This Week’s Miami Happenings: Film Festival, Good Mondays In Haven, DWNTWN Concert Series

FRIDAY: Miami International Film Festival Begins
The 30th anniversary of the Miami International Film Festival for showcasing Ibero-American cinema in the U.S. kicks off this Friday with director Morgan Neville’s documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom. The 10-day festival will include a number of special events and competitions, like the Career Achievement Tributes to Swedish writer-director Lasse Hallström and Spanish producer, writer, and Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba.

Miami International Film Festival is taking over Miami this Friday, March 1st at various locations. For tickets and information, check outthe official website.

MONDAY: Good Mondays in Haven
The weekly “Good Mondays” party at Haven feature DJ Damaged Goods and his rotating group of guests spinning old-school hip-hop and dance starting at 9pm. The drinks are good, but the visuals of the non-corporal variety displayed in the hi-def lounge are even better.

Good Mondays are happening weekly at Haven (1237 Lincoln Rd., South Beach.) For details, read the listing in BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Spring Break Beats in Concerts
The beloved turntable maestro DJ Irie kicks off spring break with other special guests at the DWNTWN Concert Series. This free festival at Bayfront Park will include a food truck frenzy, an arts and crafts vendor showcase, and the Heineken Beer Garden.

The DWNTWN Concert Series is happening on Friday at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown). For additional information visit the official website.

Find out first about the latest openings and events in NYC by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the email brought right to your inbox every Monday. And download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

This Week’s New York Happenings: Reynard, Lucky Strike Lanes, Sanctuary Ultra Lounge

WEDNESDAY: Dinners With Benefits
Andrew Tarlow’s Nouveau American hit Reynard is bringing more star power to the house. Starting this Wednesday, food and wine friends will be staying over (there’s the whole Wythe Hotel attached to the restaurant after all) to pitch in on fine dining in an event known as "Dinner With Friends." This week’s collaborative dinner sees chef Chris Fischer of Martha’s Vineyard joining forces with Andrew Mariani of Sonoma’s Scribe Winery. Lobster and bone marrow, anyone?
Dinner With Friends at the Wythe Hotel launches Wednesday night at Reynard (80 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg). Meals are $125 and include wine pairings, with seatings this week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

If you’ve got the itch to scratch, get yourself down to Lucky Strike Lanes for a Tuesday night throwdown. Competitors will be picked at random for pointers from Scratch DJ Academy, followed by judging from turntable pros. Bulldog will be pouring free gin.
Check-in for the contest is between 7pm and 8pm tomorrow night at Lucky Strike (624-660 W. 42nd St., Midtown West). To learn more about the bowling alley, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SUNDAY: Sports Haven
The Sanctuary Hotel celebrates Super Bowl Sunday by kicking off their new sports lair: Sanctuary Ultra Lounge. Sibling spot HAVEN hosts a tailgate on the roof. Russian Standard models (and vodka) accompany the game downstairs.
Sanctuary Ultra Lounge (132 W. 47th St., Midtown West) opens Sunday, February 3rd. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Find out first about the latest openings and events in New York by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the email brought right to your inbox every Monday. And download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

Industry Insiders: Brandon Freid, Vice President, Impulsive Group; President, Sanctuary Hotel

Brandon Freid has worked the front desk, been a concierge, and developed new properties like the Sanctuary Hotel in New York. This background suits him at Impulsive Group, a major player in the rapidly evolving hospitality landscape. “We have anything from a young hipster hotel to a four-star hotel with five-star service,” he says of the company’s properties. I chatted with Freid at Haven, the Sanctuary’s gorgeous rooftop bar, to get the lowdown on his busy life in the hotel world—and enjoy a pretty pink cocktail.

Where did you grow up? What kind of stuff were you into as a kid?

