hill, at Don Hill’s. Freida Pinto, the babe from Slumdog Millionaire, is on the cover. I don’t know what she is protesting about or who, so I’ll be reading my copy after this to find out.

I didn’t know too many people at the soiree. I don’t know how you get invited. I usually hear about BlackBook events from unrelated people, and call up protesting: “Hey! How come I wasn’t invited?” It’s invariably an “oversight” or something like that, but sometimes I feel like the black sheep of BlackBook. I kind of don’t mind that and will not protest. Maybe that should be on my business card. DJ Anna Cavazos and Patron tequila kept everyone from protesting anything. As I departed into the night, unaware of my eventual fate, I stopped by Abe and Arthur’s to see if it was, indeed, a shitshow, as Eater implied. It was packed and vibrant. I guess the crowd hadn’t heard about the nomination, or they showed up in protest. Somewhere in the night I imagined Nur giving Paul a high five.

I was on my way to the Blind Barber when I was miss-happed. My face, which earlier in the day was described by my potential television producer as one “made for radio” got even worse. Something about a tooth getting infected and the inner ear and all that made me look like Deniro’s Jake Lamotta, late in the Sugar Ray fight. I would have protested, but only my Amanda was on hand to get me much needed help. I have spent many a morning at Bellevue over the years. Sometimes I did something to me: fell off a ladder changing bulbs at my fab 80’s joint, Liquid Sky, a punch not ducked, or a bad meal from a late night pre-letter-rating restaurant. I always preferred the late great Saint Vincent’s Hospital—better crowd. Mostly, I was there for others who scuffled their way in or took something that eventually put them in an unconscious situation. Last night it was me, a dozen cuffed creatures of the night, and all sorts of miss-happing people. My Amanda was cruising cute doctors while I drifted into sleep from my medication. She liked the one who looked like Rob Lowe. I couldn’t protest.

According to my pal Dani Baum, Blind Barber was hot. It was hosted by stylelikeu.com, with my super chic friend Malcolm Harris hosting. Louis XIV DJed this happening. Dani was waiting for me along with stylelikeu editors Elisa Goodkind, and Lily Mandlebaum, but alas, I was a casualty. I wanted to go to the Royalton to visit the newly renovated 44, now called Mon Chouchou, where my old pal Lyle Derek is clearly bringing it. Last night was a party/dinner for Debbie Harry as she celebrates her new tour. I have known Lyle since the 90’s. I’d say he worked for me forever, but he would protest, and in the end the story would conclude with me working for him. The good promotional people are like that. They own everything they are part of, push it forward and make it work. It only works if it’s that way. Half the club “owners” in town don’t even own their own shirts, but that’s another article. Lyle is one of the best— taking events through the soup and nuts, making them super fun for the attending nuts. Over the years he has produced legendary events and weeklies. He gave me Joan Jett as well as Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Spa. He also did Ben Sherman’s first US fashion show for me, some early Vice Magazine events, and some events so unforgettable that no memory survives to talk about them.

He has done it all: doors, go go dancing, producing, and promoting. He put Courtney Love at Plaid, which ended up in all the papers as a mic stand somehow ended up attached to somebody’s face. I wonder if the dude went to Bellevue for that? He was behind that Squeezebox film about the long-running party at Don Hill’s. He told me yesterday that he will return home to Don Hill’s on November 21st with a new weekly called Dropout. He even has a clothing line called God Save New York. Coincidentally, when I went to Bellevue last night, my Amanda was sporting a GSNY hoodie. It’s all Sex Pistol font and fabulous. These days they sell at Ricky’s. He tells me Moby, Debbie, Karen Finley, ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, and a gaggle of others sport his wares. The amazing Miss Guy will DJ Sundays. She was the Squeezebox spinner, and more fun than anyone, except maybe last night’s Bellevue crew. I don’t really miss them and I haven’t slept much or well. I would protest, but who would listen?

Photos by Zhanyi Jiang.

Abe & Arthur’s First Birthday & Other Childish Things

Last Friday night, I landed at Abe & Arthur’s approximately one hour early—a first for me, seeing as I’m nearly always late for after-work engagements. But it seems that just as bad as being late for something in the nightlife world is being too damned early. An establishment needs some time to set up properly and hide the bodies, or whatever they’re always scrambling to do. So I left to walk around the Meatpacking District, but after seeing several undercover cops bust some junkies in front of Catherine Malandrino, I decided it was time that I settle into Abe & Arthur’s front bar to wait out the start of their first birthday celebration.

