Where Celebs Go Out: Mena Suvari, Selma Blair, Olivia Palermo

Mena Suvari at the Zac Posen for Target shopping party: “Sushi at Nobu.” ● Ginnifer Goodwin:Candle 79 here. Madeleine Bistro in L.A.” ● Selma Blair: “I love the Savoy and I love Minetta Tavern.” ● Zac Posen: “My favorite restaurant Kai, just closed in New York. And I’m very saddened about Takashimaya. I love Casa Lever has the best steak and great pasta. It’s really good Italian.”

Patricia Field:Il Buco, around the corner from my house. Agnanti is a Greek restaurant out in Astoria. There are some very good Japanese restaurants that I love on East 43rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s a great saki bar there called Sakagura. Next door, there’s a really good Japanese barbecue, and across the street, one of the best sushi restaurants in the city.” ● Joe Zee: “Minetta Tavern. But my old standby restaurant for the last 15 years is Bar Pitti. ● Olivia Palermo:Indochine.” ● Theodora Richards: “At the moment, it’s Sant Ambroeus, down on the west side. The mille-feuilles—I don’t know how to pronounce the French word for a thousand leaves—but the dessert, this pastry thing, is phenomenal, my new favorite.” ● Alek Wek: “Let’s say like Nobu downtown in Tribeca or Schillers, on the Lower East Side.” ● Kate Gosselin: @ the Discovery Channel’s 2010-11 Upfront reception. “I’m afraid if I tell because it’ll ruin my spots, and then I can’t go there anymore because the paparazzi will get me! I’m just kidding. You caught me off guard. In New York, I love Le Colonial

DJ War: Uncle Steve Takes on Goliath

Hey loyal readers. If you’re expecting something deep or profound today, pick up the Post. Your humble hero is a bit out of it. When you reach my age, and you’ve been out all night, you get the hangover without the ability to forget what caused it. Lady Astor once said, “One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time.” I had a good time last night. I got to participate in full contact DJing with the legendary Mark Kamins at my favorite place in town not owned by Erik Foss, subMercer.

Mark is an old friend, and for a guy with a ginormous ego he can be quite humble. He rarely talks about himself with his mouth full of food. He has had a brilliant career although being my DJ partner last night may be the low point. If you go to Wikipedia, they’ll tell you he “is a New York club DJ. He is best known for helping launch the career of one-time girlfriend Madonna by presenting a demo to Seymour Stein of Sire Records. He also produced her first single “Everybody” in 1982.” It goes on to say he has worked with “controversial performance artist Karen Finley and projects for Tommy Page, David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Ofra Haza, the Beastie Boys, Sinéad O’Connor and UB40.”

You could add a hundred etcetera’s to his resume. He was definitely one of the first international DJ’s, and to this day works all over the world. What it doesn’t say is that he is one of the most beloved and respected people in the scene. Last night he joined me at subMercer where we did a ping pong DJ set. I played 3 and then he played 3. I told him I was going to go easy on him…I lied. As he was playing, I was having pretty girls ask him where the bathroom was, or I was loudly telling old jokes about his old age to the DJ booth crew. It was “he’s so tired that when he goes to the airport they make him check the bags under his eyes,” or, “he’s so tired his phone number is 1-800 dial-a-mattress,” or, “Mark is over 60 and still doesn’t need glasses. He drinks right out of the bottle.” The entourage of a dozen DJs and DJ groupies were roaring and he got a little distracted. DJ Justin Strauss would whisper in my ear the name of some incredibly imagined but obscure song, and I would tell Mark, “Omg, you played that! I was going to play that!” He was shocked that I knew it, as like 100 people in the world who don’t DJ would know that track. He was looking at me and alternated between laughter and annoyance at my antics. He became very aware that we were in a war. I was relentless and when he got distracted and made a boo boo I offered my assistance. “Mark, do you need help with the equipment?” We laughed and laughed and the dance floor stayed full. We’re gonna do it again.

The crowd at suBmercer was charged and super hot. Gabby Meija plied me with bottled waters and diet cokes until I had to leave the room and she could play a few tracks. Tariq Abdus-Sabur then took over and we all relived the last 25 years. Richard Alvarez, the door keep extrodanaire, mesmerized me and mine with tales of yore and yonder. On another note, Damn DJs get hit on…even bad ones. I had my girlfriend with me. Bringing your girl to a DJ gig is like bringing a bottle of jack to a wine tasting–it’s overkill and it kills your game. But alas, I am a loyal cuss and she just laughed at my suave moves. A curvy woman way out of my league told me she loved my set and I told her I loved hers as well. Another asked me for my number and I told her it was 1-800-dial-a-mattress. She didn’t get it and she’s the type who is used to getting it. It was like that–subMercer is sexy.