I was born in Melville, Long Island. I went to junior high and high school there, and then I went to college at the University of Miami, where I graduated in 2001. Ever since I was young, besides playing a lot of sports, I’ve always been involved in working with my father [longtime hotelier and CEO of Impulsive Group Hank Freid] with hotels. I’ve done everything from demolition—which is fun when you’re a kid—to construction, to concierge, to the front desk, to sales trips. I’ve run the gamut as far as the hotel industry is concerned. I’ve done acquisitions for some of our properties. For example, I found the Sanctuary property several years ago, purchased it, and hired the designer. I’m involved with hiring all the contractors for everything from the architecture to the design to the construction teams. I have my hands in everything.

Is that just for this property or are you that hands-on for all the Impulsive Group properties?

It’s for all of Impulsive Group. Sanctuary was really my baby, my first hotel, well as Haven, the rooftop restaurant and bar. I was really completely hands-on with this project, but I’ve been involved with every Impulsive Group hotel.

Which hotels are those?

We have the Ameritania Hotel which is on 54th and Broadway. And then we have some on the Upper West Side. We have a Moroccan themed hotel called Marrakech. We have another hotel called Broadway. So we have anything from a young hipster hotel to a 4-star hotel with 5-star service. We have two yachts that we use for charter. One’s based in Miami, in the Caribbean. And the other one is in the Mediterranean, in the South of France.

So you’ve grown up in the industry.

I really have. From day one I’ve had a hammer in my hand, and now I’m in a tie and I’m up in Haven, our latest venue, making sure that it’s running properly, that the food’s great, the drinks are great, that the atmosphere is what it should be.

What exactly is your job title? It sounds like you do just about everything, but what’s an average day like for you, if there is such a thing?

I’m involved with the overall umbrella company, which is the Impulsive Group. I’m the Vice President of Impulsive Group. So I’m in contact with all five hotels on a daily basis. And on a weekly basis I visit every hotel. I’m constantly meeting with the general managers of each property to get updated on what’s going on. I’m also the President of Sanctuary Hotel. I oversee everything from hiring the general manager to the front desk employees, and making sure that the service is great. You know, we have 111 rooms here, and with 111 rooms you are able to really provide service above and beyond, because we don’t have 500 or 1000 rooms. We know every guest that comes in and out of this hotel. We know what they like, what they don’t like, and we really cater to their needs. When Haven opened in the summer, my hours of work got extended. Before, I was up at 6:30 in the morning and I was getting home around 8. Now I’m not getting home until like 11 or midnight, I’m sleeping for a few hours, and then I’m back here again.

Do you have a specific type of guest that you try to target with Sanctuary and Haven?

Sanctuary and Haven are both located in Midtown Manhattan, which is really the center of corporate America as well as tourism. It’s the number one tourist destination in the United States. So during the week we’re heavy with our corporate business and on the weekends we have a lot of tourism. So we have a very big differentiation between the two.

It sounds like you have a pretty fun job.

It’s a great job. I’m not complaining.

Is there anything you don’t particularly enjoy about it?

I almost don’t consider it work, because I love what I do. I was just away for two weeks in Europe and I was looking forward to coming back. I couldn’t be any happier being here today than I was in South of France on a yacht yesterday.

Do you have a secret to your success?

I think that the only way to ever own and develop and properly manage hotels is to experience doing the positions of front desk agent, the housekeeping department, reservations, being a manager, being a GM, and so on. You have to know what to expect from those people and the only way to know that is to have been in those positions before. So I’ve been there and I’m able to really identify what those positions entail and what they require.

Have you ever worked in hotels under other companies?

I did when I was in college, when I was in the University of Miami. While I was in New York, I pretty much always worked beneath my father.

What did you study in college?

I studied Business Management.

Do you think going to college is important in your industry?

I do. I don’t think that it’s absolutely necessary because there are people who have succeeded without it, but I think it does help and it does broaden your horizons. And it’s always smart to go out of your element, from wherever you’re from, for a few years and experience life somewhere else.

Do you have any future plans?

(Laughing) Yeah, I’m young. A lot more hotels.

Anything specific in the near future?

I am looking at acquiring another hotel. I really can’t say more than that right now, though.

My pretty pink cocktail arrives.

What drink did you get?

