New York Opening: The Ellington

Since that great lady of jazz was honored with the opening of Ella in the East Village in 2008, it’s only fitting that the Duke himself gets a similar tribute in the NYC epicurean pantheon. This one is about 105 blocks north, however, at the corner of Amsterdam and 106th Street. The Ellington is another partnership venture between Glenda Sansone and Andrew Breslin, whose Greenwich Village bar Slane has been a runaway success.

Here, they are teaming up with Guy Ritchie pal Lester Almanzar, who was chef at the director’s celeb-magnet Punch Bowl restaurant in London. Ellington’s interior melds provincial rusticity with exposed industrial elements and charmingly mismatched seating. Almanzar’s menu has a gastropub vibe, without leaning too heavily on twee English cliche. To wit, the Cumberland sausage and mash is complemented by a grass-fed organic bison burger and classic butternut squash risotto. The highlight of a selection of flatbreads is surely the kale and peppers.

The drinks menu by Allen Katz of Williamsburg’s New York Distilling Company nods appropriately to Ellington’s catalog, with highlights including “A Slow Ride On The A Train” (Knob Creek Bourbon, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Fuji Apple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice) and “A Sophisticated Lady” (Perry’s Tot – Navy Strength Gin, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup). Swingin’!

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for the Ellington; More by Ken Scrudato; Subscribe to the BlackBook Happenings email newsletter.]

Rumor Has It: Boulton & Watt Is Launching Brunch

When Boulton & Watt opened in the East Village in January, I thought that was good enough; a rustic, yet industrial, sexy spot serving gouda and white cheddar mac & cheese, brick chicken, and a gooey cookie cake? Sold, to the highest bidder. But while dining on their Scotch egg and veggie burger last night, I heard a little rumor… brunch is beginning at Boulton. Weekend brunch.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s a development that may take several weeks, but nonetheless, brunch will happen at Boulton. Soon. And if it’s anything like their dinners, this brunch is sure to blossom like spring tulips into the city’s best. Poetry…such is Boulton.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here. Check out BlackBook’s New York Guide.

The Mondrian New York on Track for March Opening

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. This winter of discontent will end sooner rather than later and thankfully, for nightlife, things are as simple as hot and cold. The warm weather will bring South Americans and snow birds back to spend money here, instead of there, wherever that is. Although the calendar says that winter will slink into spring on March 21, nightlife has its own seasons. New York Fashion Week is already upon us, which marks the thaw of a severe freeze in revenues that began on January 1. The smart set, the jet set, the fashion set, and the playboys who follow the models are all in town to celebrate the shows and the thousands of unbelievably important events that celebrate them.

And if that isn’t enough, Valentine’s Day is also thrown in to up the ante. Valentine’s Day creates a boom for restaurants, but it can be problematic for clubs since patrons spend their cash on roses, candies, diamonds, pearls, and those lavish dinners before going to bed early that night. But Fashion Week will give clubs a boost and the eternal hope that spring ushers in already has joints gearing up, sprucing up, and cleaning up. Things should be heating up in nightlife as new places with grand ideas and new décor will be showing everybody how it should be done. I will note two of these openings today.

Yesterday afternoon, my pal Salvatore Imposimato gave me a tour of the brand new Mondrian Hotel, which looms large over the Chinatown/Soho/Nolita nexus of Crosby and Howard Streets — you know, right by Canal. The Mondrian also looms large over nightlife, as the same successful synergy of drinks, music, and events that Sal brought to the Hudson Hotel will soon become a reality here.This is the Morgans Hotel Group’s first New York construction since Ian Schrager went his own way, and it will be a force to reckon with. The Hudson, located where no man had gone before, brought hip downtown relevancy to an area better known for other things. I found myself there way too often, having way too much fun. The Mondrian’s location is a much easier commute for those that create the scene and I expect great things from it. Uber chef Sam Talbot will be in the kitchen at entrance level restaurant No. 9, offering an East Coast fish menu and — when it’s a little nicer outside — BBQ on the panoramic 26th floor Penthouse. With its’ 1500 sq-ft outdoor deck and a view of everything that counts (and Hoboken too), the penthouse will surely host spectacular soirees.

