Summer Preview: How the Hamptons Spent Its Winter Vacation

The off-season on the East End was nothing so much as an elaborate game of musical chairs, where restaurants swapped locations, switched bays and changed towns, and when the music stopped, one of the only people sans chair was, of course, Jean Luc. Read on for our detailed round up of what’s moved and shook on the island over the winter, and be sure to check out all the latest openings and perks on our comprehensive Hamptons Guide for the iPhone. Enjoy!

Last year’s Southampton daytime-drinking party-starter Day & Night, following the trend, has moved further east. For the season ahead, kicking off with the Memorial Day bash this Saturday, the bros. Koch describe a circus that features everything short of a French dwarf running around screaming “De plane, boss, de plane.” But give them time, plans do, in fact, include a seaplane (“We’re working with V1 Jets to offer packaged seaplane flights from NYC directly to the venue,” Daniel Koch tells us) and jet skis shuttling guests from boats in the harbor to the party. It all sounds like great fun until you realize that the boys aren’t playing in the Pink Elephant‘s sandbox anymore, that jet skis are prohibited in Three Mile Harbor (that goes double for seaplanes), and that the East Hampton PD once carted a gallery owner who had been in the town for three decades away in a police cruiser because she served wine at an art opening without a permit. Then it gets more fun.

RdV. East (from the crew behind the Meat Packing District’s Bagatelle, Kiss & Fly, and, of course, RdV) takes on the Tavern space (which previously hosted La Playa) and promises to perk up what has become a dwindling club scene. With Pink Elephant sunk in a legal morass, RdV East joins Dune and Lily Pond as the only legitimate club options this side of the canal.

The Montauk locals and watchers of the inexorable crawl of Hamptons glam toward the ocean have been buzzing about the next nail in the coffin of The End’s homespun charm. Sean MacPherson (who with Eric Goode has ridden the Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn to near obnoxious success and The Jane Ballroom to notoriety) purchased the ever-so-slightly dilapidated–err, homey–inn and restaurant The Crow’s Nest. The acquisition came too late for him to do anything other than run it as is this season, but next year he promises to open a “new and improved” version.

Of course, the inevitable alarms have already sounded, to such an extent that you nearly expect villagers to meet Macpherson with pitchforks and torches when he finally does a Surf Lodge on the complex (also known as, making it a place people might actually want to stay). MacPherson certainly has, by all accounts, a prime spot, just across Lake Montauk from the newly revitalized Montauk Yacht Club (boasting its own revamped restaurant, The Gulf Coast Kitchen). It still remains to be seen if neighbors won’t complain as vociferously as they have about the Surf Lodge, situated on Fort Pond. There’s no reason to believe they won’t.

And, if you can believe it, the Memory Motel in Montauk narrowly missed being turned into a “a cool little box hotel” by reality TV couple Bob and Cortney Novogratz of Bravo’s 9 By Design. As the couple told Hamptons.com, “we missed the deal by a week.” While the landmark escaped that fate, owner Artie Schneider told us that he did indeed make a deal for the hotel portion of the property with someone else (though he’ll retain the bar immortalized by the Rolling Stones in the song of the same name). Changes could come in as little as a month or so, he said.

New casual coastal restaurant Navy Beach opened early and well on a distant stretch of road along some of of Montauk’s prettiest bay beaches, down the sand from what had long been a naval base. The nautical theme carries throughout, from the reclaimed wood from the base in the interior, to the flags over the bar spelling “drink” in maritime code, to the seafood on the menu (though one menu item far from seafaring has been winning raves: the burger).

New this year to Bridgehamton will be Southfork Kitchen, the restaurant opening Bruce Buschel has been chronicling in the New York Times. His list of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” stirred a shit-storm and garnered him a Facebook “fan” page calling for a boycott before his spot even had a name. Southfork Kitchen says it is set to serve “local and sustainable” seafood, and if you want to read how cute and fun it is to come up with names and logos and menu items and rules for servers you can read Buschel’s blog.

Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield once joked that he would auction off the right to smash the sign from his restaurant in East Hampton. It looks like someone has finally taken him up the offer (though without the auction). The sign for Prime 103, his steakhouse on Montauk Highway now lies shattered.

And in Sag Harbor there are signs of life at the former JLX. The “Help Wanted” signs in all the windows prompted a burly passerby with dreadlocks down his back to stop and marvel. “What? So, he’s going to open it back up now?” he said incredulously. “This guy owes me $2,000 bucks, literally.” The passerby will have to get in line, but, in fact, it isn’t Jean Luc reopening the restaurant. A part of the team from the successful Trata in Watermill will make a go of it in Sag Harbor. There’s no name yet, but word is that the spot will be a French-inflected bistro, as it had been.

