Catching Up With Catch

The thing about Monday nights at Catch, that  EMM Group staple in the Meatpacking District, is that you could cast your line anywhere in the joint and hook a gazillionaire or stooopid-hot hottie faster than you can say "I used to do this at Butter.” Last night I went to their Monday night shin-dig, the heir of the Butter Mondays that reliably entertained us for a decade. I know I’m a little late to the game but my Mondays are reserved for Bingo and bedroom. Armed with some well-heeled friends, we were treated to fine fare and conversation. Table-hopping is the norm. I noticed the cork and sound treatment on the low-ish ceilings, put there to keep the socializing bearable to those actually trying to eat. Every table was a scene to be seen. Celebrities dined with their posses while tycoons were tycooning. Tables of beautiful girls picked at the menu.

We had traveled in a chauffeured car from Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, and noticed how dead the streets were as Manhattan has already emptied out to the fantasy playgrounds of the last-gasping summer. The bon vivants at Catch were in no rush. They truly believe that the party always starts when they get there. Every table was a success story. Every table was offered food and drink suitable to worldly tastes. This crowd was in no hurry to get elsewhere as they all knew full well that they had already arrived.

We were whisked upstairs to the roof like we were Elvis by a staff who probably could handle even that. The place was crammed with the beautiful.  I shook a lot of hands and kissed a lot of cheeks. It was deja vu…all over again. The never-ending party of the party set. The endless supply of luxury bottles. The eternal flames of the sparklers. The plush banquette, the music, the girls du jour and the girls of yore mixing it up with the swells who were spending the GNP of small countries for these females’ affections – or maybe just a minute, or three, of their time. All this while hipsters are starving in Bushwick.

It’s always the little things that tell you that management has shown the staff the way to this naughty nirvana. Like, an hour in, when I thought I had lost my jacket and a nearby security guard immediately noticed and helped me with a flashlight. He found it at the table next to mine, moved by a model type who wanted to get up there and dance and didn’t want to soil it. He assured me that I could put it down again and that he would be watching it. I believed him. I noticed a few promoter types keeping it on the low to help maintain the illusion that this was happening organically.

As the bottles popped, we were surrounded by the smiles of the party girls, the b for beautiful, but not quite campaign models so I-can-be-out-this-late girls, and the genuine grade-A bonafide girls. Our table was a spending table and I assume the one next door was an "image" table put there to assure us that we were indeed at the end of the rainbow. The six-foot Russian blond, possibly looking for that proverbial pot of gold often found at ends of rainbows, was apologizing to me for something she didn’t do. Amanda laughed at my naiveté. That girl or someone just like her is always there. She was there before she was born.

Bottle after bottle with their 4th of July-esque flares sizzled by. They moved through the crowds like Olympic torch bearers bringing expensive wheat juice to players who long ago earned their gold.  Jeroboams of champagne and their beautiful, happy, delivery systems passed by every few minutes, The sparklers lit up the ceiling, a signal for one rich suit to show off to the next and buy yet another bottle for their table of worshippers. DJ Politick was taking us all to that mindless frenzy we need to justify the love. I was told he was a DJ AM protégé. I was told he’s a big deal in LA. He was a big deal last night in NYC. I don’t usually enjoy the style of music offered by mixed-format types, but he was real smooth,and his mixes of stuff I don’t like into stuff that I love made me enjoy it all. This guy is…superior.

Catch Mondays is killing it and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys .I chatted up owners Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum who are living proof that nice guys can indeed finish first.

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.

Industry Insiders: Meet Chris Hessney, EMM Group’s VIP Manager

Celebrity sightings are just a day in the life for Chris Hessney, the VIP Manager for EMM Group and their property CATCH, one of New York’s most exclusive seafood spots. “Since CATCH is a major destination, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a celebrity or ten dining at a table near you, a model, or a business executive of a company you’re a fan of.”

But more than the sightings, it’s the little moments that keep Hessney psyched about working at the Meatpacking District restaurant. “I love watching guests’ over-the-top reactions when we set the crispy whole snapper or the Cantonese lobster on their table,” he says. “Our one-year anniversary brought in over 800 groups of guests on a Monday night, which was an absolute blast.”

Top-notch New York food and hospitality has been the mainstay of Hessney’s career, where he was maitre’d at Morimoto, and manager of The Standard Grill. And it was at The Standard in 2008 where he first met EMM co-founders Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum. “EMM was the perfect next step for me,” Hessney says. “With them, the sky’s the limit.”