The restaurant space was nearing completion as I walked through and it looks accessible, yet chic. The hotel interior, by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, seems to take a page out of the Dorothy Draper school of design, most notably seen at Ella (which was designed by Draper purist Carleton Varney) and the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City, which was executed by Boom Boom Room designer Sean Hausman. The new hotel is Hollywood “Golden Era” chic, with a fun language of design. Of course, most of the furniture and fixtures are yet to be installed for the March 1 soft launch, and it may morph into something else by that time. I can’t wait to see the final product as it’s looking fabulous even at this stage. I was particularly interested in seeing the lounge, which I was told is being called Mr. H. after a fictional character “Mr. Hong,” who takes care of all the patron’s needs (wink, wink) in this Chinatown-meets-Humphrey-Bogart romantic dream. There are large painted rabbits scurrying in and out, and hidden ones to delight those who peek around. This is in celebration of the current Chinese Year of the Rabbit. There are neon Chinese characters masked by sheer curtains and a busy bar with jars of dried seahorses, ancient mystical cures, and all the common cures as well. Of note is another neon sign which scolds: “This Is Not A Brothel, There Are No Prostitutes At This Address.” This sentiment was underlined when proprietor Armin Amiri told me that he would not being employing promoters. He wants people to come in and have fun and the concept of a promoter table with a bevy of prostitutes, oh — I meant to say models, is unappealing. The girls in that setting are not accessible, merely window dressings, while Amiri wants people to interact and move to the music. With that in mind I caught up with the legendary Lord Toussaint in a t-shirt and jeans, connecting an impressive sound system. We chatted about the last time we met, about isolating the sound from room guests, and about speakers and stuff that would mostly bore you more than my usual. Needless to say, the sound will be amazing. He did Pacha’s system and is regarded as a top tier, international guy. Armin, ex Socialista, ex Bungalow 8, is poised for great things and was very excited about having his crowd occupy the new space. There will be a “Friends and Family” event this Friday and I hear Paul Sevigny may christen the turntables. A tour of the rooms was enlightening. A deep blue carpet, deeper blue mirror, and more ultra-sweet Draperesque moldings made me a believer. The Hotel complex is due to officially open on March 22.

]Also gearing up for a look is Bowery Beef, located in the front space of one of my haunts, the Bowery Poetry Club. Michael Herman and Ray Lemoine will be serving up North Shore-style regional roast beef sandwiches. From what I could make out as I listened and scribbled on cocktail napkins (which, by the way, should always be white for scribbling) this roast beef is very thinly sliced, rolled into a patty, and served with condiments (usually BBQ sauce). It’s all the rage. They will also be serving breakfast with H&H Bagels and lox and Blue Bottle coffee which, according to my napkins, is served after an ounce of these ultra connoisseur grinds are sifted through a porcelain cone directly into your cup.

This stuff is so amazing that no skim milk or flavorings are tolerated. It was hinted that I may not be sophisticated enough for its many charms, since I sip Dunkin’ Donuts in a waxed cup when I’m on site doing my day job. At night they will program different events and utilize the performance/bar space when it’s not being used, which is quite often. This Sunday they will be featuring my pal Catherine Fulmer’s fashion extravaganza with her show and after party. This is ultra hush hush, but they’ll have a sneak peek this Friday for their buddies. They too are getting off to a good start at Catherine’s extravaganza with Paul Sevigny providing tunes, but unfortunately they asked me to DJ after him. Maybe they feel that with all of this Fashion Week commotion, people might need a quick nap around that time.

Photo courtesy of JoonBug.com

Industry Insiders: Michaelangelo L’Acqua, Global Warming

When Michaelangelo L’Acqua first entered the high stakes world of music-meets-high-fashion, he couldn’t have been more blissfully unaware. L’Acqua has spent a decade working with designers like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, John Varvatos, Jil Sander, Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg on nearly 150 fashion shows and 200 commercials. L’Acqua is far from naïve about the industry, and as a seasoned vet in an ever-thinning circle, he’s diving into his new position as the W Hotels’ first ever Global Music Director with unbridled enthusiasm and bohemian sensibilities. L’Acqua has been busy producing the W’s 8th CD, crafting a digital mark for the brand and drumming up more than a few live performances. More on L’Acqua’s W plans, history in the industry and memories of the “velvet mafia” after the jump.

Fashion backstory: I used to play in funk and soul bands. Then, I wanted to be part of the bigger picture so I moved into production. After I’d been producing music for a while, I got invited to produce a Cynthia Rowley fashion show with my old partner who didn’t know anything about producing. We did a bunch of remixes for the show, and the next thing we know, a production company called Kevin Kline and Associates heard about the remixes and how people were just going nuts about them. They asked me to audition, and then, I was on a plane to meet this guy Tom Ford. I had no clue who he was. When I landed in Paris, I turned to my old partner and said, “How is he related to Ford trucks?”

On Tom Ford: When I met him, I was like, “Hey, Buddy! How you doing?” Everybody else was like, “We don’t look at him in the eye directly. You have to have a ten foot distance away from him at all times.” Working for Tom was one of the most intense moments of my entire life in the creative world. He’s a man who had such unbelievable vision in what he wanted to accomplish in fashion and in life. When I started, it was one of the largest moments in fashion. It was the passing of the torch. Yves Saint Laurent was just stepping down. Saint Laurent hated Tom Ford because he thought he was selling out to a person who wasn’t like Saint Laurent. He was such an epic character and Tom was more of a marketing genius. Tom acquires the most talented people in the world and orchestrates them to create his vision. For me not to have known anything about fashion and then thrust into that world was insane! I’d have to create a soundtrack like a score for a film and visualize it from the words that Tom would say. He’s the only other man that made me cry other than my father. He’d refuse the word “I can’t.” I used to say, “I can’t do this!” He’d just look at me and say, “That’s not part of my vocabulary. You’re gonna do it or you’re back to oblivion.” Every move you made could be your last, but if you did what he wanted, you were like a prized dog.