Now for the others who found new chairs: Mezzaluna AMG packed it in after one season, but Tim Bando of The Meeting House quickly moved in with his sleek and sexy Exile Bar. And Serafina has now taken the former Matto location in East Hampton, offering the same fare served at its midtown stalwarts. The Lodge in EH also closed, but owner Micheal Gluckman moved on up to the Springs with the Boathouse, a two-level seafooder overlooking the water. The Boathouse displaced local favorite Bostwick’s, which promptly, dressed down a bit, moved down toward Montauk Highway and opened in the former Cherrystones as Bostwick’s Chowder House. Also in East Hampton, Wei Fun said sayonara and has been replaced by The Grill on Pantigo, a sort of more casual and modern younger sibling to the 1770 House. Finally, a restaurant called Race Lane is set to open in the former Lodge spot. The owners say Race Lane will hark back to the days when the restaurant was The Laundry (which had moved to a new location a few years ago and closed this winter).

Got all that?

Industry Insiders: Michael Satsky, Agent Provocateur

Michael Satsky, the former proprietor of Lily Pond in East Hampton and now-defunct Stereo nightclub, has been busy launching his venture, Provocateur at Hotel Gansevoort, a lounge sprinkled with feminine touches that will “cater to a woman’s every desire.” Now in the soft opening phase for private events and parties, the man behind the Meatpacking District’s hottest new haunt gives BlackBook a sneak peak after the jump.

Tell us about the Provocateur concept. It’s femme in every possible way from the front of the house to the back. It truly is going to back up what the description says it is. From the décor to the staff to the front of the house to the drinks in every way shape and form. It’s going to compare to walking into a Bendels rather than a Barneys, you’re going to know that you’re in a female department store.

How does that appeal to your male clientele? To be honest with you, it’s not something I’m concerned with. I think that women lead by example, and the men will follow.

And guys go wherever there are good-looking women, so… It’s going to be different for them. Guys are going to think it’s a little strange, but I’m cool with that.

Besides the retractable roof, what’s your favorite aspect of the venue? There’s a catwalk that overlooks the bar set about five feet above the bar, and that’s something that I really wanted to integrate into the design. Having interactive entertainment components to your venue is something that I don’t really see anywhere else I go.

How is prepping for this opening different from your other venues like Lily Pond or Stereo? It’s different in every single way, shape, and form. When you truly build something from nothing, it takes on a life that you can’t even imagine. It’s almost like building a building, which I’ve never done before. From the walls to the roof to the floor, everything is new. There was nothing usable from the previous tenants or the previous building. Hotel Gansevoort is my landlord, so it’s been a learning experience even though I’ve been in the business for such a long time and I’ve done so many projects like this. I gained a lot of knowledge from building this project.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve taken from the process? Honestly, there are so many. Everything that I’ve learned is valuable. I’d say I’ve received a degree in construction, so I know a lot of things that I should have never known, but maybe one day I’ll be able to use them. When you build things from scratch, you learn things that you never thought you were going to learn.

The Meatpacking District has been changing so much recently, especially after the opening of The Standard Hotel and the venues there. What’s the new clientele in this area that you’re hoping to attract? We’re trying to actually bring more clientele to this area than take from it. We’ll take something from it because there are a lot of great things around here. But I think the international traveler that we’re going to attract here is something that can’t be found anywhere because what we’re going to do is have a mixture of organic New York, and at the same time, I believe the organic Australia, or the organic Europe or the organic South America—this is going to be where they’ll come. So it’s all of these worlds clashing at once, and I think that’s going to create such a beautiful environment.

What do you mean by organic? Something that cannot be manufactured. You can’t manufacture your family, that’s something that comes with the territory. If you, yourself develop a certain clientele or a certain group of friends, I feel that that’s your organic circle, and I feel that the organic circles that are in other places just like mine in New York are going to gravitate here.

Will you have entry for hotel guests automatically? No. Even thought it’s inside the hotel, it’s completely separate. Although we want to be as courteous to the hotel as possible, they’ll have the same protocol as anyone else.

And what sort of door can we expect? I would expect something similar to a Fort Knox experience.

Are you doing anything special with bottle service? This is going to be a product that people are going to feel comfortable paying for. Even though we’re not going to have certain restrictions, I’d expect that we’d be able to receive the highest amount of sales per table compared to anywhere else in the city. People are going to want to spend money because they’re going to feel comfortable. Not because someone is asking them to or making them, they’re going to have the proper environment the proper entertainment and they’re going to have all the amenities that they need.