Though I was solo, as I usually like to roll, I was about to be breaking bread (or having cake) with Justin Rocket Silverman of Urban Daddy New York, the Shadow PR gals, Lizzie Brown from Quest magazine, the new Page Six lovely, Tara Palmeri, and several others. We were gathering for the first anniversary party for the first restaurant venture from the EMM Group, and more specifically, for Abe & Arthur’s new menu reveal and the most enormous cake —made by cakemaster Thiago Silva—I’ve seen outside of Ace of Cakes.

The new menu is basically the same as the old, but I wouldn’t have known. (Although I almost fell down the stairs of Abe & Arthur’s trying to hunt down a canape tray last year, I had never come close to experiencing the food.) The menu newcomers include a grilled octopus dish and a delectable grilled “Chairman’s Cut” pork chop. What’s interesting about the nightclub-turned-restaurant (it was once the home of Lotus) is that it still maintains the slickness of a late night boite while forgoing menu items of the same ilk. Instead, chef Franklin Becker focuses on comfort food of all sorts: steaks, sliders, arctic char, and cod, and sides like garlic mashed potatoes, truffled-herbed Parmesan fries, and hearty mac n’ cheese. To explain to you just how far they take the comfort aspect of the menu, the Irish Cereal Milk cocktail that Silverman bravely ordered (Jameson Irish whiskey, cinnamon toast crunch cereal milk, with real Cinnamon Toast Crunch floating at the top) is the stuff your 6-year-old self’s dreams were made of.

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The atmosphere jibes with your prepubescent self, too. It’s glittering in design and grown-up in feeling, a combination that naturally attracts youth—young professionals and old pros toting youngish models. It’s one of those joints that inspires you to stay a little longer, to dress up for dinner, and to relish in the peculiar theater of evening entertainment. More importantly, it’s a restaurant that, while being upscale, remains unstuffy. In the few hours I was there, I witnessed a grown businesswoman hop up on her chair in a raucous gesture to her table. Perhaps Abe & Arthur’s still hosts the club ghosts of venues past. Or perhaps it was time for that table to head down to the actual club, SL, located within easy tripping distance just below the restaurant

Where Celebs Go Out: Mario Batali, Mayor Bloomberg, Danielle Staub

Mario Batali at the opening of Eataly: My favorite places to eat are generally downtown in the Village: Pearl Oyster Bar, Spotted Pig, Grand Sichuan. My favorite thing to eat is anything anyone else makes! Da Silvano has an octopus salad and octopus grill that’s really beautiful. ● Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the opening of Eataly: There are 20,000 restaurants in New York City, and I try to eat at every single one of them. ● Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: wd-50, and in Brooklyn, Pacifico, the Mexican restaurant on Pacific St.

Drew Nieporent at Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards party: Restaurants that are owned my friends—Jean Georges, Daniel, Mario Batali, the usual suspects. And El Bulli in Barcelona. My favorite dish is anything that Mark Ladner makes at Del Posto. ● Bethenny Frankel at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Trump Soho, Abe & Arthur’s, STK. ● Johnny Weir at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Cipriani Downtown has the most amazing vanilla meringue cake. ● Tinsley Mortimer at her handbag launch party at Samantha Thavasa: Avenue and the Biergarten at the StandardBryan Greenberg at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: The corn, the tacos, and the margaritas at La Esquina. ● Danielle Staub at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Cafeteria for the little sliders, the mac and cheese. For dessert, their Everything But the Kitchen Sink. ● Lamar Odom at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. ● Mick Rock at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: Kenmare. ● Richie Rich at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: At the The Lion, the champagne’s my favorite. I like the atmosphere and the food’s amazing. The energy’s amazing at the Boom Room Room.

Dream Ball: Vogueing at Capitale

Giselle Xtravaganza’s Dream Ball would have been a nightmare had it not been for the courage of the fearless crew who made the most of it. The brave, the fabulous, and the few that did attend were treated to a marvelous time, as all who gathered at Capitale for this event know you really only need two people to have a party. It seemed like 200 actually came, but they were expecting 500. Maybe the $40 ticket price was a bit too ambitious. The little magnet on my refrigerator asks and explains, “If Size Doesn’t Matter, Why Aren’t There 4-Inch Dildos?” This is a valid point, but quality and enthusiasm are also incredibly important. There was no shortage of either at Giselle’s Dream Ball, and she should be proud.