Career highlights: One was the first season of Gucci where Tom was inspired by the movie Magnolia , and I did remixes of Aimee Mann songs for the show. The level of attention we received having no one know who we were at the moment was incredible. Then, the first season of Yves Saint Laurent when Yves Saint Laurent stepped down, everybody was waiting for that show. There were people who were expecting Tom to fail and people who were expecting Tom to be the next God. We were told, “If you fuck this up, not only will you never work in fashion again, but we’ll probably break you. We’re gonna get the velvet mafia on you and you’ll be in some ditch somewhere.” Other shows that stand out are John Varvatos when he won the CFDA Award for Men’s Designer of the Year. We did the show in Florence, and it was this America rock icon show inside of an abandoned church that had been burned out. We opened it up with Jimmy Hendrix playing “Star Spangled Banner.” Every single person in that room just had chills straight down to their toes.

On DJing: I grew up in a time when you had to be the baddest motherfucker on the block. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t get the job and you never got hired again. Now, it’s changed. A lot of it is about who looks good in a skinny tie and all this other shit. I watch DJs, and it’s not about the skill that they put into their craft. I still approach it like the years where I was an artist or a musician. I wish more kids put more time into their craft these days.

Favorite DJ’s: There’s this one guy, Lincoln Madley. He’s a slick little brother–plays everything and his knowledge of music is phenomenal. There are a couple guys I like in the city. One guy’s named Jesse Marco. He’s real good. There’s another guy named Ian Boyd who is really good. And, my old friend Jordy.

On being the Global Music Director for W Hotels: It’s the culmination, the convergence of all the things that I do and that I have done. From working with advertising agencies, in fashion and scoring commercials, producing records, behind the scenes executive producing to managing egos and talent in the corporate mindset. I find myself working with the W at a time when the industry’s completely falling apart. There are no rules anymore. Whatever worked three years ago, chances are, is not working now. I feel like an artist. I’m a creative person who can just throw some stuff up on the wall creatively. Then, pick the pieces that mechanically work well together. Present it with a partner like the W and say, “This is the direction we can go.” People are now being forced to be more creative and let go of the institution or they’ll sink with the institution. I feel I’ve never been more creative in my life than right now. Working with the W has given me the platform to really help them have a voice out there.

Current projects: We’ve just launched a new record, Symmetry, and I’m in motion to prepare for the next record. I think we’re gonna depart from your standard compilation. We’re taking it more into original content. Within that, it’s developing the relationships and identifying the right artists that could be a part of this record. That’s a day-to-day project even though it may be nine months out. Then, we have the Symmetry live events. We start the first one in Los Angeles with Janelle Monae. We might be doing something with Kelis in Miami for swim week. We’re developing our DJ series, as well. So, we’ll do record release parties and we’ll pull in maybe Golden Filter, maybe Aeroplane in six or seven different cities throughout the US. We’re working hard to develop our digital initiative so that we can come out in 2011 with a whole new interactive platform.

Go-to places: I love places like Bianca and Florio’s, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Barrio Chino, all these Lower East Side joints. La Esquina. There’s a bar called Ella on the Lower East Side that my friends own. I’m excited for the Downtown W, happening in the next few weeks.

Side gigs: I’m producing a festival in Southampton in August. We secured the rights to the land and it’ll be a 1000 to 1500 person festival. An all-day event with ten bands of epic proportion. Then, I’m producing a Mafia Opera that I’ve been writing. It’s a cross between Tony and Tina’s Wedding and Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s an homage to Martin Scorsese’s mafia films. I’m hoping to premiere in August at a place like The Box. The project’s called Tommy Shine Box and The Mirrors. Everybody sings.

Good Times: A Night Out with Katie Longmyer

It’s around 12 am on a Thursday night, unseasonably warm outside for the middle of March, and subMercer is getting crowded. There are two DJ’s on duty, Jacques Renault and Brennan Green, both spinning heart-pounding disco. As a result of their fine handy work, an impromptu break dance competition has formed on the small floor in front of the DJ booth – a dapper gent in a half-mullet rhythmically bouncing to the breaks, as a small girl in a green dress sort of gyrates next to him.

Earlier in the evening, long before people started showing up, Katie Longmyer was worried that turnout might be a little slim tonight, on account of the gorgeous weather (subMercer is in a basement. Maybe people will favor a more open-aired venue?). But as midnight comes and goes, droves of SoHoites begin to flood the party (thrown along with Anthem Magazine). Longmyer stakes out a perch in the back room near the DJs, drink in hand, a small group of friends surrounding her, the early-evening worries are quickly proven unfounded.