What are your go-to places? Il Mulino in New York City would be one of my top restaurants of course in the world because I grew up there and I still feel like it’s the best dining experience possible. Maya’s in St. Bart’s is one of the best restaurants. It’s such a great environment and authentic as well. I also like Morimoto.

Is the Greenhouse/Provocateur URL scandal resolved and behind you? Yeah, they returned it. It wasn’t a big deal. It got blown up to something. Its’ not something that crossed my mind or upset me at all.

What are the pros and cons of being in this neighborhood? There are so many legitimate businesses in this neighborhood that it’s a huge probe. The neighborhood isn’t going anywhere. This neighborhood has such a cutting edge fashion forward crowd that it’s such a plus being here. The pluses being in this neighborhood, I could go on and on.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Beluga Caviar.

How did you get into nightlife? When I was a youngster going out to Moomba or Spybar, Life, Club USA, those type of venues attracted me to the business. That’s where I met my first network of clientele.

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone aspiring to get into nightlife right now? Make sure you do it for the right reasons, and make sure that if you get into nightlife your ultimate objective is to continue with it, stick with it, and do something that will going to make a change and impact people’s lives.

Who do you look up to? I think that Ian Schrager does it right.

What’s your favorite Ian Schrager hotel? I love the Delano.

Is that where you stay in Miami? No.

Where do you stay? Hotel Gansevoort.

The Hamptons: Top Hotspots for Memorial Day Weekend

Lily Pond (East Hampton) – The 1Oak family will be hosting this Saturday and will have special events here all summer. The Grand Opening on Saturday has DJ Lee Kalt on the decks, and Sunday kicks off “1OAK at Lily Pond Blue & Cream” with DJ Jus Ske. ● Dune (Southampton) – AXE Lounge features DJ Phresh Friday night, DJ Mel DeBarge on Saturday, and Kiss & Fly hosts on Sunday night with DJ Berrie.

The Maidstone (East Hampton) – Sunday evening Lisa Anastos, Amanda Hearst, Arden Wohl and other Hampton mainstays play host to the kickoff for the Watermill Concert 2009 (at the former Maidstone Arms). Invite lost in the mail? Crash at your own risk. ● Georgica Restaurant & Lounge (East Hampton) – The Eldridge’s Matt Levine launches summer with Naeem Delbridge at the door, giving you that familiar “I’m not going to get in here” feeling upon arriving Friday night when DJ Nick Cohen mans the deck. Try your luck on Saturday when DJ Ruckus spins, and if your tactics fail again, at least you have Sunday night with DJ Mel Debarge. ● Day & Night Restaurant and Beach Club (Southampton) – Those brunches of insanity made popular by the Mercato 55 crew, including Industry Insider brothers Derek and Daniel Koch, ship out to Southampton with a Saturday afternoon brunch with DJ Serebe Kironde spinning. ● Montauk Yacht Club (Montauk) – Saturday night, GoldBar shines in Montauk as their resident DJ Kiss takes up spinning. Sunday you can find The Box’s Jeffrey Tonneson taking over for their 80th anniversary celebration that will last all summer. ● Hampton Coffee Company (Watermill) – Never heard of Hampton Daze Magazine? well, I’m sure you’ve heard of wine, which will be complimentary for the celebration of this magazine’s launch this Saturday. ● Turtle Crossing (Amagansett) – Live music, two-for-one drafts, and more importantly, barbecue — this smoking BBQ joint with a backyard feel has the weekend covered. ● Dockers Waterside (East Quogue) – One word: lobsterbake. Or maybe it’s two words, but that detail wont matter when you are scarfing down lobster for $27.50 and enjoying two-for-one margaritas and mojitos this Sunday. I’d say by then it’s officially summer.

The Hamptons: Top New & Buzzy Joints

One of the most buzzed-about Hamptons openings this summer is actually a re-opening of sorts. A group led by Andrew Chapman, who owns August in the West Village (the group’s also rumored to include Jon Bon Jovi, Ronald Perelman and Renee Zellweger — but you may as well throw in Jimmy Hoffa, the Montauk Monster, and Jackson Pollack) is resurrecting The Blue Parrot in East Hampton. The opening’s been set back a few weeks (as just about every restaurant opening since the birth of the Candy Kitchen has been), but when it arrives, the Parrot promises to bring back the “Killer Mexican” still touted on the wooded sign out front, even though the place has been empty since 2006.