Okay, back to my job. I hear from dubious sources told over loud music that there’s moves going on over at the Los Dados space in the Meatpacking, that the 205 Christie space which has been available for eons is being taken by the 10th Street Lounge guys, that Le Colonial Elizabeth Street is fighting a losing battle over rent. The addition of the Keith McNally offering Pulino’s on Bowery and Houston has landlords in the area salivating and rents skyrocketing. I hear Mr. McNally tried to take over the hair salon next door but they said no. I hear that long-legged, long time club promoter Caron Bernstein has (with a little help from her beau Andrew) given birth to a baby boy. They named him Jett and he will surely grow up to be a heartbreaker.

When Caron’s modeling career began to wane she hit me up for a bartending spot at LIFE. I asked her if she ever bartended and she said sure. I, being the skeptic that I am, asked my head bartender to keep an eye on her. An hour after the club opened I asked him how she was doing. He told me she asked him what went into a vodka cranberry. In time she learned that one, but little more, and she was never behind the bar much, just flitting around the club and flirting, and she was never on time and wanted to leave early, but made as much tips as anybody. She was treated “special” because she was always special. Caron Bernstein is hot, charismatic and owner of the best bellybutton I’ve eve seen, and now she is a mother and we love her. Diane Brill, club mother from a bygone era, is celebrating her birthday at a private place. Club royalty from that day will pay homage. Alas, sasa Nikolic’s request for me attend Eric Milon’s 55th Street offering, Covet, last night, could not be honored due to my pleasure at subMercer. I promise to dig out my passport and venture uptown soon if they’ll take my rain check. I am routing for Covet’s success as I believe Eric Milon has the right stuff to make something swell.

Industry Insiders: David Copperfield, Man of Many Talents

It seems pretty evident that David Copperfield can do anything. The traveling, world famous magician has recently added developer to his extensive resume, taking on a group of uninhabited islands in Musha Cay near the Exumas in the southern Bahamas that he’s calling it The Islands of Copperfield Bay. The magic man still keeps residences in New York and Las Vegas, but escapes to his new paradise down south as often as his schedule allows. More on the magician’s luxe beach resort and life after the jump.

What do you call yourself? I’ll take what I can get… magician is pretty good. If the magic I do seems real and creates wonder, I’ll accept that. Otherwise, I’m a communicator and story teller. It was always my dream to tell stories in the same way all the people I admired did. Like Victor Fleming, Frank Capra, but I couldn’t sing or direct films. Orson Welles was a friend, until he died. I tried to take what I could do and achieve the same emotions by doing magic, so I told stories and tried to move and amaze an audience.

Now you’re a developer. I bring the same kind of storytelling and emotional roller coaster to the resort. I changed the name to Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay. If Donald Trump can get away with it, then, what the hell? Only one island is developed and has 40 pink sandy beaches. It’s really beautiful for about two miles. The others are uninhabited, really remarkable, and we’re making the island chain into a nature reserve. We’re legitimately researching conservation with exotic animals. Now that I have 700 acres of amazing islands for them to inhabit, with a larger space than a zoo could offer, it‘s wonderful.

How did this start? I bought the islands four years ago, and we’ve been collecting artifacts to display since. In Africa, I’ve been given artifacts from royal families, and now I have a place to show them. The Burmese Buddha outside a temple was once given to me in China, and now it’s going to be in the islands. When I originally made the purchase, it was already a retreat for very select clients.

Are there technical difficulties in building there? We used barges to bring equipment, helicopters and planes. There’s now a 450 acre island with its own landing strip for caravans with 2,000 feet of runway. National Geographic landed on our beaches and shot the islands.

What would be your best trick? World peace, world health.

You were just some nice, Jewish kid from small-town Jersey when you were teaching magic at NYU at 16. The theatre department at NYU found me when I still in high school, and they picked me because I was so good at magic. When I was 12, I was admitted into the society of American Magicians, but remember: I sucked at everything else.

And then you attended Fordham? I went to Fordham, a nice Jewish school, and I left there for a planned three weeks when I got into a show in Chicago in The Music Man, and suddenly 20 years pass by, and they give me an honorary Doctorate, with George Mitchell, the Peacemaker.

What’s your favorite room to perform? The good thing about my career is that it changes, I play arenas in Europe; theatres here in the U.S. There’s a really beautiful one I first performed in with Andy Williams 20 years ago in Cleveland, and then there’s Vegas and the Islands. It’s really a buffet, a moveable feast!