Longmyer strikes an incongruous figure at a place like this. Pencil-thin women in high stilettos and sleek black skirts are dancing with becoiffed men in low-cut shirts, self-serious pouts on many a face. Katie is not pencil-thin, she’s smiling, and she seems to favor jeans and simple blouses over the more elaborate (and expensive) outfits of her guests. But on this temperate evening, this is her space, as it is once every month here at subMercer. Longmyer–who works under the pseudonym “The Queen Bee“– may be unassuming, but she is a Queen of New York nightlife, a well-connected party-giver whose events have been getting more and more crowded.

Though she has been in the business for almost a decade, it’s only been fairly recently – in the past year or two – that Longmyer has seen her profile really start to ascend. Since 2005, Longmyer has run a party-promotions group called Good Peoples. She’s also co-owner, along with business partner Jennifer Lyon, of Meanred (Good Peoples is a subsidiary), which throws its own parties and shows at venues across the city and owns and operates the Brooklyn Yard, the open-air summer music venue next to the Gowanus Canal. Longmyer seems to know everyone in the scene – DJs, club owners, musicians and of course fellow promoters – in part because she seems to be everywhere. In addition to her monthly soiree at subMercer, Katie and Good Peoples have thrown parties at places like GoldBar, Von, Ella, Santos and a Chinese restaurant-turned dance venue called 88 Palace (which at times has the feel of an early ‘90s rave, without the parachute pants). This summer, Katie will be presiding over a monthly party on a refurbished civil-war era schooner called The Clipper City that docks at the South Street Seaport. And she says, she’s now in conversations with The Box about throwing parties there.

Take it as a sign of the times, perhaps, that Longmyer’s ascent has been so recent. A downed economy and the city’s apparent newfound hostility to some New York nightlife (witness the closing of Beatrice and the Jane, and city raids on a slew of bars for alleged smoking violations) have contributed to the closing of more than a few high-end clubs and bars. All this, plus a slightly more impoverished social set, have given no opportunities to independent promoters. “The New York club scene is kind of on a weird tip right now,” says Jacques Renault, one of the DJs at the subMercer party. “A lot of people want to do loft parties, a lot of people want to do things that are special, and clubs are…” Renault trailed off. “We want to establish a place where you want to go, and all of your friends want to go.” He added, “And Katie is an instigator [for that].”

“Katie’s good at what she does,” says Joey Rubin, who runs a New York promotions company called TASTE, and who has worked with Katie on a variety of projects. “She’s really good at building real friendships, and I think that the general public wants to be around a tighter network of real friends and not just sterile [commercial venues].”

Longmyer’s email list is eclectic, and each of her party seems to bring out a slightly different group. “At the New York parties that I loved, all different types of people came, no matter who you were and what you were like, you all went into one big room,” she says, as we sit in a corner of the space, sipping cocktails before the start of the evening’s festivities. Dave Brubeck is playing across the speaker system.

Longmyer complains that in recent years, the nightlife industry has lost sight of itself and “turned into a business that defeated the whole point of nightlife. It was about moving product and volume, and you needed a certain clientele to buy a certain number of bottles and that changes your whole situation.” She adds “when the economy tanked you lost a lot of those dollars and if that’s what you rely on, that’s what you lose. That’s why a lot of those bars are closing.”

image Longmyer is an improbable party maven – the daughter of a music teacher and a career foreign service officer (her father, Kenneth Longmyer, served as U.S. Consul General in Amsterdam and ran for Congress in 2006 . “I met Strom Thurmond at an ambassador party when I was five,” Longmyer says). She studied classical cello in college and says she had dreams of becoming a symphony conductor when she was younger. But she also liked to go out, and at a relatively young age became a regular on the D.C. house music scene. “I saw all the people skipping the line at clubs, all the people talking to the D.J.s and by I was like, ‘How do I meet the person who threw the party? How do I meet the DJ?”

While still an undergrad, Longmyer began working for Warner Music Group as a “field rep,” going out to various venues on behalf of the company, at first in D.C. and then in New York. She transitioned into a job as assistant to Lori Feldman, a marketing executive at Warner. In 2004 Longmyer started Good Peoples as a side project. “Katie was well-informed about a part of music culture and style culture that very few people at a big mainstream company like Warner Bros. were informed about,” says Feldman. “She wasn’t just informed. She lived it every day.” By 2008, Good Peoples had become Longmyer’s main focus, and she left Warner. “My attention and desires were becoming more and more focused toward Good Peoples, and it just became unfair for me to stay,” Longmyer says. Soon after, Jen Lyon recruited her to merge Good Peoples with Meanred productions, and they began throwing events full time together. The two expanded from there. “Katie gets it…she’s just really plugged in she brings in the cool kids, the very downtown set,” says Gabby Mejia, SubMercer’s General Manager. “I just feel like New York nightlife definitely went down hill over the last few years and she’s one of the people who gets it and is bringing it back in terms of music and in terms of crowd.”