Philippe Chow brings his upscale Chinese and plants it out East next to Michael Satsky’s Lily Pond (now offering helicopter rides from Manhattan to the club — seems like a kind of a bull market thing to do) in the space formerly occupied by Kobe Beach Club.

Harnessing the same sort of imagination it took to name Lily Pond, the owners of The Eldridge have christened their just-opened Wainscott eatery The Georgica. The expansive Georgica (in the former Saracen space) is apt country estate for the crew, if you consider The Eldridge their city studio. The wide-ranging menu ping-pongs from Italian to New American to a fitting bouillabaisse. After 11 p.m. DJs spin, and the vibe changes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t change into Saracen’s late-night vibe of desperation.

Mezzaluna AMG brings the Northern Italian Mezzaluna cuisine Upper East Siders have grown accustomed to in Amagansett. Owner Jack Luber is pulling the twin trick of opening a new luxe inn at the same time. The Reform Club combines English gardens and art-gallery chic in weekend accommodations.

Alison has vacated the Maidstone and been replaced by The Living Room, which promises to bring the slow food ethos to its kitchen, run by local chef James Carpenter. And Rugosa, a new restaurant run by a husband-and-wife team, takes over the surprisingly shuttered Almoncello space. The team at Sen is flipping its Sen Spice concept and turning the space into a new iteration of Phao, the Thai place they ran across the street a few years ago.

Nightclubs are staying put this summer, for the most part. There will be no additional Pink Elephants or the like colonizing the East End, though the big Pink is not remaining completely silent; there will be small restaurant called Day & Night added to the Capri location.

Dune has sold its soul for roll-on deodorant, sprouting The Axe Lounge at Dune for the summer. Nobody every accused owner Noah Tepperberg turning down a quick buck.

And a good old-fashioned bottle-service blowout (though the owners have couched this as a kinder-gentler version) will bloom in Bridgehampton (on the Bridge/Sag Turnpike) with the opening of the Harbor Club — 15-foot ceilings and 3,000 square feet inside, and 2,500 square feet of outdoor area. With the participation of LOLA’s James Cruickshank and David Marino and Ben Grieff of Boutique, it’s certainly the big new baller on the block.

The Hamptons: Top 10 New & Buzzy Joints

One of the most buzzed-about Hamptons openings this summer is actually a re-opening of sorts. A group led by Andrew Chapman, who owns August in the West Village (the group’s also rumored to include Jon Bon Jovi, Ronald Perelman and Renee Zellweger — but you may as well throw in Jimmy Hoffa, the Montauk Monster, and Jackson Pollack) is resurrecting The Blue Parrot in East Hampton. The opening’s been set back a few weeks (as just about every restaurant opening since the birth of the Candy Kitchen has been), but when it arrives, the Parrot promises to bring back the “Killer Mexican” still touted on the wooded sign out front, even though the place has been empty since 2006.

Philippe Chow brings his upscale Chinese and plants it out East next to Michael Satsky’s Lily Pond (now offering helicopter rides from Manhattan to the club — seems like a kind of a bull market thing to do) in the space formerly occupied by Kobe Beach Club.

Harnessing the same sort of imagination it took to name Lily Pond, the owners of The Eldridge have christened their just-opened Wainscott eater The Georgica. The expansive Georgica (in the former Saracen space) is apt country estate for the crew, if you consider The Eldridge their city studio. The wide-ranging menu ping-pongs from Italian to New American to a fitting bouillabaisse. After 11 p.m. DJs spin, and the vibe changes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t change into Saracen’s late-night vibe of desperation.

Mezzaluna AMG brings the Northern Italian Mezzaluna cuisine Upper East Siders have grown accustomed to to Amagansett. Owner Jack Luber is pulling the twin trick of opening a new luxe inn at the same time. The Reform Club combines english gardens and art-gallery chic in weekend accommodations.

Alison has vacated the Maidstone and been replaced by The Living Room, which promises to bring the slow food ethos to it’s kitchen, run by local chef James Carpenter. And Rugosa, a new restaurant run by a husband and wife team, takes over the surprisingly shuttered Almoncello space. The team at Sen is flipping it’s Sen Spice concept and turning the space into a new iteration of Phao, the Thai place they ran across the street a few years ago.

Nightclubs are staying put this summer, for the most part. There will be no additional Pink Elephants or the like colonizing the East End. though the big Pink is not remaining completely silent: there will be small restaurant called Day & Night added to the Capri location.

Dune has sold its soul for roll-on deodorant, becoming The Axe Lounge at Dune for the summer. Nobody every accused owner Noah Tepperberg of not wanting to make a quick buck.

