Risky Business: Nightlife Pro Lindsay Risk On Joining B.R. Guest and Launching Kibo

When I used to actually run joints, people were often surprised that I did "day" work. They though the night life was showing up at 10pm, acting suave and sophisticated and witty, and then engaging in a spiral of booze and drugs that ended with a crash, burn, rinse, and a repeat. I have met very few successful people in this business that can pull that kind of act off. Those types get left by the cab stand pretty early. The norm in the business is educated, hardworking, creative business types that maintain office hours and desks and have a large support staff. What happens at night is the work of long hours by day, which includes analysis and often lots of risk and soul searching.

When speaking of risk, my mind always wanders to my pal, Lindsay Risk, a nightlife professional who has had enormous success with the Gerber Group until recently popping over to Steve Hanson’s empire B.R. Guest. She is a 24-hour create-a good-party kind of person. When she dreams, the music and the clang of glassware are always there. She wakes up raring to go…to get to her new challenge and succeed. Success drives her car and she is bringing this drive to the old Japonais space. She is, as the song goes, “spinning" this property "right round like a record baby.” She is making the necessary changes while balancing the parent companies’ mantra. She is spinning it all on The Loft, a sexy perch overlooking the restaurant, which has been renamed Kibo. It means "the wish,” or something. Lindsay’s wish is to reinvigorate this great off-Park Avenue property and then move on to the next. Real night-lifers have to keep moving on…to the next.

You have come over to Steve Hanson’s company after a very successful stint working with Scott and Randy Gerber. What is it about you that has these empire builders wanting you on board? And why are you attracted to working for these top-tier companies?
My favorite quote that my father preached was "The best or nothing – that is what drives us.” I grew up with the Gerbers and they will always be my family. They threw me challenges from age 18 to 29 that were, at the time, unattainable, especially "being a girl in a man’s world," but they trusted me. Guest came about when I was the GM at The Living Room TSQ/ Whiskey from 2007-2009. I made relationships with the managers at Blue Fin/Steve Hanson property. I saw the intensity and the perfection of the operation and always had it in the back of my head that "Wow, they really define hospitality." BR Guest took a liking to me, because of my appetite for creation, my ability to invigorate, and my favorite saying: "MIH"-Make it Happen.”

The property you are working on was the once-successful Japonais space of Park Avenue South. How will you reinvigorate this property? What are the hurdles you see before you? What are the pluses of Kibo?
Kibo is a space that is off the beaten path of Park Ave., which is a hurdle, but people find secret underground coves for "speakeasy" cocktails, so I have written this off as an actual obstacle. It is a monster in terms of size and it is absolutely beautiful! The Loft space is a nook that is now unveiled and it has become my baby!  It is simply peerless and slightly secretive. It is a perfect date spot mid-week, and on the weekends it’s not cheesy or pretentious.

You have had some great early success at Kibo. What is your goal with the property?
Our recent success has been a collaborative effort: an amazing dinner by Joel Roubuchon in Kibo, cocktails in The Loft. Most of our guests stay for the duration of the night because the music is that good, but some look for late-night club spots: 675, The Bunker Club. Regardless, the experience at Kibo is sexy, fun, stress-free, and a repeat destination.

Tell me about your music programming. At Gerber, that would have been someone else’s specific job. Do you have more freedom to put your stamp on Kibo?
I was given the freedom to "put my stamp on Kibo.” which has been amazing! We’ve had a tremendous amount of positive feedback in terms of our music selection.

I’ve eaten there two times so far and the experience was wonderful. How do you add a nightlife component without negatively impacting the food program?
The "nightlife" aspect at Kibo is an added component that is rapidly growing. Kibo is a destination restaurant for the cuisine. My vision is a one-stop destination. You enjoy an amazing meal, and then you party in the The Loft with the option of bottle service, a glass of rose, or a cold beer.

Gerber Group Celebrates 20 Years @ Stone Rose NYC

Last night, co-founder of the Gerber Group Scott Gerber welcomed a few hundred friends and fans to the Stone Rose Lounge in New York’s Time Warner Center for a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary.

Founded by brothers Scott and Rande when they were a real estate investor and a working model with a penchant for nightlife respectively, the company has grown to include more than 20 different nightlife concepts, from chilled-out lounge spaces to poolside bars. Their longstanding relationship with the W Hotel Group has made their bars a favorite of many business travelers.