Find out CATCH chef Hung Huynh’s favorite app here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter.

Industry Insiders: Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, Michael Hirtenstein, & Hung Huynh

It looks like it’s going to be a while before Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein (seated, left to right) get a vacation. While they’re already busy running such white-hot New York nightspots as Tenjune and SL, the EMM Group partners now have two exciting new restaurants to oversee. The first, Lexington Brass, is a stylish New American bistro in the Hyatt 48 hotel that serves three meals a day, seven days a week, along with signature cocktails and craft beers. The second, Catch, is poised to become nothing less than Manhattan’s seafood Mecca, with multiple levels, a glass-enclosed rooftop lounge, an outdoor terrace, and some major firepower in the kitchen courtesy of Top Chef Season 3 winner Hung Huynh (standing).

“Catch represents a dream come true,” says Remm. “It keeps our company expanding while maintaining the integrity and standards of our other properties.” The restaurant fits the Meatpacking District to a tee, while offering an experience that is at once comfortable and invigorating. “From the outside, Catch fits in with the industrial aesthetic of the neighborhood,” adds Birnbaum.  “Inside it’s such a warm, glowing space – people have raved about the interior, and, most importantly, they’ve loved the food.”  As striking as the design is, it’s the people that complete the experience. “It’s a beautiful space, and we have the staff and team to do it justice,” says Hirtenstein. But what can the dining public expect from a trio with a background in nightlife? “When we opened Abe & Arthur’s there was a lot of chatter that we were just club kids, and that we would be one-hit wonders in the restaurant world,” explains Remm. “That just motivated us to put out an exceptional product. Our food is excellent, but our client base wants more than that, and we know how to deliver it.” For his part, Executive Chef Huynh is in his element. “For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was cook, and every day I’m striving for perfection,” he says. “I turned down a lot of opportunities in search of this. This is my dream kitchen.”

Tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born, where did you grow up, and what kinds of things were you into as a kid?

Remm: I was born in Russia and immigrated with my parents, first to Queens and then to Bergen County, New Jersey, where I grew up.  I’ve always loved sports – basketball and tennis in particular.  And I’ve had a passion for music from a very early age.

Birnbaum: I was born and raised in Long Island. As a kid I liked driving go-karts and playing tennis.   And I played video games … Constantly.

Hirtenstein: I was born and raised in New York City and hope to never leave!

Huynh: I was born in Vietnam, where I lived until I was 9 years old.  I then moved to America, to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was cook.  It was the only thing that interested me. I was always cooking and eating, from the time I was five years old in Vietnam. I would cut myself every day.  

What kinds of jobs led to what you’re doing today?

Remm: I started out in public relations and promotions, working at Harrison & Schriftman here in New York. From there I went on to work at Midnight Oil, where I was the promotions coordinator for their properties.  I then landed at B.R. Guest Restaurant Group where I was lead of promotions and operations for Level V, among other spaces.  It was after that that I joined forces with Mark to form EMM Group and open our first club, Tenjune.   

Birnbaum: While in college, I ran a club in Ithaca, New York.  I also promoted parties in NYC from the time I was 17 years old to roughly 22.  I tried my hand in insurance but left at age 23 to return to nightlife, opening my first club in 2002 and starting EMM Group with Eugene in 2005, when we pitched W Hotels for the bar deal at the then-under-development W Hotel in Hoboken, New Jersey.   

Hirtenstein: My background is in telecommunications and real estate – which I still do to this day.  I came to know Mark and Eugene as they were first making a name for themselves in hospitality.  I knew they were on their way to building an empire so when I was invited to be a part of it I happily came on board.  

Huynh: When I came to America my parents had a restaurant – I started working there, washing dishes, when I was 9 years old.  Then I started filleting fish and slowly getting acquainted with all aspects of the kitchen.

Tell me about Lexington Brass and Catch. Where did the idea to open them come from, and what was the process like? Do they represent a dream you’ve had for a long time? 

