Topless Drinking: Help CATCH Roof Serve Cocktails Under the Stars

Some people will tell you that you can’t see stars in New York City. This is false. You can indeed see stars, and not just in some metaphorical celebrity sense. The sky might never look like it did that time you slept with the bushmen in the Outback, but on a clear night in Manhattan, you’ll see more stars than you can count. The Big Dipper. Orion. Ursa Major. Maybe even a planet. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see those celestial bodies with a well-crafted cocktail in your hand and a plate of sashimi before you on the lovely outdoor patio of CATCH Roof in the Meatpacking District. But for this to happen, CATCH needs your help.

The thing is, the EMM Group, which owns the restaurant CATCH, as well as its rooftop lounge, needs the approval of Community Board 2 to serve liquor on the outdoor patio of CATCH Roof (they’re currently only approved for the indoor part of the roof). If the community board approves this request, the space will be turned into a full-time sushi lounge, with indoor and outdoor seating. The EMM Group is only asking to use the outdoor liquor license until midnight.
 
Most BlackBook readers tend to be enthusiastic fans of nightlife, and will likely be inclined to side with CATCH in its efforts to bring a new level of outdoor drinking to the neighborhood. It’s not a hard sell with this crowd. And we’re certainly fans, having only recently had an amiable chat with CATCH Roof manager Greg Bach. (And it seems like only yesterday we interviewed EMM Group partners Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein – as well as CATCH chef Hung Huynh.) But it’s important to address the concerns of the Community Board.
 
This is not a group of curmudgeons looking to turn Manhattan into some kind of dry city like Lynchburg, Tennessee. They’re well aware of the value–both economic and creative–that the neighborhood’s status as an epicenter of high-end nightlife has brought. But they live here, and are tasked with creating a balance between the nightlife industry (which has all but replaced the packing of meat) and residents who have to wake up in the morning, get their kids to school on time, and hustle to their jobs. 
 
The Meatpacking District wouldn’t be the same if nobody actually lived there, if it was a nightlife-only destination. It feels good because of its human element, its walkable streets and affable shopkeepers. Mayberry it’s not, but it’s as much a community as any other in lower Manhattan, and well worth protecting. 
 
But I believe a balance can be achieved, and if you agree, click on over and sign the petition. You can even show up at the meeting to offer your support. It’s on Thursday, May 10 at 6:30 pm in the lower hall of St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151-155 Sullivan Street. CATCH Roof is one of the nicest new nightspots to open in the area in a long time, and it would be a shame not to be able to venture outside and feel the breeze on a warm summer night.
 
If the license is granted, try to be a considerate drinker. Instead of shouting and carrying on like some kind of lager lout, sip your cocktail, gaze up at the sky, and try to count the stars. It’s a beautiful universe and we’re a very small part of it, but important all the same.

Industry Insiders: Greg Bach, Raising the Roof

With his artistic background, Greg Bach brings a creative sensibility to his duties overseeing two of New York’s hottest nightspots, CATCH Roof and SL, as well as Hamptons favorite SL East. And as the weather continues to improve, the EMM Group general manager is busier than ever taking care of guests who often line up down the block to experience the beauty, elegance, and laid-back sophistication of the venues he represents. We caught up with Bach to get the scoop on how he keeps his cool amid the clamor. 

What prepared you for working in the hospitality world?
I grew up in Westchester, New York and went to FIT. I was an artist. I feel like art and operations, which I’m doing now, go hand-in-hand. You have to be able to see key elements, understand space, and make sure everything is always on-point. It’s intellectual too, because your visual intellect continues to evolve, especially when working on a nightclub. 
 
How did you get involved with working in nightlife?
I’ve always loved to go out. A good friend of mine was a nightclub manager, and he introduced me to a ton of people. I started working in retail and then I was asked to become a manager. Soon after, we opened SL, and I was invited to work there on my days off. Eventually, I started working on the weekdays, and then they made me manager of SL full-time. I worked my way up. I grew there, and now, three years later, I’m running SL, as well as CATCH Roof and SL East. 
 
What exactly is your title and your responsibilities at CATCH Roof?
I’m general manager. Our team works to make sure that everything—from the second you get out of the elevator and walk in— is on point. We make sure your table’s clear, your waitress is there hanging out with you and pouring you drinks, your bus boys are clearing your empty glasses, security is always in place. As a team, we act as hosts—every manager does. The success of CATCH Roof has really been the team effort—how we work as a family and how we all spend so much time working so hard, making sure being at Roof is the best experience you can have. 
 
It’s that kind of service that makes people respond to the place. 
Our company’s success has been a result of the effort and hard work of talented people working together, never just one person. No one should ever claim the fame or be that one person to say, you know, “Pay attention to me.” No matter who you are when you visit, you’ll feel like a VIP. It’s our model and it ensures great service for everyone.
 
What’s an average night like at CATCH Roof? 
It varies. Every night has its own identity. Monday nights are our cool industry nights, when artists and celebrities come in. It’s an experience. Wednesday are like a New York insiders night. Thursdays are an eclectic mix. Fridays we have our house music night, which attracts a great crowd. Saturday nights are a little bit of everything. CATCH restaurant really drives everything. The restaurant is number one on OpenTable, so it’s really successful. People come to our restaurant, have this great experience, and want to go someplace afterward. And at CATCH, you have this great place upstairs that’s just as amazing as the restaurant and the food. People go up there for the views, the cocktails, the music, and the great crowd. It’s cozy, never too packed, never too crazy, and people just enjoy themselves. 
 
Since you’re running CATCH Roof and SL and SL East, you must be running between the Hamptons and Manhattan all the time. What does SL East have planned for the summer? What kind of venue is it and what’s it like running it?
Last year was such a success, so we’re looking to continue it and bring it into this summer. It’s a great space, we’ll have some amazing DJs in there. It’ll be a great time – I don’t see it being anything else. When it comes to quality, we don’t vary. All our venues we build consistently, so if you have a great time at one EMM Group club, you’ll have a great time at the next one and the next one. It’s just an extension of our family and what we’re doing.
 
When you’re not busy working with SL, SL East, and CATCH Roof, what do you do to relax? 
I enjoy working. I really love what I do. I work a lot of hours, a lot of days, so when I do have time off, I like to work out, go to museums, go see movies. Nothing crazy. My working life’s crazy so I like to take the time I have to myself to go to a nice relaxing dinner—something that’s easy and not too hectic.
 
You’re combining exciting nightlife with an actual career, and a lot of people would love to do what you do. Are there any secrets to the trade that you would give some younger person asking for advice?
As long as you love what you do, you’re gonna be good at it. If you’re doing something that you’re not truly happy with, it’s not for you. I truly do love what I do more than anything. If you don’t really enjoy what you do, make a change so that you don’t become 40-something years old and miserable doing something you hate.  I’m always meeting new people, and I’m someone who wants to learn every day. You get all walks of life in this business, and that’s what makes me love my job.