The Dream Ball is what some call a Vogueing Ball. The dozen Vogueing categories had eager and seriously brilliant enthusiasts “walking,” and the crowd was screaming and carrying on. A good time was had by all. Participants from the various Vogueing Houses competed for fun, love, and, of course, cash prizes. Houses, often named after fashion icons like Mugler, Mizrahi, and our very dear Patricia Fields, are governed by mothers and fathers, and in Xtravaganza’s case, a grandfather (Hector). The Xtravaganzas were made famous when Madonna justified their love with their favorite track, Vogue. Soon, everyone was doing it. Movies like Paris is Burning, starring the legendary Willie Ninja, also helped popularize this sublime subculture, where genders are bent like so many trees in the Queens tornado last week. In fact, “Twisters” are queens as well. Wiki describes them as having the “ability to blend in with heterosexuals, then come back and vogue fem.”

There was indeed a Twister category. This is not a strictly gay affair, as lines and definitions of sexuality are manipulated, confused, obscured, and definitely redefined. The “women” competing in the Female Figure Performance competition were “flawless” and “passable.” That means if these ladies (who are often only recently officially ladies, if at all) were to, say, stroll past a construction site, rivets and jaws would surely drop. Indeed, many a participant in this gala has walked a runway for a fashion week show or two — without being judged for anything more or less than what they are. It’s a concept that seems hard to grasp by a society that, on one hand, celebrates its modernism, but on the other, judges people’s sexuality in 1955 terms. I demand you attend the next ball, and laugh and scream and enjoy the celebration

The Sex Siren competition, with its oiled up beef and slinky seductive gals, had my normally talkative date speechless. The Labels competition was won by a stunning brunette, who peeled off layer after layer of a stupendous ensemble. At each baring moment, an MC would ask, “Who is this by,” and she would say “Alexander McQueen” until she got down to what God and some nameless surgeon blessed her with. The Androgynous versus Exotic Face competition was all that it could be, and the Vogue Fem battle was unreal. I congratulate Giselle Xtravaganza for completely captivating me, both with her enchanting charms and the brilliant production of The Dream Ball.

Capitale, which hosted the Dream Ball, was formerly the Bowery Savings Bank. This iconic space was designed by Stanford White, who was murdered in 1906 at the age of 52. Stanford would have loved this use of his timeless space. His other works are passed by daily as New Yorkers bustle around town or walk their dogs. The main post office building on 8th Avenue, the arch in Washington Square Park, the Players Club in Gramercy Park, and the Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street are just a few of his remaining works of art and design. His untimely death was at the hands of millionaire Henry Kendall Thaw over White’s “ruining” of actress/model Evelyn Nesbit. It was the stuff movies are made of. The Girl In the Red Velvet Swing is based on the affair. It seems old Stanford had a room in his house where the ceiling and walls were mirrored and a velvet swing hung from the middle. He would entice young and beautiful women to this lair and watch them swing, ply them with sticky liquids, and then seduce them. Evelyn Nesbit visited as a virginal 16-year-old girl and left the next day a woman. Years later, her husband had this eating up his craw when he fired three shots into the face of Mr. White. He shouted, “You ruined my life!” Some say he said “wife.” After a couple of trials, he was acquitted, as the murder was deemed a justifiable passionate response. The Hearst papers sensationalized the whole shindig as the crime of the century. It was 1906, and the century was very young.

Capitale was created by David Marvisi. I was there, and sat through the negotiations and redesign schemes. I even named it “Capital” after a sign on the façade while driving with him past the building in one of his Bentleys. Marvisi europeonized it to Capitale. They had celebrity chef Franklin Becker (Abe and Arthur’s) and employed the usual suspects to promote it, but it never made it as a restaurant. The decision to leave the main floor available for corporate events ruined any chance it had to be a great restaurant. The restaurant was placed in the foyer, which always seemed to me like an afterthought. The grandiose main room still functions under Seth Greenberg’s guiding hand, and is the premiere corporate space in town. Capitale honcho Claudia Baricevic made sure me and mine were comfortable. The staff were just superb in handling this delicate event, which, of course, went on 2 hours late. The old bank was not intended to host such soirees, but as all things brilliantly done, it can adapt to the times.

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Group Dinner Lottery

Organizers of big group dinners have it rough. The individual is subjected to the whims of 5 to 15 people or more, often on an email chain where the last suggestion paired with a witty retort or clever anecdote about the level of attractiveness of the staff at such-and-such restaurant wins. Well, screw it. If you volunteer to organize a group/birthday/going away/welcome home dinner, use this new fool-proof method and eliminate haggling amongst potential dinner-goers. It’s not complicated. It’s a lottery, but unlike the New York state variety or credit card roulette, in this game of chance everyone wins. Write down each restaurant on the list below on a separate piece of paper, shuffle ’em around, and pull from a hat. First restaurant wins. It’s not complicated, it’s just science. Bon chance!