It was rumored that you had a problem with Michael Jackson 12 years ago, as friends, I went to Neverland and I worked on one of his tours, and then all of a sudden on April Fool’s Day it was rumored that we were in discussions, and that he wanted me to appear in the new show. I thought it was an April Fool’s Joke. Then without any contact at all, I was fired from the non-existent show. I hadn‘t seen the man for two years. He went too soon. I knew Kenny Ortega was the director of This Is It, but I was never part of it.

Where are your go-to places? Next door to me in New York is Le Colonial for French Vietnamese. I like it very much, then there’s Daniel, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, or just going to the deli for a corned beef sandwich.

Who do you admire? At the beginning of my career, my idols were Disney and Welles so my direction took a different path, and I tried to preserve everything. In Las Vegas, I have a museum, the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts with 80,000 things of Houdini and Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin who was the father of modern magic. It’s an incredible place and I’ve had all of their ephemera, their illusions. I have Houdini’s strait jackets, handcuffs, keys, mirror cuffs, the milk can escape — everything. When I give a tour, it’s as if he were alive today. Everything he’s famous for.

The upside of your profession? Is there any other David Copperfield out there? I think it’s terrific, whatever makes people dream is positive. We really need it, especially in times like this. We need to be transported, whether with art or music or dance or storytelling, or what I do. What I do is really primal, as in, you’re taking Mother Nature and turning her upside down.

The worst part? Sometimes people mistake magic for something demonic. The only story I can tell you is that about ten years ago I was in the South, and I had a picketer outside the theatre with a sign that said ‘David Copperfield is the Devil.” And I sent my crew outside to take a picture of this guy. I kept it on my dressing room table. Two years later, we returned and the guy was out there again, and I decided to have some fun. I took the picture, put it in my pocket and walked outside with a friend and a Polaroid camera, and I introduced myself as David Copperfield, the Devil, and asked him if he’d mind if I got a picture with him. My friend took a picture with me, the guy and the sign. I stepped away from him and pulled out the picture from two years ago, handed it to him and walked away. I don’t think he’s coming back.

Something people might not know about you? I’m a really bad karaoke singer, but I think I’m good. I take my work seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously.

Favorite movies? I love Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, American Beauty, Inglorious Bastards.

Plumm Space Up for Grabs

imageAs the economy recovers and money becomes available, places that were long ago shuttered or recently deceased prepare for rebirth. Restaurants lay around like old chairs and sofas covered with white sheets like in an old horror flick. The biggest prize in my eyes is Plumm, that ripe spot on 14th Street with a ton of tradition. Nell Campbell had her infamous joint Nell’s there back in the day. It became famous for charging everybody — and I mean everybody — door admission. Cher refused, got turned away, and the little gimmick turned the place into a hit overnight. In later years, I would go and listen to jazz bands and eat good food before the mayhem of the dance halls. Noel Ashman took the joint over and called it NA. Some said it meant “Nell’s Again,” but most thought it was a tribute to his own dapper self. Noel eventually closed NA and transformed it into Plumm, with a gaggle of celebrity investors including Chris Noth, Damon Dash, Samantha Ronson, etc. Plumm proved to be a bitter fruit, never really catching on with a crowd that spent enough money to pay the rent.

Now the space is suddenly available, and investment entities are playing a game of musical chairs trying to snare it. The rub — or is it rubb? — is the rent. Noel was in at around $28,000, and the landlord was looking for $43,000. I hear now it’s at $38,000. That’s a high number in these times, and most of the smart guys have left it on the table. Still, there are a few groups looking. These operators, who I will name in the next few weeks, feel that they still have the bottle chops to make loot. The location on 14th Street just east of 8th Avenue has gotten a lot better, as the shift from West Chelsea and its 27th Street strip to the Meatpacking and the surrounding area has really stepped up. Still, Plumm or whatever it becomes is a real long block away from that action, making it too far to walk (especially in heels), but also uncomfortably close for a taxi ride. With a full kitchen, high ceilings, and cabaret downstairs, this place will be something soon. With its proximity to subways, a downtown location, and two floors, it’s ideal for servicing corporate parties if indeed the upturn brings them back. Noel told me that he still has the liquor license, and that should mean someone will need to deal with him, as a transfer from one group to another is easier than a new one.