And a good old fashioned bottle service blowout (though the owners have couched this as a kinder-gentler version) will bloom in Bridgehampton (on the Bridge/Sag Turnpike) with the opening of The Harbor Club . with 15 foot high ceilings and 3,000 square feet inside and 2,500 square-foot outdoor area the club, involving LOLA’s James Cruickshank and David Marino and Ben Grieff of Boutique, is nothing if not the only new kind on the block.

The Hamptons: Top 10 New & Buzzy Joints

One of the most buzzed-about Hamptons openings this summer is actually a re-opening of sorts. A group led by Andrew Chapman, who owns August in the West Village (the group’s also rumored to include Jon Bon Jovi, Ronald Perelman and Renee Zellweger — but you may as well throw in Jimmy Hoffa, the Montauk Monster, and Jackson Pollack) is resurrecting The Blue Parrot in East Hampton. The opening’s been set back a few weeks (as just about every restaurant opening since the birth of the Candy Kitchen has been), but when it arrives, the Parrot promises to bring back the “Killer Mexican” still touted on the wooded sign out front, even though the place has been empty since 2006.

Philippe Chow brings his upscale Chinese and plants it out East next to Michael Satsky’s Lily Pond (now offering helicopter rides from Manhattan to the club — seems like a kind of a bull market thing to do) in the space formerly occupied by Kobe Beach Club.

Harnessing the same sort of imagination it took to name Lily Pond, the owners of The Eldridge have christened their just-opened Wainscott eater The Georgica. The expansive Georgica (in the former Saracen space) is apt country estate for the crew, if you consider The Eldridge their city studio. The wide-ranging menu ping-pongs from Italian to New American to a fitting bouillabaisse. After 11 p.m. DJs spin, and the vibe changes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t change into Saracen’s late-night vibe of desperation.

Mezzaluna AMG brings the Northern Italian Mezzaluna cuisine Upper East Siders have grown accustomed to to Amagansett. Owner Jack Luber is pulling the twin trick of opening a new luxe inn at the same time. The Reform Club combines english gardens and art-gallery chic in weekend accommodations.

Alison has vacated the Maidstone and been replaced by The Living Room, which promises to bring the slow food ethos to it’s kitchen, run by local chef James Carpenter. And Rugosa, a new restaurant run by a husband and wife team, takes over the surprisingly shuttered Almoncello space. The team at Sen is flipping it’s Sen Spice concept and turning the space into a new iteration of Phao, the Thai place they ran across the street a few years ago.

Nightclubs are staying put this summer, for the most part. There will be no additional Pink Elephants or the like colonizing the East End. though the big Pink is not remaining completely silent: there will be small restaurant called Day & Night added to the Capri location.

Dune has sold its soul for roll-on deodorant, becoming The Axe Lounge at Dune for the summer. Nobody every accused owner Noah Tepperberg of not wanting to make a quick buck.

And a good old fashioned bottle service blowout (though the owners have couched this as a kinder-gentler version) will bloom in Bridgehampton (on the Bridge/Sag Turnpike) with the opening of The Harbor Club . with 15 foot high ceilings and 3,000 square feet inside and 2,500 square-foot outdoor area the club, involving LOLA’s James Cruickshank and David Marino and Ben Grieff of Boutique, is nothing if not the only new kind on the block.

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Chodorow, Fusion Fan

Jeffrey Chodorow, owner of China Grill, Asia de Cuba, Kobe Club, Ono, and other esteemed global eateries, dishes on Schrager, disses on DiSpirito, then row-row-rows his colorful boat ashore. Point of Origin: I was born in the Bronx, but my father died the year I was born, so my mother and I moved to Miami. I grew up in Miami Beach, where we lived with her sister. They were both manicurists in a Cuban barbershop, and they used to go to Havana for the weekend — which, incidentally, is how Asia de Cuba eventually came to be. I opened China Grill because I knew the Asian and Cuban pantry, so it seemed like a natural. I grew up very poor in a very wealthy Miami area where we went through school drills, hiding under our desks during the Cuban missile crisis. Some friends built a bomb shelter in their property which was nicer than our apartment! This was before Castro came in.