This summer, Longmeyer will be back at The Yard with her partner Jen Lyon, and she will continue to hold court at her traditional haunts like SubMercer and Von. And, of course, there’s the talk of parties at The Box.

It may be that the nightlife world, like all else, moves in cycles and one day, a few years down the line, the flashy, bottle service-oriented crunk clubs of yore will resurface. For now, though people like Longmyer seem to be filling a different sort of need. “It’s a simple concept,” says promoter Joey Rubin. “Katie brings family around – it’s the name of her damn company. Good Peoples. That’s what she does. People want to be attached to real relationships. And people who are good at building that are bringing an entirely new business model to nightlife.”

A Gift List for Clubdom

The ghosts of Christmas past drive me to self-analytical frenzy, that gets mixed in with the shopping and the holiday greetings whirlwind. Then there’s the, “I love her, she loves me not, she loves me, I can’t stand her 75 percent of the time” pantomime. That leads into who? what? where? New Year’s Eve desperation. With work and traffic, money runs and non-stop Christmas muzak, I think I’m starting to lose it. Gonna leave you to your thing and I’ll go do mine. Before I go, I’m going to give some clubs some uncle Steve advice: What “should” each club want for Christmas?

Avenue: A deep breath. 1Oak: Another year like this one. Or better– like the year before, as the recession comes to an end. Boom Boom Room/18th floor: A laugh track and a high-speed money counter. Bungalow 8: A real deal redux and a neighborhood revival. The Jane: Another chance! The Beatrice : Clarity. Rose Bar : A Basquiat and a big hug. Provocateur: Patience and humility. Simyone: Diversity to go along with all that quality, good looks and charm. Rdv: A “stay true to your school” t-shirt. Cielo: A moment away from cops and courts to concentrate on the real club side of things. Pacha: The same plus a VIP host who knows everybody in clubdom and gets them to come. Lit: A clone for Mr. Foss and a swiffer sweeper. Apotheke: More of the old (crowd) and more of the same (delicious cocktails). Greenhouse: One clear public message besides the green thing or the green thing and chain of command. Juliet: A new lighting concept and lots of fabric. Hudson Terrace: The Copacabana. The Eldridge: 25 more square feet. M2: A real good old school club night with lots of familiar faces. This place rocks when filled with good peeps. La Pomme: Time to build its own crowd. GoldBar: A gold medal for Jon “the legend” Lennon and a little more light. It’s too dark to appreciate the crowd. Marquee: Glass and maybe a once a month huge DJ and a clearing out of the furniture. Webster Hall: Convictions. Southside: Brotherly love. Ella: A little respect. Gansevoort Roof, Highbar, Empire Hotel: Eternal sunshine, endless summer. The Box: Moist towelettes and more Patrick Duffy.

Who am I to tell all these young studs what they may or may not need. But I do remember something James Brown once said: “I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know.” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Industry Insiders: Darin Rubell, Gallery Cat

Darin Rubell is transforming the Lower East Side, one arts and culture venue at a time. The owner of Gallery Bar and Ella (opened last fall with partners Josh and Jordan Boyd) is no stranger to the ins and outs of nightlife. Let’s just say it runs in the family — his cousin is legendary Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell.

How’s business? Business is great. Obviously, it’s tougher during a recession. Over the past six months, bars I initially thought were recession-proof have turned out not to be. Everyone has to work a little harder to maintain.

How have you adjusted to become recession-proof? We started a half-price happy hour at Ella. Our cocktails were normally $12, and we started a $6 Happy Hour, which has been tremendously successful. It’s every night from 6-10pm. The response has been great. We have live jazz as well.

How has the clientele at Ella changed since you opened last year? When you first open a place, you have everyone who’s keeping up with the Joneses coming in, and then as the months go on, it starts to become more neighborhood people and more people who actually like the bar. Having regulars is always nicer.

What’s the story with the piano lounge downstairs? It’s a very intimate room, holds around 60 people. We’ve had incredible musicians. Just last week, Ben Taylor — who is James Taylor and Carly Simon’s son — had a video release party, and did a live performance. We love big name bands, but we also like to find acts that are on the cusp. For instance, Diane Birch, who’s been all over the place, was doing a weekly showcase downstairs over the past four months. We have another band from Miami called Big Bounce. It’s a two-man group, with Brandon O’Hara, a guy who plays the piano, and a beat boxer. They come up to play here once a month.

What’s going on at Gallery Bar? Gallery Bar is two and a half years old now, and it’s equally as successful the date it opened until today. It’s a really diverse space, and it lends itself to a lot of different things, whether they’re corporate events, fundraisers, or charities. Every month we change the artist, so all of the art switches.

