Bottle Service Lives On: Judge Blocks Bloomberg’s Large-Soda Ban

Judge Milton Tingling proved that you can fight City Hall when he overturned Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ban on large containers of sugary sodas. Using words like "arbitrary" and "capricious," nightlife’s favorite judge stopped the insanity hours before the regulation went into effect. The rules would have banned carafes of mixers used in bottle service, forcing night spots to have containers of 16 ounces or less instead of the usual double that. What that means is tables designed to accommodate a bottle or two, ice buckets, napkins, glassware ,and mixers to name a few would be unable to handle that load, and alternative systems would be needed.

The regulations would not in any way stop the delivery of sugar-containing mixers, but it would just make that delivery more problematic and costly. Most clubs do not serve 100 percent pure fruit juices with their bottles, so orange and cranberry juice would also have to be poured from smaller vessels.

Clubs were scrambling to find smaller containers, and all sorts of other adjustments were going to be needed to comply. The size of tables needed to be rethought and possibly extra personnel hired to bring what patrons needed.

This law was silly. No one drinks out of a carafe, and it’s obvious that said container is meant for multiple patrons. I’m all for educating people about the harmful effects of sugar, and advising people to only drink diet or water. However, there is a great difference in keeping children away from large containers of sugary liquids, and it’s another thing to force adults to stop having what they want.

Where does this end? Surely the alcohol is as dangerous as the sugar. Surely the staying-up-late can be harmful, same with the noise and the possible unprotected sex. Passing laws that infringe on lifestyle is dead wrong. I agreed with the smoking ban because secondhand smoke hurts other patrons and workers, but secondhand sugar is not a reality. Kudos to Judge Tingling, and here’s hoping Mayor Mike’s threatened appeal is lost.

What on earth is happening down at Bow. Closed already, sources told me the place on the Bowery where Crash Mansion offered local and national bands is needing a rethink. Finale and The General are doing just fine, but Bow in the same building has Travis Bass bowing out.

The other day I wrote a story that things over at Butter Group were not exactly hunky dory. This got a response from the players there that my sources are wrong and that everything is actually hunky dory. Sources are sources, and I did write I was unsure of the validity of their remarks. I wish those guys a ton of success as I have only the greatest affection and respect for them. I look forward to a redone Butter, and the new programming I hear from all sides will happen at The Darby. When I went back and asked one of my sources about the story’s accuracy, they replied that they would stand by their statements, but that the normal state of things over there is confrontational – but somehow they always deliver a great product.

Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit

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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.

Why That Recent NYT Nightlife Article Makes No Sense

I’ll be at BOW, 199 Bowery at Spring, tonight and maybe even tomorrow to check out the latest and sure-to-be greatest offering from bon vivant Travis Bass. The 199 Bowery space is an EMM Group foray to the wonderful world of downtown. There is an attitude out there that nightlife needs to deliver uniformity or even predictability for success. EMM group seems to be taking a different approach and should be commended for their effort. A recent NY Times article " A Night Life Veteran Bets On Social Media," is not worth the paper that I didn’t read it on.

Mr. Andy Russell, a former owner at the defunct Moomba – the most overrated club in history – is gathering groups of people to joints around town early in the evening. The creatures of the night will be just stirring or putting on their outfits while Mr. Russell’s crowd gathers at places bound to be chic after they leave. It rants about the acceptance of the same ol’ same ol’ attitude of bringing like-minded people together.

Clubs are wonderful when like-minded individuals mix with people who dress, behave, and generally think differently are thrown in. The "novel" idea of having parties early so that people can be in bed by midnight is not only nothing new, but reeks of old and tired. Jerry and Mimi Rubin did this networking thing decades ago before social media made networking so easy. They drew 5,000 suit-and-tie types that didn’t want to mingle with the hipsters and those "other" types. The OMG complaint about being in a real club which will even have a door policy later in the evening is sooooo lame. This is a way for clubs to get early revenue; it’s been around and forever and there is nothing wrong with it. Andy’s crowd has a right to gather, but why the Times Inc.?. It is a tried and true way for the older set to go out and meet and agree, and it sounds as boring as anything I’ve heard about in a while. Charity events serve this purpose and exist for a good cause. 

This Sunday, a good cause requires the presence of some of these suit-and-tie types and others who want to mingle. The children and supporters of New York Foundling are having a reception at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th Street, where attendees will enjoy a matinee performance of the Broadway show Annie the Musical. Attendees will include:

"Staten Island-based Foundling families, many of whom have never seen a Broadway show, and who have been trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The Foundling purchased tickets for the children and their families with money donated from a campaign to support “real-life Annies” across New York City . The Foundling is hosting a pre-performance reception at the Palace Theatre featuring a special performance by students from The Foundling’s charter school in the South Bronxwho will serenade Annie composer Charles Strouse with their own rendition of “Tomorrow.” CNN “Starting Point” Anchor and Foundling volunteer Soledad O’Brien will emcee. (This short performance is scheduled to begin at 1:00pm.) Other guests include the original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, Annie producer Arielle Tepper Madover, director James Lapine,  and Annie the Musical cast members.

Bill Rudin, vice chairman & CEO of Rudin Management Company, Inc. and Anthony Watson, chairman and CEO of EmblemHealth, Inc. will be honored for their strong and continuous support for The Foundling."

There are hundreds of events where good hearted people can meet and mingle with like-minded types.