This is the Aura.

I created that drink. It’s a great drink. It’s got muddled raspberry, mint leaves, simple syrup, and a half a squeeze of lemon. I love gin. This one’s made with Bombay Sapphire.

It’s delicious. [It really is.]

I think it’s great that that’s the drink you ordered.

Are you very involved with the menu here?

I am. I had the chef make me three things that I have no interest in eating right now, because I want to know how they look and what they taste like before they go on the menu. I taste every drink and every food item before it’s served to customers.

Did you have a hand in the decor as well?

Every single piece of it. I completely designed everything here, from the cedar that wraps around there, the reclaimed lumber in the ceiling–I went to Brooklyn to find it–to the umbrellas, to the tables, to the cushions.

Do you do that solo or do you work with a team?

We do it as a team at Impulsive Group. But these days I’m really the person in charge of finding it and making it happen, and I bounce my ideas off them.

Do you work a lot with your father?

I do.

Is that a smooth relationship?

I have a very unique relationship with my father where we’re best friends. We have a great work relationship, as far as partners. It’s great because we have five hotels and we’re able to both be in different places. He’s able to shine where he shines and I’m able to shine where I shine. It’s great to have another person you can trust to work with, but who will have a different opinion and sees things a little bit differently than you do.

What are the areas that you shine in as opposed to him?

He happens to be very, very good in the management. And I’m more of the creative, construction, visionary person. And I spearhead the acquisitions.

Have you thought about expanding outside of New York?

I have. And we’ve looked many times. At this point we just haven’t found the right opportunity. But I do plan on doing it. I would probably go into a major city like Los Angeles, Miami, or Chicago.

What do you do to unwind when you have time off?

I like to work out. I play tennis. I love hanging out with my friends and seeing my family.

Do you travel a lot?

I travel quite often. For me, Miami’s always an easy two-hour run on a plane, so I’m there a lot. Or California. I’d say I’m there four times a year. And every summer I travel to Europe.

Is there anything else I should know about you or your venues?

Yes. Try some food. You have to try the tuna and you have to try the crab.

A Tuna Tower and the Crab and Avocado Palette suddenly appear on the low wooden table before me.

Do you like crab?

I do.

Jump in there.

That’s delicious. [It really is.] 

The food’s good right?

Yes it is. Is it mostly seafood based?

No, it’s French-American cuisine. We have a great cajun chicken dish. We have a steak. We do have other fish though. We have a tilapia. We have a salmon. It’s light and fresh. That is also, I think, one of the things that makes the Haven Rooftop stand out – our food. We have two chefs and they really execute and we have a ridiculous menu.

Do you get a lot of outside customers at Haven or is it predominantly hotel guests?

I’ll tell you where we get the most, and honestly it’s our best publicity – our neighbors. All these tall buildings around us. That’s Fox right there. The glass building over there behind you is Morgan Stanley. And they all are taller than us, so they look down on us and were watching us build. Look around – it’s all people in suits that are well dressed–these aren’t tourists. I don’t want to stare at them, but if you look, they’re actually all working in the neighborhood and they’re coming here after work to blow off some steam and have a few drinks. I love that they’re my clientele.

It probably ensures a regular crowd too.

It does. But you have to give them great service. You have to give them great food and great cocktails, otherwise they’ll just go somewhere else. I mean it is New York. Survival of the fittest. Do you want to try something else? Another cocktail?

Before I can respond, a plate of the aforementioned Cajun chicken arrives. Freid turns to a couple of friends at a nearby table and grins.

How’d I do with the interview, guys?

Tom Cruise Film Premiere Postponed, ‘Family Guy’ & Other Shows Pulled In Wake Of Newtown Massacre

The premiere of Jack Reacher, a new action film starring Tom Cruise, has been rescheduled and several networks have pulled episodes of shows in the wake of Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 28 people dead, including 20 young children.

Yesterday, Paramount Pictures postponed the premiere of Jack Reacher set to take place in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, because of the tragedy. The film stars Cruise as a detective who hunts down a sniper killer who murders five people.   