Bacaro Sit in the cavernous basement wine cellar for a candle lit evening that’ll mask the group’s escalating inebriation. Make a private party reservation if you have a large group and get your own Phantom of the Opera-inspired room.

Abe & Arthurs Sure, it’s a little sceney, but the menu is pretty easy for everyone. They have Spinach & Artichoke dip, fish, pork, steak and pasta, and salads for girls who don’t eat. It’s also a one-stop shop in that you can take the crew directly downstairs to SL. Just remember, no physical activity for 30 min after eating.

Scuderia Let’s face it, Da Silvano is for your parent’s friends. But during the summer, the outdoor sidewalk seating just crushes it (in terms of awesome-ness). Scuderia has a younger vibe and your friends will thank you after a night of 6th Avenue people watching and catching up.

Gemma Easy to book a biggun’ as long as you plan ahead. They’ll forget the ‘no reservations’ policy if you have a group of 12 or more, and they prefer to arrange a prix fixe menu for you and the gang.

The Smith East Village American Brasserie with a photo booth in back! Just in case you get bored with the seating arrangement.

Barbuto Groups of ten or more can reserve the kitchen table and sample the chef’s tasting menu. Way cooler than the way the proletariat does it.

Freemans Reservations for 6 or more, and nothing says celebration like escaping the city rush up Freemans Alley and stepping into Narnia/Hogwarts/The Wardrobe/Whatever mythical realm you prefer.

Dumont For groups up to 15, the Williamsburg hotspot reserves the breathtaking terrace, and if you’re smart, you’ll request the ‘treehouse’, that rises above the garden and gives your party a little more privacy.

Los Feliz Tri-level taquería has plenty of room to accommodate your rowdy group, plus their lounge stays open until 4am, so the odds of getting kicked out early are nearly impossible. There are also 150 tequilas in stock here, in case you want to set some sort of record.

Alta The seasonal tapas menu is extensive, and there’s no food envy as everything’s share-able. If you’re feeling aggressive, order “the whole shebang” for $420. It is one of everything on the menu, and no one will go home hungry. Request the upstairs area through the kitchen for super secluded private dining.

The Smartest Guys in the (Boom Boom) Room

Nightclubs can’t survive in this economy on booze sales alone. It’s for this reason that today’s savvy businessmen are now looking to on-site restaurants to support their operations. Food seeds a room early. Smart new boîtes are doing big dinner business at 5pm—or brunch, even—with their clubs only a staircase away. Whether or not they eventually fill up, places that don’t serve food don’t do much business until well past midnight, which means their owners spend way too much money on soaring rents, insurance fees and operating costs. New York nightspots like Tenjune, STK, Simyone Lounge, Abe & Arthur’s, the new Butter and the forthcoming joint from Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva all play this same game. Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss’ Avenue even does it all in the same small room.

Not satisfied with simply adding food? How about rooms? Hotels have answered the prayers of many nightlife operators in the past, and the trend has once again gained momentum. Look no further than Las Vegas, where proprietors have always known that travel money is the easiest cash to separate from a customer. Hotels are fairly immune to police harassment, because the corporations that own them are well-equipped with lawyers, lobbyists and friends in high places—it’s much harder for community board biddies to prevent them from doing business. New York’s Boom Boom Room (or whatever they pretend to call it), Rose Bar, Provocateur and now Kastel thrive in this atmosphere.

Deep in the heart of every club, the Serato mixer in the DJ booth has truly changed the game, making yesterday’s crates of records totally obsolete. DJ booths are now little things tucked away in corners. Anyone can download thousands of tracks, and laptops now allow schmoes to mix like pros. The pretty-boy DJ trend has exploded in equal measure to the prevalence of the Serato, now that any kid with a great smile and a hot girlfriend can buy or borrow what once took years of experience and knowledge to acquire.

And what of the mighty doorman? Nightlife’s high-priced Dr. No may soon become a lost boy, as A-list clubs consider going entirely guest-list. Whether or not this is a wise decision remains to be seen, but the advantages are compelling: Owners will know in advance who their patrons will be, and can orchestrate seating accordingly; it’s unlikely that an undercover cop will gain access and lines of noisy patrons vying for a doorman’s attention will no longer annoy good neighbors. If this happens, people really will have to know somebody to get in (although pretty girls who aren’t on the list could be evaluated by an arbiter of “in” watching via hidden camera). There will be no arguments since there will be no one with whom to argue and no palms to grease with folded bills. Bottom line: you’d better get used to paying in advance.