Occupations: With my very logical legal background, I got seduced by the restaurant business in Los Angeles. I was supposed to buy a football team, and I met this guy at Spago. The next day, I was having a meeting with the bank that had the stadium in Foxboro, and we stopped at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. Next thing I knew, I was back in New York, opening China Grill. The guy who had the lease where I wanted the restaurant at 20th and 6th reneged, and another friend who was a broker had a space available immediately under the CBS building at 6th and 52nd. I hated it. It was shaped like a dumbbell, a big barn with a narrow corridor, but the architect said we could make it work. I made two decisions that, in hindsight, were the major factors in the success of China Grill: I moved the entrance from 52nd to 53rd, across from MoMA and the Hilton. At that time, all the customers came from the Upper East Side for the nighttime business. All my friends in the restaurant business said “Four restaurant have failed there,” and I was obligated to be open for lunch. I figured the way to get people in there for dinner was to exempt the first six months from lunch, so when it opened, it only opened for dinner. All the people at CBS complained! I needed to force people to come for dinner, and eventually opened for lunch.

Everybody in the industry speculates that you and Ian Schraeger met in jail. Yes? No? This whole episode is a weird story-in-a-story. By 1987, Ian Schraeger and Steve Rubell were already out of the Morgans Hotel and into the Royalton; their financiers were doing a building up on 6th Avenue. They were supposed to do the restaurant with Brian McNally, but they couldn’t get a liquor license (Brian didn’t have any money at the time), so they wanted to meet me. They came and asked if I’d like to do 44 in the Royalton for them. I met Steve first. We share a passion for Twizzlers licorice, and there was a jar in his office. Then I met Ian. They both told me the story of how the Royalton was going to be the next generation of a social gathering. The whole thing sort of seduced me into the mix. It was like oil and water, but they put up all of the money for everything but the liquor license. I don’t know why this was, but Ian said, “We’ll put up all the money for the hotel, and you put up all of the money to open the restaurant (payroll, graphics, etc).” There was a hitch. They wanted me to buy a Phillipe Starck hostess stand, a kind of Winged Victory of burled walnut that was tapered from the top down. It cost $30,000. Ian said, “Look, Jeff, if you want to do the deal, you’ve got to buy the stand.” It was impractical, there was no top, there was no drawer space, there was no place for the phone — I had to put Velcro on it — but it was a gorgeous piece of furniture. I put the stand next to the hotel column, so when you enter the hotel, you look down the blue carpet and see this beautiful piece of furniture.

China Grill in Manhattan was on fire, too and before long, Ian called me, “Nobody said the idea wouldn’t travel; how about you do the space in Morgans Hotel? I know it’s a bad location, but I’ll give you a fabulous deal.” I only made one condition after the Royalton: I wasn’t enjoying it because I felt pigeonholed to do a hotel restaurant. I called Ian and told him that I wanted to do a restaurant in a hotel, not a hotel restaurant. The deal was done. Jefferson Carey was my first chef of Asia de Cuba, and I felt the menu had to be a certain type. At the time there was no fusion, so it was revolutionary in those days. But I thought if I could create demand from outside the hotel, it would work. I was set on Chino Latino restaurants. He was amazed. He had just gotten engaged, and his fiancé was Cuban. Later, the New York Times said the newest thing was a Nuevo Latino restaurant — mine. Meanwhile, Brian had opened in Ian’s Delano in Miami, and it was doing good business, but doing no money. So Ian asked me to take it over in 1996. It became Asia de Cuba.

Any non-industry projects in the works? I would say, I’m interested mostly in food related things, my other big interest is IICA contemporary art at [alma mater] Penn, and I have donated a reasonable amount of money to the school. My son was also at Penn and is interested in contemporary art, plus I thought it was an opportunity to do something. Also, there are a lot of creative people out there … great cooks who aren’t chefs. Ask Rocco [DiSpirito], one of the contestants on Dancing with the Stars!

Favorite Hangs: My favorite hangouts are not all in New York. I love some of the Cuban places in Miami like Yakosan, a place in North Miami Beach, a Japanese tapas bar with all small plates. I like quirky things. They also have spaghetti bolognese; all of the sushi chefs hang out there. I like Versailles; Ciochi, the place on Sixth and Collins, a Cuban hole-in-the-wall for the Cuban sandwiches and black bean soup, and the Latin American Cafe. In New York, the Cuban hangouts like Park Blue with its list of half-bottles of wine and phenomenal drinks; Sakagura on 43rd between 2nd and 3rd, on the north side of the street, in a white office building … on the floor there’s a little sign for Sakagura. You walk past the front desk to the fire exit and down the stairs to the wooden door that leads to the sake bar. No sushi, just small plates of Japanese food, across from Sushi Yasuda. In the basement, it’s all surprise. I like the old style places. I love Dan Tana’s in LA. I love Nanni’s on 46th. Old time places … they’re not trying to do anything modern. There are certain dishes on the menu where the food is great. They’re hangouts I gravitate to — the old stuff. I try all the new stuff.