Here is a statement released by Paramount: Due to the terrible tragedy…and out of honor and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken, we are postponing tomorrow’s Pittsburgh premiere of Jack Reacher. Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones.

SyFy announced it had pulled Friday night’s premiere of an episode of the show Haven, entitled Reunion, which depicted ficticious school violence, the Huffington Post reported. According to a tweet posted on HuffPost from Craig Engler, a senior executive at the network, the episode would be rescheduled and a the holiday episode episode of the show Eureka ran in its in its place. 

Fox also rescheduled two shows. Entertainment Weekly reports that Family Guy and American Dad are rescheduling their episodes of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and Minstrel Krampus because they contain "sensitive content." Instead, Fox will air repeats of both shows. 

Barry Manilow also cancelled a charity concert in Palm Desert, California, on Friday night and rescheduled it for Sunday afternoon. Manilow said he canceled the show as a "gesture of solidarity" with the victims. 

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New York Openings: HAVEN, Brighton, Birreria Roma

There are few pleasures in life more enjoyable than outdoor drinking.  Summer has officially begun, and in the hot, humid evenings the best place to be is an outdoor patio, cold libation in hand. NYC bars have caught on; an outdoor space is almost a necessity these days. It’s also the perfect setting for bringing that significant other. New York newcomers Brighton, Birreria Roma, and HAVEN (pictured) will ensure your hot date catches a cool breeze.

Brighton is the Eventi’s sprawling new beach-shack food court. Go Burger brings the beef, and Fish Shack covers your Cape Cod nostalgia, with clam strips, lobster rolls, and beer-battered cod. There’s a tiki bar and a huge outdoor courtyard. Hester Nights on Thursdays bring even more food options, along with something entertaining on the 35-foot (!) TV.
Birreria Roma applies the speakeasy trend to pizzerias. A secret beer garden attached to Pizza Roma operates as a reservation-only yard. The artisanal house ‘za from Rome is on the menu, with a light dough that’s been rising for four days. Italian versions of doppelbocks and orange blossom-honey ales will expand your suds horizons. It’s a major date-night score, just make sure you call first.

HAVEN at the Sanctuary Hotel has a private elevator that will take you to 360-degree views above Times Square. There are eye-to-eye vantages of the French Gothic steeple of St. Mary the Virgin, and swaths of green courtesy of both real grass and artificial turf. Small plates keep you fortified as the city lights come alive.

BlackBook Welcomes Summer With Help From Patron and Philanthro Productions

Last night, BlackBook brought out some of New York’s trendiest to kick off the summer right. At the new swanky and sophisticated Haven on the Sanctuary Hotel rooftop, 200 industry tastemakers and influencers came out to celebrate the summer with BlackBook‘s Summer Kick-Off party brought to you by Patron and Philanthro Productions.

Invitees took in the NYC skyline while enjoying beats by DJ Ani Quinn. Quests were also treated to specialty cocktails by Patron and Ultimat Vodka. Patron-flavored popsicles were on hand to cool down the scene.

Special thanks to photographer Karl Ferguson

Los Angeles Openings: Haven, Freddy Smalls, Urban Masala

Haven (Pasadena) – Both beer and wine are on tap, and suckling pigs are a-roasting.

Freddy Smalls (Santa Monica) – Belgian waffles at a gastropub, by the guys who brought us The Counter.

Urban Masala (Hollywood) – Modern Indian joint for those out late in Hollywood.

BlackBook Midnight Mixologists presented by Stoli at HaVen

Last night, the traveling showcase that is the Midnight Mixologists tour presented by Stoli vodka, rolled into HaVen, Miami’s futuristic gastropub lovechild. The lucky patrons enjoyed the exclusive cocktails crafted by the Midnight Mixologists themselves.

They were the Majorelle Blue by Justin Anderson, the Stoli® Appartchik by Charles Hardwick, the Eskimo Brothers by Brad Bolt, the Stoli® Chinois Elitist by Camille Austin, and the Apples to Oranges by Beate Kiser. Guests danced to beats by Al B Rotten aka Andrews Lorenzana, while Kelly Bruce took photos. The videographer was Jenny Abrams. Special thanks go out to HaVen.