Did Gallery Bar influence the opening of Collective Hardware? The Lower East Side has always been a place where artists would go because it was very inexpensive, and then everyone started to get priced out of the neighborhood. The art side started to fade for a minute. When we came into the neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of galleries down here. After we opened the space there was a huge influx of artists. It became an artists’ hangout. Galleries in the Lower East Side started opening, slower, slower, slower. Now, I do a map also of all galleries on the LES, and I had 99 galleries for the last one. I had to limit them down to 55 for the purpose of the map. The New Museum is also a tremendous push for art down here. I think that Collective Hardware probably saw this and recognized that this is also, once again, a booming area for art.

What’s the story with your maps? I originally tried to make money off this map and I thought it’d be a great marketing tool. And I realized that it’s very difficult to get money from all the galleries, because these people are moving from other areas because they can’t afford things as is. Then I decided that I was still going to do it because I think it’s necessary, and I was sick of having people come into Gallery Bar and asking about other galleries in the neighborhood. After a month or two, I started to see people walking around the neighborhood with them. I swear to God, every day, I see somebody with that map. It’s important to try to create some unity down here. In Chelsea, all the galleries are in a three-block radius. In the Lower East Side, they’re not. I’m from New York, and I still get confused in the Lower East Side.

True that you’re thinking about expanding Gallery Bar into other cities? I think that a lot of people have tried to combine art and nightlife and have done it unsuccessfully. What they’ll do is they’ll have a dark bar, and then ask artists to put work on the walls, and it gets lost in the environment because there’s a lot going on in a bar already. The concept with Gallery Bar was to make it a gallery first. We make it look like a gallery; make it feel like a gallery; change the artists every day; have art openings; have art closings. I think that this concept has still never been done, and I’d love to bring it to other cities. We’re talking about New Orleans, L.A., Miami.

How did you meet your partners in Ella, Josh and Jordan? I was managing a restaurant called Chango, and I’d hired Josh as a bartender. When Chango started to slow down, we’d always start bouncing ideas off each other. We started writing business plans, and I, at that time, had really wanted to open up a restaurant. Josh really wanted to open up a bar. I actually opened up Mercadito, and he had opened Plan B, and about two years later, we started to think of new projects. I found this place on Orchard Street, and we thought, “Okay, now’s the time.” Josh and Jordan are brothers, and I’m like the third brother.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring restaurateurs or bar owners? I think that a lot of the people who want to get into the business of restaurants and bars have this fantasy about what it’s going to be like. You can’t just walk into it and think that because you want a place and have the money to open up a place that it’s going to succeed. I think like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of knowledge of the business in order to have success.

Besides hard work and knowledge of the business, what has made you and your partners successful? I think we genuinely love what we do, and any time you love what you do, you’re going to do well. I really believe that.

Who else does it right in nightlife? I really admire Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Their design is always so incredibly spot-on, and their properties always seem larger than life.

What are your favorite spots? I’m simple in the fact that I love Lil’ Frankie’s. I like Supper. If you can accomplish something, and make it very simple and inexpensive and for-the-people, then you’ll always be successful. I don’t really like going to the fanciest restaurants and feeling uncomfortable. I feel I’m my happiest in a place that keeps it simple.

Industry Insiders: Alan Philips & Josh Shames of Sky Group

Alan Philips and Josh Shames are founders of SKY Group and Deluxe Experience. Their clients include One Group (STK), Gerber Group (Whiskey Bar), Morgans Hotel Group (Hudson, Royalton, The Shore Club), Borgata Hotel, Brier Group (Highbar) … the list goes on.

What are your favorite places in the world? Alan Philips: Sushi of Gari. They have the freshest fish, simply and creatively prepared, in understated surroundings. I don’t think that there is anywhere you can experience something as delicious and unexpected as the salmon tomato onion sushi. Bagatelle has incredible energy and music, very New York. I recently had the pleasure of staying and experiencing the newest Morgans Hotel in Miami, Mondrian Miami. Marcel Wanders has designed a spectacular hotel that captures the surprise and whimsy that you first felt when entering the Delano 20 years ago. Josh Shames: The Box is an amazing New York experience, and I’ve never felt the energy from a nightclub that I have felt at Palladium in Acapulco, Mexico. 2000-plus people, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls over looking the Acapulco bay. As for restaurants, the China Club in Hong Kong or Il Latini in Florence, Italy, are the two of my favorite dining experiences. If I had a last meal, then it would be Don Pepe’s in Ozone Park.