Industry Icons: I think the reason my relationship with Ian works so well is that we had so much mutual respect for each other. He gave me the ability to think beyond what I knew. I realized when I got back together with him that if you looked at it objectively, it would make no sense, but he was so successful that you couldn’t pick it apart as to what made it so successful. When I opened Asia de Cuba in Morgans Hotel, he wanted to send out a postcard. So I get the mock-up, and the front is like a beautiful photo of Morgans with three doors, a great postcard. The estimated price was $80,000 — and it was 1997! I almost fell off my chair. That was why our relationship worked: It may not have made sense to me, but if he felt passionate, I respected his vision and he respected my business acumen. Ian Schrager and Drew Nieporent, we’re all battling the same battles. I have tremendous respect for them, and I don’t view it as competition. I feel that we’re just up against the same thing.

Who are some people you’re likely to be seen with? I think I’m kind of a private person. I’d rather spend time with my family than anybody. Of course, we socialize, but there’s nobody in particular that I spend an inordinate amount of time with.

Projections: Right now, I’m very focused on international, and I want to do India and China. I just got back from Monte Carlo. It’s such an international place, and you wouldn’t know there was a global community there.

What are you doing tonight? Last night, I took my wife to Georgica Pond for three hours with lobster. I was on the phone the entire day and I was actually impressed that I could row that far! But I was an Eagle Scout and had a canoeing badge. Tonight, I’m having dinner with my eldest son who graduated from Wharton last year, and is going to law school. I’ve offered him a job! We opened the Kobe Beach Club in the Hamptons next to the Lily Pond, and he decided to open Kobe Hot Dogs! When I was doing Ono, he was closely watching! He went out and got the equipment, brought the chef and the relishes and these special iced teas and a papaya drinks … he’s a bright kid. I have a 19-year-old who wants to be a sushi chef. He’s at his first year at Boston University. A few years ago he wanted an apprenticeship in Tokyo in a sushi restaurant in the Chanel building. So being a foodie has really paid off for the whole family.

Industry Insiders: Mory Traore, Model Magnet

“I Hate Models” promoter Mory Traore waxes on why his parties have the most runway talent, ditching the police force, turning shit into gold, and how to combat corruption in Africa.

Point of Origin: I’m from Guinea, West Africa. Came to New York as a student and got a criminology degree from John Jay College. Then I was working for New York Department of Investigation for about seven months until I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Basically it was a military organization with hierarchy, orders — not the kind of place I function well. I didn’t have freedom. I’m really creative and I couldn’t use it, so I took off and went to Eastern Europe and traveled. And I thought, “OK, when I go back to New York what am I gonna do?” I was in Romania on a train at night writing these things down and I said, “From here on any job I do: no stress. What makes me happy? I love to party. I love beautiful girls. I love to travel.”

I wrote all this down. And I said, “All these things here are things I have to get paid to do. That’s the only way to get a job that makes me happy.” So I started model scouting. I was calling agencies and traveling and telling them if they wanted to pay my travel costs, I will bring you people, then we’ll sit down and figure out the rate or the percentage. So that’s how I got started.

So right around that time, I started promoting a little bit at the club Life. That was the first night I did. I told Steve Lewis, who ran it, that I wanted to start promoting, and he said, “Are you sure?” He told me, “I think you can do it. You know so many people.” They were just paying me per person at first. I know myself. I always do this kind of thing. I want to prove myself to people. I make people depend on me. Once you do so well that their night depends on you, then if you leave, their night is nothing, and you can ask for anything. And I always get it. No promoter gets more than I do, because I know exactly the value of what I do. $1,500, $1,000 is not what I do. What I do is I sell you an image, and this is the image you pay me for. I turn shit into gold. I used to do places like Arena, Air (where Kiss and Fly is now). Tenjune. Places like that. You talk to people at Tenjune, they’re gonna say its because of Mory that they got to this spot. This is what I sell.

Occupations: Right now I do six parties Tuesday through Saturday. I work five nights and one of the nights is two parties. Tuesday’s at Tenjune, Wednesday at Kiss and Fly, Thursday at Tenjune again. Friday at Highbar first, then Bijoux later that night. And Saturdays in the Hamptons at Lily Pond.

Are you at all your parties? Always. My main principle for myself is I have to be there. Unless I’m traveling. That’s another concept with working in a group because most clubs are stealing people that work with me cause they want to break me. Like Ricardo that used to work with me. Or Justin Melnick, or Nicky P. All these guys were working for me, and they come and take them away thinking they’re gonna weaken me. But it’s like the Africans say: If you want to kill the snake, you have to cut the head, not the tail, cause if you cut the tail it’s just gonna regroup and go on. And now what I did is I have a big team of about six trusted people. My brother Fontaine cause nobody can take him away. [Some Italian promoters] work with me now to replace the Italian element in Ricardo. I met them in Ibiza, saw them working, so I know they know how to do things. I just had to train them in the New York style.