Remm:   With Lexington Brass and Catch we sought to add something new and different both to the hospitality landscape and to our own company portfolio.  We don’t want a customer coming into Abe & Arthur’s one night, and then feeling as though they don’t need to check out Lexington Brass or Catch.  Lexington Brass is a three meal period bistro and Catch is a seafood restaurant with a raw bar. Each place offers a different experience, but with the same standards of service.  With Catch in particular, we saw the space open up seven months after opening Abe & Arthur’s.  We love the Meatpacking District,  we work here, we live here, and we knew there wasn’t a seafood restaurant of note in the neighborhood.  We wanted to bring in something different.

Birnbaum:  Lexington Brass and Catch are very different from each other – Lexington Brass is a 100-seat brasserie on the ground floor corner of the new Hyatt hotel  in midtown that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.  Catch is a much bigger operation – three floors, 275 seats, a glass-enclosed rooftop lounge and outdoor terrace.  We jumped on both spaces as soon as they were presented to us.  We knew they were the perfect locations for us to create new concepts and expand without having to get on an airplane to do it.   

Are you having fun?

Remm:  I Love what I do. I get to spend my days working with my best friends and colleagues, with all of us working towards the same goal.  We’re willing to take enormous financial risks to keep doing what we do.  There are always challenges – I encounter something new every day.

Birnbaum: Lots of fun! If we didn’t love what we did it would be impossible to do this job.  The things I enjoy most are working with ICRAVE to design and build out new spaces, and brainstorming with our team to come up with original concepts for people to enjoy.  The biggest hurdle has been dealing with community boards and finding the perfect spaces.   

Hirtenstein: Yes I’m having a great time.  My background is in telecommunications and my other current endeavors focus mainly on real estate, so anything having to do with EMM Group is a nice change of pace – I enjoy being a part of this world. 

What do you do to relax when you’re not working?

Remm: Music is my passion. I have a DJ booth in my apartment and it’s something I take real pleasure in doing. I love to work out. Boxing and spinning at Flywheel are so therapeutic to maintain a balance with all that we have going on.

Birnbaum: I love to travel when I can – and I try to unwind a little during the summers and enjoy weekends with friends at our house in the Hamptons.   

Hirtenstein: I am extremely active –a healthy lifestyle is important to me.  I swim, golf, play tennis – I love it all.  I also love to travel and like to escape to unwind.

What’s the secret to your success? What advice would you give to a young restaurateur or chef?

Remm:  There’s no blueprint for success in this town – the landscape is constantly changing.  I think we’ve managed to do what we’ve done based on an unwavering commitment to consistency and attention to detail.  

Birnbaum: Take your time in developing any new concept – make sure you have the menu and the service on point before opening.  Also, if you’re opening your first place, find a manageable space, nothing too big with too large an overhead.  A great location is also essential.

Huynh: There is no secret to success, but every day I try to improve and get better.  My words to a young chef would be that this is not glamorous, this is nothing like TV.  Put your head down, work hard, be dedicated, and work your way up.  In a kitchen, there are a million things that could go wrong with each dish you put out. Every time I show up to work there’s a new challenge to address, but it’s part of the excitement.

[Photo: Brett Moen]

Eugene Remm & Mark Birnbaum’s June 10th Was Better Than Yours

Whenever the 10th of June rolls around I always think: I know this date so well, but how? Cue David Lynch-esque deja-vu music while I think about past lives until I realize, Oh, it’s Tenjune. Right. Eugene Remm & Mark Birnbaum‘s Svedka Vodka Adult Playground 2033 was last night, at Abe & Arthurs—not at Tenjune, because my head would’ve exploded as that very date happens to be both of their birthdays. I’m not sure how I managed to get invited to the club impresarios’ joint birthday jam, what with the likes of Kim Kardashian and DJ Cassidy on the personal guestlist, but it was enough to remind me that I have a lot more to accomplish in my life to deserve a birthday party the size of one called ‘Adult Playground,’ and a lot more to accomplish before my name makes it to the party recap list next to attendees like Whitney Port and Tyson Beckford, and even more to accomplish before Mark and Eugene actually invite me to their soiree. Themselves. Anyway, hopefully all of that happens before 2033, like the Svedka sponsors suggest, but for now, I am just happy I got to see (if not be seen) celebrations for such iconic industry as like Remm and Birnbaum.