Who do you admire in your industry? AP: Ian Schrager has continued to innovate for decades and maintain an individual point of view. The amount of time, energy, and commitment to your vision it takes to do what he has done is incredible. Imagine having Studio 54, Morgans Hotel Group, Palladium, Gramercy Park, and now this partnership with Marriot on your resume. Nobu Matsuhisa — he did not just create a restaurant, he created a whole other cuisine. Then he opened tons of locations that never sacrifice the quality of product. And just when you thought he was done, he kept creating new and intoxicating dishes that never cease to amaze. JS: Its cliché, but you have to mention Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager as they changed New York nightlife and the hospitality industry forever. No matter what has been done since, it has all been an extension of what they accomplished years before.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen recently in your industry? AP: I like that people have been offering more inclusive experiences. Jamie Mulholland and his team did it this year at Surf Lodge. The vision and customer experience is all-encompassing from beginning to end. The restaurant, the bar, the hotel — it all goes together and is fabulous. I believe that customers want more for their hospitality dollar, and in this economic environment, they won’t mind spending money, but the quality and excitement better be there. I don’t think there will be tolerance for products that are sub-par. Additionally, I am excited about things moving away from bottle service. I like table minimums, and I believe that this will force operators to be more creative. Great ideas come out of necessity. JS: For a while, people thought that if they opened a nightclub or lounge and put a door person outside behind ropes, their place would be filled and generate revenue. I believe people have wised up since then. Operators, owners, and investors are starting to be more creative with their venues and concepts than they were five years ago

What is something that people might not know about you? AP: I love to cook. When the family gets together, my job is to cook. JS: I am left-handed and I go to every Broadway show.

What are your staples? AP: Books are Wolf of Wall Street, Good to Great, and Outliers. Artist is Da Vinci. City is New York to live and Miami to visit. JS: Destinations are Florence, Italy, and Aruba to relax. Politicians are Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

What are you doing tonight? AP: Going to Nobu 57; I’ve been obsessed with Dover sole tempura since I got back from Miami. Then Ella to hear Brooklyn Dawn spin. JS: I never make plans that far in advance.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? AP: DVR. My girlfriend and I watch way too many shows. Lost, Sopranos, 24, Big Love, Californication, Gossip Girl, Weeds, Brothers and Sisters. Okay, this is getting embarrassing. JS: My Blackberry.

Drink of choice? AP: Patron Silver on the rocks with two limes. JS: Iced coffee in the mornings, diet raspberry Snapple during the day, and anything with ice in it at night.

Person you’re dying to party with? AP: My mom. JS: Myself. I’m always so concerned with everyone else’s experience, I forget what its like to have a good time.

What’s next in ’09? We’re developing a new web-based project called Deluxe Experiences that will launch in early 2009. I have been working on it for a year, and we are really looking forward to seeing it come to life. We are also managing an artist Brooklyn Dawn — she is a super-talented female DJ whose energy, skills, and sound are something totally different in the downtown scene. Everything she does is so genuine and exciting. Also, began a new area of our business focused on servicing our lifestyle clients and synergizing them with our hospitality clients. 2009 is going to be a very interesting year in the hospitality business, as people are definitely going to have to find new ways to make money.

Giuseppe Cipriani & Socialista’s Extended Holiday

imageA new generation of young professionals are making their way up the club ranks and will — in the not so distant future — be running things. Jonathan Schwartz comes to mind over at Strategic Group, as well as today’s girl on the spot Ms. Lindsay Luv. For a very long time, creative types were locked out of nightlife as the business boys broke down fun into pie charts and spreadsheets. For many, it was indeed the fun that broke down. Lindsay Luv is upwardly mobile, and as my good friend Voula would sometimes say: unstoppable. But before we get to Lindsay, I’d like to comment on a very big story that’s percolating around town — the “continuing closing” of Socialista.

On the surface, it seems like a minor violation from the Health Department, which would normally be handled quite routinely so people could be spilling Grey Goose on their Christian Louboutins in a matter of days. But it’s not happening, and that little not happening says a lot.

Now, I don’t pretend to know all that’s going on, but there are people hinting that there is a lot more to it, involving the Andrew Cuomo investigation on Giuseppe Cipriani and how he managed to get his liquor license despite the fact that he’s no longer qualified to have one. The cover story floated that it would put all these people out of work, and nobody wants that, etc. etc. But with Caroline Kennedy’s Senate bid floundering in a sea of “you knows,” Andrew Cuomo, the next guy in line, is dying for a headline. But Socialista can’t open, according to a pal who quoted the great Armin, “because Giuseppe can’t come back into the country, so the problem can’t be cleared up with the violation, and the club will remain closed.”

My source says that it’s not the government that Mr. Cipriani has the problem with, because he “played ball” with them. My guy says the people that were mentioned in these conversations between Cipriani and the government are not happy, and they very much want to “discuss” this matter with Cipriani in private — so he’s opted to stay far away. Now, people whisper things in my ear all the time, and often it just doesn’t make sense — but damned if this doesn’t sound real. It could be a cool movie depending on who writes the ending. Anyway, to Lindsay.

What do you do, Lindsay Luv? I’ve worked in marketing and the music business for about seven years since I moved to New York from Boston. My parents were both teachers, and I decided I wanted to go to New York and be a big music industry hustler and DJ and do all this crazy stuff, and they were like … “OK, just pay your bills.” So I came out here, and I originally wanted to do comedy writing on the side, so I worked on Chapelle’s Show the first season.