When asked what he thought was the secret of their success, Gerber immediately singled out their emphasis on service. Regular spot-checks are made at all their venues by higher-ups in the company, who look for everything from the warmth and presentation of individual staff members to tiny, almost unnoticeable details: Cocktails are always presented with a napkin, and beer bottles are always presented with the label out, for instance. We observed over the course of the night that even in the frenzy of a bar packed three-deep, the Stone Rose staff did in fact stick to these rules.

It was far from a working evening, however—the corner stage that’s seen everything from a DJ booth to a jazz trio hosted Fitz and the Tantrums for a short, lively set, and a staffer protected his laptop from spilled drinks all night long in order to Twitter live from the crowd; we said hi and got a response within seconds. With that level of commitment to responsiveness and a willingness to prioritize new trends along with classic, consistent service, we’re confident they can look forward to another 20 successful years.

Top of the World: The Highest Places to Get a Drink

Opened in March 2011, Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is 118 floors up, overlooking all of Victoria Harbor. They serve pan-Asian tapas and signature cocktails in an exciting, weirdly futuristic setting that takes up most of the floor.

Shanghai is home to two notably elevated hotel bars that compete on a nightly basis for the city’s elite. The Grand Hyatt’s Cloud 9 is on the 87th floor with a 360 degree view of the city; it’s a surprisingly intimate atmosphere for such a dramatic space. The Music Room on the Park Hyatt’s 92nd floor is more of a clublike atmosphere, with live music, DJs, and an extensive cocktail list.

Unsurprisingly, the highest bar in the world is in Dubai, where they do everything just a little bit bigger. At.mosphere is on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, where it’s a destination for visitors seeking an incredible view of the city, as well as locals hosting some very memorable business lunches or a drink in the upscale lounge.

It may not set any records, but The Penthouse at the top of the Hotel ME Madrid is one of the prettiest views of any city, anywhere. Created by Rande and Scott Gerber with their signature laid-back, high-end atmosphere, a private elevator brings you to an elegant rooftop, with plenty of beds for laying back and enjoying the view of the Plaza Santa Ana, as well as the crowd of beautiful people that populate the terrace.

The 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok Hotel is given over to two elegant, though slightly different, outdoor spaces: the Vertigo restaurant, specializing in seafood and steaks, and the aptly-named Moon Bar, a glittering open-air lounge with a panoramic view of the city.

The Earth Quakes in the South, We Feel It in the North

An earthquake in Chile left me limp. The world seems to be doling out one disaster after another. We are bombarded with bad news on a daily basis, to a point where we are anesthetized to reality and we seek out mind-numbing reality TV or a zillion western world distractions. Crises like Haiti, global warming, Iraq-astan, health care bills, Governor Patterson’s campaign or massive chunks of melting arctic ice, go in one ear and out the Grey Goose bottle, unless we are able to put a face on it. Celebrities usually provide that face and we come to know the magnitude of the disaster through their words. Rarely do we know someone personally affected. In the club scene, we happen to have a Haitian friend or two, in the form of a club owner, DJ or promoter, who made it a more personal tragedy for us. There is no such connection with Chile, a place so foreign and far away to most of us that it seems almost mythical. Yet a quake 500 times the magnitude of the quake that devastated Haiti, has left at least 700 dead, many more injured and people sleeping on the streets of Chile for fear of aftershocks. We barely blink. Figure skating and snowboarding scores are far more important to the world.

Clubdom does have at least one familiar face in Chile. On February 10th, a date that seems such a long time ago, this column congratulated Scott and Rande Gerber for the opening of three new properties within the W Hotel in Santiago. Our friend Lindsay Risk, (an incredibly appropriate surname), is down there opening those joints up. Back then I wrote, “If I ever find myself in Santiago, Chile, maybe visiting my friend Lindsey Risk, I’ll stay at The W and visit the Gerber Group’s Whiskey Blue, W Lounge and Red 2 One. I know I can expect high design and great service.” Just a couple days ago, prior to the disaster, she asked when I was going down to visit and I replied “Never.” She told me she’d be “coming home to Soho real soon.” Her Facebook page has been a major source of communication for us while she was down there, now her Facebook page is filled with concerned friends and family trying to reach her.

Last month’s distraction, Rachel Uchitel, pleaded with Lindsay on her Facebook page to contact us. She wrote, “LINDSAY. YOUR PHONE ISNT WORKING. UPDATE YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE AS SOON AS YOU CAN SO EVERYONE KNOWS IF YOU’RE OKAY. I’M CALLING THE W NOW…” Lindsay finally responded to everyone, “Love u, thanks for reaching out. So scary. Felt like the world was ending, but everyone is OK here. So much help needed. Will send you fundraiser info. Xoxox” That was Saturday night and there has been nothing since. My prayers go out to Lindsay and Chile and to all of us. Our world seems to be teetering under the weight of our psychosis. All this just feels like the tip of one of those giant icebergs that have just broken off Antarctica.