Kim was one of those guests who the PR mavens didn’t get a chance to announce was coming, because she just casually popped in to say hello to Mark and Eugene, and to see Jason Derulo, Iyaz, and Chris Willis perform. A couple of other industry insiders were present as well: Sam Nazarian of SBE (and ex to Kristin Cavalari) and real estate heir Matt Moinian, along with Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva were all present to wish the boys well. Guests enjoyed dinner the way only Abe & Arthur’s and Svedka could produce, with fare that included Svedka Mango Tiramisu with Chocolate Lady Fingers dessert. Happy birthday E&M! Thanks for sort of inviting me! image image image

Photos: Wireimage and Startraksphoto.com

For NYC’s Most Talented DJs, It’s Always 4AM

4 AM is a way of life for thousands of people in nightlife. It is the traditional time that liquor-hawking establishments in NY state must stop selling the booze. Some places have been restricted lately to 2 AM licenses. I wonder if a place that has a 2 AM license could ring up sales on a customer’s card and his liquor could be served and enjoyed until 4:30? I’m going to find out. Although nothing can be sold after 4 AM in our clubs, bottle service has allowed the party to go on for at least another half hour. This means the service employees who make everything possible still need to hang around. One person who can’t go home is the DJ. At this time of the night it’s his job to wind things down so that the patrons can leave quietly. Adam Alpert, Jon Lennon and Jus-Ske have formed a DJ management company, the aptly titled “4am.” I met up with Adam and Jon while we connected with the touring DJ Jus-Ske via the wonders of modern technology. I’ll continue with Jus tomorrow, today Alpert and Lennon have the floor.

Give me and overview. Adam Alpert: 4AM is “4 Artist Management”. That’s what time NYC closes, as opposed to Philly, DC, Boston, LA which close at 2. The partners are myself, Jon Lennon, and Jus-Ske. DJ management is a recent trend.

But Judy Weinstein and tons of others have been doing DJ management since back in the day. AA: Back in the days of Spa and Life, Steve, you usually called a DJ directly.

This is true it was only the large floor or really famous guys who had a manager. Social/Mashup DJs generally don’t have management—outside of Yoni Goldberg’s stable. He handles a number of the best DJ’s around. AA: there are VERY talented people working the best events/clubs in NYC but are not getting marketed on a national/international level. Jon Lennon: Adam and I have been building the careers of DJ simply based on need, bringing them to events in Philly, LA, SF and thus making them irreplaceable to us.

Jon, you are the face of GoldBar and Adam you are the promotional director of 1Oak. You have been hiring many DJ’s in these high profile places, sometimes breaking their careers in NY and then you have booking them in other cities as well. Am I right that, up until now, there hasn’t been a cohesive plan in terms of their careers. AA: Yes, that’s our company’s purpose. This talented family of DJs are all friends, even though they are competitors they like working together. We wanted to take the help we’ve been giving them and organize it, turn it into a movement. We are a family.

So there is a group of DJs without management who have reached premium level, like DJ Sinatra who has paid his dues, but isn’t getting his due. AA: Young DJs have to be out there grinding for themselves, promoting themselves, calling owners. With our friends and relations around the world it was a win-win situation. It makes sense to secure our best DJs with gigs and fame. JL: I was working for Deckstar and Adam and Jus wanted to start an agency. I was the NY exec of Deckstar, a company that also wanted to open a NY agency. The two would’ve been in direct competition, but now we have a bridge to LA and they have one to NY.

So you are partners with NY Deckstar? AA: I like to say we have a strategic alliance.

image

Tell me the names of some of the DJ’s in 4am’s roster. JL: Ani Quinn, DJ Vitale, DJ Price, DJ Phresh, DJ Sal Marole, DJ Orazio Rispo, Jus-Ske, Suss One, DJ Theory. They are all of the ‘open format’ style, except Orazio, he’s House. AA: In NY there have grown to be a lot of DJ—based nights Sunday at Goldbar, Tuesday at 1Oak—where you’ll have 5 DJs in the booth and 25 more in the crowd. Its’ a culture of camaraderie, and we wanted to organize these guys together.

When does an agency become a union? Because right now a DJ has to pay you a percentage. Your stated goal is to make DJs money, raising fees. Why wouldn’t a club go out, like I did, to find the next young stud? AA: Cause they aren’t good enough and don’t bring people.

Many DJs, basically all of them— Frankie Knuckles, David Morales—all started out as no-names at clubs that were known as venues with good music. Everyone gets there first gig. I started countless DJs, developed them, gave them higher profile spots, until the whole world clamored for them. JL: I’m from that school. My two biggest DJs were Jesse Marco and Cassidy, who I took a risk on when they had no name.