As a writer? No, I was in PR. I was doing my first internship at Comedy Central, and then I randomly got hooked up with the Raveonettes and their producers and so forth.

Tell me who the Raveonettes are. The Raveonettes are a big rock band. They were on Columbia for a number of years, and they’ve put out five or six albums now. They’re an amazing band — they’ve toured with Depeche Mode, they kind of sound like the White Stripes, and at the time they weren’t as big as they were. They’re playing at Webster Hall on Friday. I met their producer — who was the old producer from Blondie and the GoGo’s, Richard Gottehrer — and he kind of became my mentor. He was the reason I worked in music … he was this old school music producer, and he wrote the songs “I Want Candy” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” He kind of took me under his wing, and we started working on the Raveonettes. I was helping with the management team for a while. That’s how I started off in the music business, and since then I’ve worked for a number of lifestyle and marketing agencies, throwing big events in New York with top talent like Chromeo, Justice and the Raveonettes. Castles was my last big show with this agency I just worked with. So the Raveonettes kind of started me off, and then I started working for marketing agencies as a business development events-planning kind of guru … booking big talent at venues all across New York for a different brand.

So now you do Tuesday nights over at Ella, one of my favorite places — designed by Carlton Varney, an old school guy, who did the green room at the Oscars last year. And I guess he’s famous because he did Joan Crawford’s house. I’m kind of doing two halves of all these clubs. On one side I’m a resident DJ at some of these places — for example, we just got hired to be the resident DJ at Cain on Wednesdays. I’m going to be doing Saturdays at Webster Hall in the Studio, and then Tuesdays at Ella, and then a lot of other gigs are falling in between. So I’m throwing two hats — one side of it is I’m DJing these parties, and I’m promoting and hosting and all that, and the other side is that I’m actually being hired by a lot of these venues to do marketing consultation, promotional things, booking of the talents. So not only DJing the nights, but also helping them run the nights, hire the talent, and really do the whole campaign.

And what has attracted you to club business — are you in it for the money, the boys, the combination of these? I think a little bit of both. I think I just really like the hustle. I love hustling, I love just moving quickly, I love the speed of the nightlife business. I’m definitely not a daytime person, I sleep until 11 o’ clock every day. But I really like the hustle and I like the idea of traveling. Nightclubs, they’re all over the world.

So where are you going with nightclubs? Where can you go? Are you going to be an owner one day? Or PR, is that something you would do? I don’t really like PR. I hate girls in PR — PR girls are just way too girly and intense, especially the fashion PR girls. They all sit around and just squawk all day. I can’t deal with that. I think I’d like to be a nightlife entrepreneur, just opening lots of nightclubs and running the show. More on the marketing and promotional side than anything else would be my ultimate goal.

And the music industry? I would want to work with venues that are really involved in music, not venues that are just there … not that this is a bad club, but like Tenjune is a little more just about selling bottles. I like the clubs that are really focused on music. I’d really want to be booking great talent, that’s why I like it at Webster Hall.

I was surprised when I first became aware of you, which about six or seven months ago. I hit it off with you, I liked your energy, and when I started talking to people about you, trying to do my research, I found out that everybody knows who you are. You’re this girl about town, and you’re branding yourself — is that something you’re very conscious of? Very very conscious. I think that perception is reality, meaning it’s important for me to just keep my face out there. Sometimes people think I’m way more fabulous than I am; they’ll call me and ask, “Can you get me Madonna tickets?”. And it’s funny to me because a lot of it is perception, and I’m OK with that, as long as it keeps moving me in the right direction. A lot of it is reality too. I have worked with some great artists and done amazing things, and some of it is me just throwing myself out there and getting my picture up all the time, and calling people like you and just hustling hard. I’m up every day taking meetings, doing interviews, scheduling photo shoots, whatever it is I have to do to keep getting to the top.

An example of this is this interview — you were non-stop. I told you that today I’m completely booked, and then I had about 15 minutes between 2:30 and 3 p.m., and you said, “Let’s do it!” No matter what, you’re unstoppable. Yea, I remember I watched Alicia Keys’ True Hollywood Story, and I don’t want to be famous like that. It’s more that I just see the people that are really driven make it the best. I’ve had at least ten really top-trained DJs saying, “Lindsay, can you manage me? How are you getting all these gigs? You’re not as good of a DJ as me.” And I said it’s because I’m up every day, I’m hustling my shit, I know people, I work my contacts. All these people, they sit around waiting for stuff to happen, and I don’t think you can wait for anything to happen. You have to really keep on people and keep yourself out there without being obnoxious and annoying. You have to be likeable, but you have to work hard.

You’re unstoppable. I have a lot of energy. I don’t sleep. I’m probably like you — I sit up all night downloading music, listening to tunes, and making music and doing weird shit. It’s like you can’t stop for a minute in this business, or you get walked right over and somebody else is taking your spot.
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