What is that style? I know you have a big model crowd. What sets your party apart? What we do is not just the models, it’s a fashion crowd. We do focus more on that. Most promoters have a little circle of models that they go around with, but we go for the quantity of the quality. We try to get the most model girls. A lot of them.

Would you say you are the king of the models in New York? People say this. People tell me I know more models than anybody else. But I don’t know because I don’t go to other parties to make a comparison because most of the time I go to my own party. Because if I’m having my own party one night, I won’t go to another person’s party that night. I think about it the reverse way. What am I gonna think if I’m at my party and I see [a rival promoter] at my party? I’ll think, “Their party probably sucks if they are at my party.”

So of all the parties you’ve done over the years, what’s your favorite? That little shitty place Suede. Friday was just insane over there. And also Air.

Was the Suede party with Danny A? No, he was doing another night. We never did the same night together.

Do you ever work with other promoters in conjunction on the same party? I usually tell the clubs — cause we charge them a lot of money — if you want to hire other people, that’s fine, but you don’t need it because not only do we bring the models, we bring the bottles, you know. And we have all the regular [people], the masses. Like the text messages I send. I have three thousand numbers in my phone.

Those texts (which are quirky, slightly absurd, and often include the word “model” in some way) are pretty memorable to say the least. Who writes them? I do! (laughing) I just think about regular things, certain things you read or something and turn it around. Someone says something funny, you twist it around. You’ll have a conversation, and I remember it and write it down. I have a little book where I write them down.

Do you have a backlog of texts? Yeah.

Do you recycle them? Rarely, because people remember them, so I try not to (laughing). I had a book full of them before, and I lost it in Cannes. I was so pissed. I had so many because I was on vacation, so I had time to write a lot of them.

What other places do you like to hang out? I know you said you don’t go to other peoples parties necessarily. I go, usually when I have to. Because sometimes the girls want to go to another place if they don’t want to go home. I party for basically work, and of course I have fun and I enjoy it, but when I don’t have to party, I try to go home and sleep to conserve my energy. Especially when you work six parties a week!

Projections: I have a party in Milan for Fashion Week with Muse magazine, and then my birthday in Paris for Fashion Week with Major Model Management. And then we have a party for “I Hate Models.” We made 900 T-shirts with the “I Hate Models” logo, and we’re gonna give them to all the models to wear.

Tell me about the model dinners. It’s usually mainly models that we invite. Again, we do the quantity of the quality. We try to invite anybody that wants to come, but they gotta be models. We can have like 40 or 50 girls. We get 50% off, and we pay for it. We prefer to pay … it’s better than the regular model dinner.

The girls already eat 50% less. What’s 50% of a salad? Exactly. It works for us. When you have these buffets, people don’t feel special. It’s like you’re a cow. I wouldn’t want to come to a dinner where someone invites me, and someone just puts some food on your plate in front of you. We tell them we want the menu. We know the models don’t eat that much, so we get the menu and get 50% off. We’ll pay for it. Sometimes it’s a lot, like two or three thousand dollars, but we think about the future. All the girls that go out with us know the things we do are really good — it’s not shitty things or low-quality stuff.

How is your relationship with the modeling agencies? Good relationships with most, but a lot of the agencies don’t want their girls to go out. So we have relationships with the girls directly. With the agencies, we’ll do special parties, special events. Some bookers will call me once in a while if they want to go out, and they bring some girls. But we don’t depend on the bookers.

Side projects? When I was in Africa last time, and I go very often, I started looking at the possibility of starting a charity. There have only been two regimes since 1958, both very corrupt governments. Corruption is institutionalized. So even if there’s a new regime that’s very conscious of [eradicating] corruption, and it took 50 years to create that culture of corruption, it’s going to take another 50 years to deprogram that culture. I think the path to development is Internet and technology. It has to come to everybody, like it did in China, or Eastern Europe, or India. That is how you get into the global market, so you don’t have to go through the government to get things done. It’s essential. So I’m looking to work with a company to start bringing computer technology to my country because I want everyone in the whole country to get on the Internet, for people to see what’s happening in the rest of the world, so people will be empowered. So that’s something I’m looking to get involved with.

What are you doing tonight? Kiss and Fly. So you want to kiss and fly tonight? You might fly away with a girl.