If the prices become too high, the owner will go back to the old way. However, this current crop of owners are more administrative, not from the streets and wouldn’t necessarily recognize a good new DJ. AA: Any kid can get a laptop and Serrato can call themself a DJ. It’s not like the old days where you had to buy vinyl. Being the new young kid DJ is like being a starving artist. You have to grind, call owners, promote. So every young DJ in NYC has emailed me saying “Will you rep me?” Because we have those connections. JL: On my Facebook, all day its DJs from around the world.

In the old days it was harder, Record Pool, Judy Weinstein’s management company, would distribute new tracks to 200 DJs nationally. Those DJs would have the latest greatest version. So other DJs who didn’t have the latest greatest, newest mix were considered second class. Now, with the internet, you can’t control who gets that kind of access as easily. Everybody gets everything. AA: Correct

You two work at specific clubs. Why would a rival club use you guys? AA: Because we have 12 DJs and we’re friendly with everyone in this industry. Outside of OAK, I work with Satsky in the Hamptons, Noah in Miami on New Years. These guys at other clubs are some of my best friends, who would’ve booked these DJs anyway. This has got nothing to do with 1Oak. We’re friends with everybody, every owner, every promoter. Mark Birnbaum and Eugene as well. Everyone has a different clientele. There are enough clubs and gigs and nights to go around.

How about out of state gigs? AA: Another thing I’d like to mention are the secondary, or nontraditional markets. Butter in North Carolina has the “I Heart NY DJ” series. Every Thurs a 4AM DJ flies down to Charlotte to DJ there. Now people are going out on Thursday nights there.The people in Charlotte haven’t heard anything like this before, its like night and day. Charlotte is the 25th biggest city in the US. JL: 10 of 12 of the 4AM Djs work at 1Oak and 8 of 12 work at Goldbar. We’ve sent DJs to Miami and they stop in Charlotte. Bring an LA DJ to New York City and he flops, but bring a NY DJ to LA and they’re calling him back for double.

Aspiring 4AM DJs and clubs can find out more about the talent pool at 4am.tv.

Industry Insiders: Cole Bernard & Jason Lawrence, Cupcake Clubsters

The guys who brought you the beer-swilling sporty, fratty funhouse Porky’s, as well as the posh and exclusive Eldridge, are on the precipice of adding two more haunts to Manhattan’s repertoire. Amidst a year where the deafening sound of local shops and staple nightspots permanently closing their doors was heard citywide, Cole Bernard and Jason Lawrence of Status Nightlife have been working tirelessly and ambitiously, to open not one, but two new doors. Jason just made Gotham magazine’s list of 100 Hottest Eligible Bachelors, so the ladies have the opportunity to check him out whilst sinking their teeth into some liquor-laced cupcakes at new spot, Red Velvet; but not without stopping by The Yard first to watch the boys at the bar watching the boys on the field on giant flatscreens.

What’s up with your new spots? Cole Bernard: We have two new spaces. One’s in the Flatiron District, opening Halloween weekend. It’s called The Yard. It’s the former Porky’s space. The other is called Red Velvet, which will open at the end of the month as well. It’s on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side. Jason Lawrence: The Yard is an evolution of a New York high-energy, spirited, fun nightlife party bar. We brought a well-known artist in to do some interior cosmetic work. We’ll focus on a lot of happy hour stuff and then lead into nightlife. CB: We have a great lineup for Halloween weekend to launch the space. It’ll be decorated in multiple murals done by Darren Boerckel. Also designing is Steve Lewis, and he’s amazing.

How do you draw inspiration for a new nightclub? CB: With The Yard space, Darren has been on board with me though the last couple projects. So, I gave him the name and the goals I wanted to reach and said, “Darren, run with it.” He can paint the lights out of any place. JL: With Red Velvet, it was more drawn from us loving the area. We love the Lower East Side. It’s hot; it’s vibrant. It’s very in and yet still very up-and-coming. There are artists and galleries and restaurants and nightlife, and then real estate destroys the area. We thought it was a great area to make our stamp on. That’s what we intended when we opened The Eldridge, and that’s what Red Velvet will capture as well. Conceptually, we had the image of a very sexy, intimate lounge. We wanted high energy, high spirited, but we also wanted to add a little twist. We decided to partner up with Baked By Melissa and Charlotte Voisey, the famous mixologist, to come up with some spirit-inspired cupcakes for the lounge.