The new iceberg has been described as being the size of Luxembourg in Europe, or the state of Connecticut in the US. This could spell trouble for the oceans, scientist told media on Friday, as it could affect global ocean circulation with the melt from the ice.

And we’re worried about a little snow.

An Interview with Gerber Group’s Mystery Man, Scott Gerber

A few years back, when I was a partner in SLDesign, I had the pleasure of working with Scott and Rande Gerber, who hired us to work on their rooftop at the W Hotel Buckhead. Rande Gerber is, of course, that former ex-model who is married to Cindy Crawford and is the face of such brands as the Whiskey, Whiskey Blue, Whiskey Sky, Whiskey Park, Whiskey Bar and Grill, Wetbar, Underbar…you get the idea. He also heads up those Stone Rose joints. With somewhere near 30 properties worldwide, Gerber Group is one of the world’s top hospitality brands.

The Gerber group just opened three new venues in the new W Santiago and a Stone Rose Bar and Grill at the JFK Delta terminal. They also offer the midnight bar collection, which is a complete line of seven essential cocktail mixers “made with all the finest all natural ingredients.” With all these amazing achievements and projected developments, Rande Gerber and the Gerber group are household names. However, my Chihuahua has almost as much name recognition as Rande’s brother and partner Scott Gerber.

A google search of his name took me to a ton of Rande links. But Scott Gerber is responsible for directing all of the business operations, including new business development, negotiating partnerships, liaison with property owners, overseeing management and coordinating construction of the properties. He is a gentleman and a scholar with a BS in finance from the University of Arizona. I caught up with Scott yesterday and shot him a couple of questions. He’s a very busy guy.

I googled you and found practically nothing. It basically just refers people to your brother Rande or the Gerber group. Why do you prefer being in the background? It’s much safer that way. [Laughs]. I run the business end of the business. Rande is more involved with the design and aesthetic.

We all know that Rande is much more than just a pretty face. Is there a clear separation of duties? Yes, there’s a clear delineation. Rande wouldn’t get involved with the day-to-day operations.

How many places are you operating and how many more are in the works? We operate 30 properties and we’re having conversations about 10 more. Probably we’ll start up 5 of these this year.

This JFK Stone Rose Bar and Grill fascinates me. Nowhere in my experience is food and service worse than at an airport. I guess that’s changing. Tell me about your synergy with Delta. Our midnight bar collection is being served on Delta flights. Instead of just getting a little bottle and a mixer we make margaritas and cosmos. We teamed with Delta on this and it’s an in-flight revolution. I travel every other week and I know what has been available to a traveler. Were often waiting for a plane for one, two or even five hours. At Stone Rose we have a full bar and menu so you have a relaxed and stylish spot while you are waiting. Our menu gives you a great sandwich or steak and a variety of bites like buffalo mozzarella salad, buffalo wings. Much more than the typical traveling fare.

I guess with increased security we are all forced to spend more time in the airports waiting. Did that extra time factor into your decision to open an airport location? Of course. Travelers are told to be there two hours before their flight. Everyone comes at least one hour early. We wanted to provide something besides the cheesy places that are currently the norm. You can now get a great drink and food while you wait for your plane. Delta asked us to get involved as they try to take their brand more upscale. They even have David Barton exercise facilities at their terminal at JFK.

As hospitality drives the major hotel chains, the Gerber group is the big kid on the block. The Stone Rose in JFK raises the bar and creates a whole new market for food and beverage brands. I’m sure that very soon other hospitality groups will get into the act. Will it be long before we see Pure at the Las Vegas airport? Or Tao, LAX? How about La Esquina, LaGuardia? Customers want things the way they want them, and that means everywhere. They want Whole Foods not Met Foods. They want high end design and style in their boutique hotel, not just in the room, but in the clubs and restaurants that bring the beautiful locals to them. Luxury, boutique brands, with increasingly enhanced amenities, will be available to them wherever they go. Thank god I have a place to hang and eat at JFK. The Delta brand means something more to me today than it did the last time I traveled. What a great idea. If I ever find myself in Santiago, Chile, maybe visiting my friend Lindsey Risk, I’ll stay at The W and visit the Gerber Group’s Whiskey Blue, W Lounge and Red 2 One. I know I can expect high design, great service and an understanding of my needs.