A dinner for non-like-minded people will celebrate artist Kevin McHugh as he heads to Art Basel 2012 with all those Art-y Basel types. The dinner hosted by Patricia Fields, Wendy Williams and DJ Danny Tenaglia will be at THE OUT NYC, 510 W. 30th street, where thinking outside the box is encouraged. Kevin’s art is Pucci-inspired and will be previewed at the soiree. DJ Alex Perez’s sounds will dance around the conversation. 

Last on today’s list of things to do and, of course, not do will be Saturday’s “Wildchild” party at 107 Suffolk St., 11pm. Pal Ian El Dorado will DJ. My friend, Facebook and otherwise, Joy Rider will host and I can’t miss it. There, I will bask in rock and roll and hang with like-minded people that I like.

New Year’s Eve Parties for All, and Management’s Response to the Christmas Incident at Le Souk

First of all, Happy New Year. Today will be short and sweet as BlackBook staff is cutting out to get ready for the big night. Yesterday’s article about Sam Valentine allegedly getting beat up by Le Souk management did get a response, which you will find below. As for New Year’s Eve, I, of course, will be DJing at the Dream Downtown and will be there when 2013 is rung in. Afterwards I probably will pop into Lit to say hey to that gang.

I am sending people to parties that suit them. There isn’t a be-all event for everyone. Many will love the Dream, many 1 OAK. Many will just be in heaven at The Darby while others will love Toy. For people with my view of things I’m recommending the Box and Bow.

I am heading out to 305 Ten Eyck, Brooklyn for Seva Granik’s party, BRCDBR and THV ENT. present Shanghai. Seva and Thunderhorse are producing this event and the installation, which "is going to focus around the fear, or the premonition, of China and Chinese culture taking over the U.S. So lots of  futuristic stuff like screens, lasers, smoke, etc." The DJ’s are Gavin Russom, a "legendary DFA label guy who built their synths for them and played in the now-seminal act LCD Soundsystem" and Venus X, a big deal. The New York Times just did a profile on her. The music is going to be very dancey and very unexpected. Admission is $10 and it starts at 1am. They have my vote.

On New Years Eve the biggest problem, except for the people you are surrounded by, is getting around. If you are not a public transportation kind of guy or gal I suggest hiring a local car service for some hours. Rates range from $25 to $50 an hour . Traditionally I have hired them from 1 to 7 am, sometimes splitting the cost with another. It’s great to have a driver to whisk you around safely while you party like it’s 1999. New Year’s Eve is amateur night for the club industry. Take it from a pro and prepare for all contingencies.

In life they say there are two sides to every story. In nightlife, when you add in booze , dark lights, loud music, and other factors, some stories can have multiple sides. Yesterday I ran a story about a beaten up and down story, Sam Valentine. Others who were at Le Souk on Christmas night verified that indeed owner Marcus Jacob had kicked and punched Sam. Today Le Souk responded to the allegations that Sam was attacked, bruised, and hurt to the point of hospitalization by Marcus Jacob with the help of security. Yesterday I referred to Sam as hobbit-sized, and that description is fairly accurate. He told me he was 5 foot 7 and I’ll believe him as long as he believes I’m 6’3". Sam is 5’7" standing on a phone book. He has heart but is no match for the forces that hospitalized him. 

The response from partner Lamia Funti is below. She is a partner at Le Souk and wife of Marcus Jacob. I have always respected and enjoyed her, but having read her response I cannot help but think that excessive force was brought to bear. Her version only tells of a late night argument, with promoter Sam Valentine reacting badly to not getting paid on Christmas. The amount was $200. All accounts agree that he was loud and demanding, but Sam is a lover and a promoter/DJ, not much of a physical threat to anyone.

The response attempts to justify the physical altercation. It does not explain the injuries inflicted by bonded security and an owner. Anytime a person is beaten badly and in need of hospitalization somebody screwed up. Unless weapons of mass destruction come into play security must contain the situation, and kicking and punching are not allowed.

Here is the response from Lamia:

Unfortunately, it was a small situation that escalated over nothing. Our accountant took the day off since it was Christmas so there was no one to make the checks. We let our staff know so that they do not wait for the checks in vain. Everyone was fine with it, since we never have problems with the checks.

At the end of the night, Sam Valentine comes storming downstairs, asking Marcus to give him "his fucking check now." Marcus was actually very calm, he’s really not the guy that likes to fight, he was trying to calm him down, but he was cursing out, and making a scene at the bar downstairs.

I called the security to calm him down because now he was pushing people around when they are trying to talk to him and we didn’t need a scene in front of our friends and family, while Marcus only asked him to wait til tomorrow for his check. Since it was Christmas, our friends were all there and two of my aunts that are much older in the fifties were there as well, which was embarrassing.

I went quickly to tell him to stop and he pushed me with his hands and called me a bitch, the security saw that and they tried to contain him but he wouldn’t stop fighting, we just asked him to leave, he did not want to leave, and started throwing things around and fighting with the security who was trying to escort him out. I also have several witnesses that saw that and saw him wrestling with the security.

We actually called the police, before it got out of hand, which is really unfortunate. When the police got to Le Souk, he started cursing the officers out which I’m guessing that’s why they told him they would arrest him. And the rest is history. We have been in the business long enough to be mistreating our staff or customers in any way, and we always pay on time, for someone to be acting that way after we ask him to come back the next day because its Christmas and nobody came to the office to work, but we can not tolerate having people storming at us like that while there was no wrong doing.

I guess this is the way he’s planning on getting back at us. And by the way, Ariel was at no point near the scene, he didn’t see anything at all and witnessed anything, and did not talk to the security at any time, he was upstairs the whole time.