How did you two become partners? JL: I owned a PR firm in Miami when we were introduced. CB: Jason and I kind of have the same mindset. We see what the business is all about. We understand that it’s about creating a brand where people can come any day of the week.

Describe the prospective clientele at these new venues. CB: The Yard is going to be a mix of your neighborhood folks to your party bar crowd to your NYC night clubbers. It’s a place where you can go after work to unwind, have a beer and a burger. Then, on Friday and Saturday night, it’s a fun, high-energy bar where you can have a good time and get loose. JL: Bring your birthday group out. Bring your bachelor/bachelorette party out. Get a little wild

What are your door policies? CB: The Eldridge, which we opened in September of 2008, has been a great success. It’s a small space, so we do limit the amount of people that come in. Naeem Delbridge keeps a great flow and runs the door really well. Everyone from your models to your socialites to your downtown hipsters comes. Eldridge is a great space, and that’s why we want to continue the success that we have had on the LES with Red Velvet, which is just a block down. JL: Red Velvet will be far less pretentious. I want it to be more inviting to locals. If there are couples in the area that read about Red Velvet and want to check it out and come down for a cupcake, they’re not going to get stress at the door. I want to share the space and the experience with as many people as we can. The space will dictate. There will be times when it will be a little more difficult to get in because my capacity is 120, and I can’t let everyone in. That being said, I want a lot of people to have the Red Velvet experience. CB: But do expect a stricter door policy on busier nights.

How is it that you’re popping open two new clubs during a recession? JL: Denial helps a lot. CB: My theory on the recession, in any business — especially in nightlife — whether it’s a high-end sports bar, a nightclub, or just a hole-in-the-wall dive bar, you have to give people a reason to come. You have to create a niche product and a brand that gives the customer a reason to want to come out and spend money. Both places are designed and catered to individual customers to give them an experience they’ll remember.

What do you do for fun? JL: Work is fun to me. My lifestyle is fun to me. I try to keep a good balance between the social aspect, the family, and the friends. CB: Opening two spaces at once pretty much took over my life. I’d say, hitting events, going out to dinner and drinks with friends, going to the movies, the usual stuff. Is there a lot of time for that? No, but I try to find time for it.

Are you single? CB: I’m single and mingling. JL: I’m seeing someone.

Does being a club owner make it easier to score with the ladies? CB: Obviously, it’s an advantage. But it’s a lot to handle when you have girls flocking your way. When people ask me what I do in the spaces, sometimes I tell them I’m a bathroom attendant. I don’t like the ownership role. But yes, it does give the single guy an advantage

Long-term goals? JL: I want to expand to other markets and other cities and continue to build the brand. I’d also like to continue to build my relationship with Cole and other people we bring on board. I want to keep creatively coming up with ideas that work and bring longevity. CB: Jason hit it right on the nail. I want to bring Status Nightlife Group to a recognized brand. I want to start a family sometime in my mid-thirties, so that’s in the back of my head.

What does it really take to open and maintain a nightclub in New York? CB: New York’s a tough market. There are so many places. It’s not just, “Hey I’m gonna invest a half a million dollars or a million dollars to open a place and just crush it.” Five years ago? Yes, when the economy was booming. Now there’s so much competition, you really need to bring a concept and bring in operations. You need to bring the whole nine to the table with you. JL: If your ego’s driving you, you’re going to have big problems. This is a business that’s built on relationships, trust, and experience. It takes a lot of different people on your team to make anything successful. Fortunately, I have a good team, and creatively, we click. CB: For The Yard and Status Group, we brought on Amanda Mitchell of Southern Hospitality PR. She focuses on The Yard and on Jason and me personally. Then there’s Matt Hein of East Side PR. JL: Matt used to run BNC and Harrison & Shriftman. He brings a lot of experience and know-how. The bottom line is: we trust these people. They have our best interests at heart.

What are your go-to places in New York? CB: I’m a big fan of La Esquina, Macondo, and Apizz. JL: My good friend Eugene Remm opened Abe and Arthur’s, so I’ve got to give him a plug. I like our spots. The key to our success is that we create environments that we like to participate in and I think that’s crucial. You have to be able to have fun in your own environment.