The Tasting Room on Elizabeth Street folded rather quickly on the bones of quite a few other joints at the start of the recession. It’s easy to blame the economy, but eateries all around it have thrived throughout (although Rialto also failed and is now redecorated and renamed Elizabeth across the street). Still, it’s a half-hour wait at Habana and Gitane, and Le Colonial is always crowded. The blame for failure at Rialto and Tasting Room can be firmly placed on both places’ inability to embrace and cater to the hood. Now Jo’s opens, and the first thing out of management’s mouths is how they are going to be a neighborhood place.

I spoke with Jo’s owner Jim Chu. “I think the best way to describe what we’re doing here is to make something that is casual but professional, stylish, and laid back. Along with the rise of culinary culture in the U.S., there has been a really ugly sense that there is a limited number of people that get to hold the keys to what makes it and what doesn’t, or that you need to have three forks to make it a real meal, or that drinks need to be $14 to be good. Bullshit. It doesn’t matter how exclusive your plate of foodie-branded supper is, if it’s $49 and you can’t afford to eat it. We don’t subscribe to that, and we made a place we really love.”

Jim is joined by actor Johnny Santiago from Torch and Kevin Felker, who has had various roles from bartender to manager at such places as Pastis, Schiller’s, W Union Square, Tribeca and Soho Grand hotels, and Barmarche. He even spent time at Aureole making pastry because he “didn’t want to spend the money on cooking school.” With an eye on their bottom line and a recognition of the still-shallow pockets of their patrons, I think Jo’s is a model for success. The scene is rising from the carnage of the nuclear winter. My design firm is getting tons of inquiries from operators in similar situations, the banks are eking out money and groups ready and able but who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for credit to become un-crunched, and everybody’s looking to fix up defunct spaces and bring new life and jobs back to the hoods.

Industry Insiders: Remi Laba of Bagatelle & Kiss and Fly

Monsieur Meatpacking: Bagatelle and Kiss and Fly‘s Remi Laba on boring models, the grub at Pastis, and bringing down the house (music).

Point of Origin: My dad’s American, my mother’s French. I was born in the US and raised in France. I can’t seem to negate my origin for some reason. Nightlife was an accident, to be honest. I was working for a liquor company, Pernod Ricard, and people were constantly asking me for sponsorship, and at one point I said ‘You know what? I’ll comp your sponsoring if my friends can come to your events.’ It grew from there until club owners starting saying they would pay me to bring people to their club. And that’s how we [partner Aymeric Clemente, formerly of La Goulue and Le Bilboquet] started, ten years ago.

We did it for fun until we realized it could really become a business. Everything we do resembles us. We try to create something that embraces the Jet-Set lifestyle in which we were brought up. When we started at Lotus, 8 years ago, Lotus was known for its hip-hop, models, whatever, and they called us and we brought in something very different. We brought DJs from Paris that were more focused on European house, and that brought the whole European crowd in and it became some of the highest generating sales ever for Lotus. We took that concept and moved it to our next venue, Marquee. We were part of the opening team at Marquee, then we did the Deck with Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker and all those guys. We took it to Bed Roof. We always take that same concept and each time make it a little more complete. Then we opened Pink Elephant, as promotional partners with those guys.

Occupations: Aymeric and I are the main partners at Bagatelle, we’re the partners here at Kiss & Fly, and I’m in charge of all the marketing and PR aspects of the venue. What Aymeric and I do better than anybody else is bring the French ambiance and atmosphere into the venue. So it not only looks French, but it feels French. We’re taking it to the level: the St. Tropez party lifestyle. It’s for people who like to drink great wine, eat great food, and like great parties. Go to Bagatelle on a Monday night and you’ll have a peaceful environment with great food. Then the vibe builds on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then by Saturday brunch we move into a full-blown party. But we’ll never compromise the food.

Side Hustle: Aymeric and I are partners in marketing company/DJ agency called In The Buzz, that does promotions at all the top nightclubs across the world and also represents some of the top talent when it comes to DJs. We also do consulting in the hospitality industry. That’s what brought us to owning our own venue. There’s 13th Street Entertainment, which basically owns Kiss & Fly, Bagatelle, and our new lounge opening the first week of September tentatively named Bagatelle Lounge. We represent Mitch LJ, who’s the resident DJ at Nikki Beach. Jacques Dumont, who is an older DJ, probably 47 years old, and was the resident DJ at Nikki Beach St. Barths for years. Now he’s our resident DJ here at Kiss & Fly. We’ve had David Guetta play here. It’s not exclusively house music, but the crowd they’re playing for likes primarily house. I think for all of us our side projects are our personal lives. It’s hard to balance that in this industry.