Of South Beach’s Blessed Havens

For all its internationally-recognized hustle and bustle, South Beach still boasts a few spots where the true hustler can hang without having to endure the crush of amateurs. Havens from the madding crowd. The kinda joints where one doesn’t mind colliding with the crowd because the crowd generally consists of folks worth colliding with. As anyone who hits the afterdark knows, the night can be predicated as much by the company you encounter as the company you keep. And woe to those who come up against the flowless. Last night I had the great good pleasure of hitting two of the cooler hotspots in Miami, and it was almost enough to restore my faith in swingin’ the Strip.

Like any dynamite night out, it began in exquisite company. In my case it was the ever-elegant Nicole Soden, a gal-about-town with more renown than I’ll ever muster, no matter how much trouble I cause. Nicole’s a knockout, pure and simple. Not just looks-wise (though of course there is that), but charm-wise and smarts-wise and talent-wise, too.

Over a spectacularly delicious fine dine at the just-opened Vic & Angelo’s, Nicole spoke of her recent trip to the Yucatan, where she explored the history and mysteries of Chichen Itza, as well as her upcoming film project with lensman Juan Carlos Castaneda of So-Me Designs and No More Tears infamy. It was for the coincident campaigns where Nicole and Juan Carlos first met, and having quickly discovered their creative stars were aligned, the two decided to pursue even more endeavors. I’ve got a hunch that after they team up over Nicole’s “Luncheon on the Grass” (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe), which springs from the same-named Manet painting and is slated for the next Art Basel, we’ll all reap the rewards of the work to come. .

If food and rep is any indication, Vic and Angelo’s will too be forever more. An offshoot of the resoundingly popular Palm Beach Gardens original (and its Delray Beach sister eatery) on the site of what was DeVito (and before that Joia), restaurateur David Manero’s latest creation brings a certain Old World mythic to the New World wonder of Ocean Drive. Much of that myth is rooted in Naples, where, legend has it, the real Vic and Angelo Vespaed to market each and every Sunday in order to procure the freshest foodstuffs for their traditional weekly dinners. Here, however, it’s Chef Paul Griffin who keeps alive the tradition, and he does so by infusing a heaping helping of 21st century know-how. We started with Baked Clams al Forno and Giant Beef Carpaccio, mained with Black Grouper (topped with Jumbo Lump Crab, Lemon Scampi Jus, Escarole, and White Beans) and the Bone-In Rib-Eye (which is “selected and aged for 21 days in the famous stockyards of Chicago”), then ended with Tiramesu. Needless to say, we were sated beyond satiation.

Also dining while we were there was Ocean Drive editor Suzy Buckley and the bi-coastally-inclined Josh Woodward, who with Chef Govind Armstrong is/was responsible for both Table 8 and 8oz Burger Bar, and hence knows a thing or three about good food.

After bidding adieu to our Serbian server Vladimir and maitre ‘d Oscar H, who both were the picture of perfect attendance, we swung up to Lincoln Road to find yet another haven among hangouts, this time one conveniently called Haven.

That’s right, the now 90-day-young self-described gastro-lounge calls it as it wants it to be, and for once we can clearly see what they mean. Helmed by Ben Arndt (who wasn’t on hand), Kimberly Acker, and Dana “Danger” Dwyer (both of whom were there), Haven truly is something of a haven from South Beach’s usual grind. Part of that has to do with its location on the far west end of Lincoln, where mostly it’s locals who don’t fear to tread. But even locals can be a finicky bunch, and if Haven didn’t have what it takes to make a place the right kinda hang, it’d go the way of all the other venues that believed they knew what was what. Fortunately for us and few handfuls of Miami heavies, Haven doesn’t seem to be just guessing — it seems to know. And we all know what a little knowledge can do for a scene.

image Vic and Angelo’s, pictured here and above