Favorite Hangs: The Hamptons are a big market with high visibility. A lot of people go there, and there are very few clubs to go to. Pretty much only Pink Elephant, Cabana, and Dune. We have a very good relationship with Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss and we host the Saturday night Kiss ‘N’ Fly party at Dune Southampton. But when I go to the Hamptons, I don’t go to socialize. I enjoy the beauty of the nature there. I love the beach at Flying Point, and off Route D in Southampton. In the city, I love going to Bar Pitti. It’s very unpretentious, a great terrace, and always good food. If I’m with a group of friends and want a good, fun dinner, I like Indochine, Bond St., Le Bilboquet; Aymeric used to be the GM there for several years. Bagatelle is a big version of Le Bilboquet. If I’m going to dinner with my girlfriend, I want to go upstairs at Le Colonial. I’ll never have dinner downstairs, it’s too formal. But the lounge is unbelievable.

Industry Icons: Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker were the first guys to understand the European factor in nightlife. They kind of made us who we are today. I’ve really enjoyed working with those guys. I don’t know if I look up to anyone really. If there are two guys who have had a memorable career so far it’s Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. We worked with them at Marquee, then at Tao in Vegas. They are very, very hard workers, and what they’ve achieved is remarkable. I would never work the way they do. The way they work is very American. The way we work is more passionate, less driven by numbers.

Known Associates: My current associates are Aymeric Clemente, Corey Lane, Lionel Ohayon, David Graziano, and Jonathan Segal. My past associates are Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Mark Baker, and Jeffrey Jah, Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg. We’ve promoted for Jamie Mulholland and Jayma Cardosa at Cain. We’ve basically crossed paths with every major person in the industry. It’s a small town.

Projections: We’ve established Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly in New York. Our next project is due the first week of September, fashion week, which will be the Bagatelle Lounge downstairs of Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly, at which point our 13th Street project will be complete–one restaurant, one nightclub, and one lounge. From there, we’ll move on, not necessarily with the same partners, but we’ll open Bagatelle restaurants and Bagatelle cafes in different cities. Ultimately our dream is to open a Bagatelle boutique hotel.We’d love to open something in Tulum (we’re looking at a property down there). We’d love to open Bagatelle, the restaurant as you know it, in London, Vegas, and San Paulo. We have offers in South Beach, but I don’t think Miami Beach is what it used to be. Though we did go to the Winter Music Conference in Miami for the past two years and did ‘Fuck Me I’m Famous’ with David Guetta at Cameo; that’s very successful.

Do you cater to a different crowd in the summer in the city than the rest of the year?

There’s definitely a different club crowd in the summer, not necessarily in quality. Most of your regulars go to the Hamptons in the summer or travel to St. Tropez, Ibiza, Croatia, etc. But there’s also a lot of tourists coming to New York in the summer who have read about venues and will come out. The truth of the matter is, if you have a good product and run your door properly, you can have the right crowd in your club every single night. If you focus on only celebrities and models and there are eight clubs going after the same clientele, there will be one winner and a lot of losers. But if you say, “Ok, I want my venue to be fun, I want the crowd to be pretty, and I want to generate dollars,” the way you look at things are going to shift. Some people say “Oh, my club is so great, we only have models.” Great, models are pretty, but are they the most fun girls you’ve ever seen in nightclubs? Not necessarily. Energy’s also a very, very important factor. If 1Oak says, “Oh, in the summer we have to sell out because all the good crowds are going away,” well, I’d rather sell out my crowd a tiny bit, but still maintain the level of energy.

Considering you’ve worked with Scott Sartiano and Jeffrey Jah, etc. in the past, do you see Butter as an influence or a competitor?

Butter is known for their Monday night parties. What Butter does on Monday nights, no one else does. It’s a concentration of models and celebrities in a very small space. Those guys have done great at it, they own Monday nights, but that’s not what we do. We’re not model-driven. [The Butter guys] aren’t competitors, they’re friends. We actually go to Butter on Monday nights when we can.

A lot of reviews of Bagatelle are calling you the next Pastis. Do you see yourselves replacing Pastis ever?

No. I think Pastis as a French bistro has had a lot of recent competition in the neighborhood, but we are very different. Most of the restaurants in Meatpacking, their concepts are big. We are very different; we’re small, 90 seats. We have a very personalized welcome. Aymeric and I are here every day. You can create an intimate relationship with the owners, which no other restaurant in the meatpacking can offer. At Pastis the food is average. At Bagatelle we pride ourselves on great food. Our chef Nicolas Cantrel, (who we “stole” from bobo), is a gift from God.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Bagatelle caring to my guests and then dinner with my girlfriend later on.