Chuck Bass Joins the Hotel Gold Rush

TV is simply a place where people go when they get tired of thinking. — Kevin Devitte

The three-day weekend left me limp but bored, so I attended a Gossip Girl dinner with friends. I have an impossible work week ahead of me and wanted to get my mind out of the business and back in the gutter where it belongs. However, there was no escape for me, as the storyline of “the greatest show ever” had Chuck Bass buying a club. He spends the show trying to obtain a Patrick McMullan photo of the king of nightlife, Sean MacPherson. In the real world, Sean and partner Eric Goode are building one great place after another. The Jane Hotel, the Bowery Hotel, and the Maritime, as well as B Bar and the Park. These joints will soon be joined by a couple of new locations. A very secretive pal of mine tells me that Sean and Eric very secretively just started building something on the southeast corner of 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue. My source is a very quiet guy. It’s as if every word spoken takes a day off his life. If that was me, I’d have been in the ground 25 years ago.

Anyway, I asked my source if he was sure it was Eric and Sean, and he answered “yes.”

Sean had a couple of lines in praise of the prized Patrick McMullan photo presented to him by the ambitious Mr. Bass. He also stared wide-eyed at his devious assistant when Chuck exposed her as the “blank” she truly is. The best way to describe Sean’s acting ability is to say he’s a really good hotel/club/restaurant operator. In the end, Chuck Bass decided: why just buy a club? Why not go for the whole thing and buy a hotel? So he snatched up the Empire Hotel. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I want to be on Gossip Girl and write how fabulous Chuck, Blair, and Serena are. Or maybe I can redux that pool deck.

If Chuck gets his hotel, he will be joining an elite group of educated and savvy operators that are now changing nightlife as we know it. Not content to sell rooms with views, room service, and minibars, they are snatching up nightlife to drive their hotel brands. The old hotels only had tourists who needed a bed and such. The new hotels are for New Yorkers. We New Yorkers make the hotels chic, and the tourist crowd brings fresh meat to the table with rooms and room service just a button-push away. It’s all very sexy and chic.

Ian Schrager leads the pack simply because he and his partner Steve Rubell did lead the way. These post-Studio 54 players gave us Morgans, the Paramount, and the Royalton long before the term “boutique hotel” was invented. Ian’s Gramercy Park Hotel set a new standard, as the Rose Bar drove the brand to the New York crowd. André Balazs and his Standard join his Mercer and other properties — he is the big man on campus right now. His Cornell and Columbia education are typical of this new group. The previous generation of club owners have business training instead of André’s humanities degrees. The generation before were dropouts with eyes towards art and women and other distractions. These hotel groups have layers of lawyers and designers and professionals at their fingertips. Thus you have the Donald and his Trump Soho joining the hunt, while Paul Stallings teams with the Eldridge’s Matt Levine to drive his Hotel on Rivington. Jason Pomeranc with his Thompson Hotels makes for a formidable force . Then there’s the Ganesvoort, the Cooper Square, and even a Robert DeNiro entry on Greenwich. And now we have Eric Goode and TV star Sean MacPherson.

Our future nightlife experience will now be accessed by elevators. Will chic elevator hosts be far away? Will table arrangements be made while you ascend ? Will there be keypads in the elevator allowing you to order the Goose on the ride up? Don’t worry too much — there is bound to be a backlash, a return to the intimate and slimy. It always happens. In fact, I’ll tell you all about it real soon.

Speaking of slimy:. The following conversation appeared on my Facebook page. The names have been removed to protect the innocent:

Person c) friends of mine hold the liquor license to the limelight space and are in the process of trying to reopen it. If anyone is serious and knows investors with real money and are willing to see a business plan and hear a proposal let me know. But like I sad please serious people only!

Person b) limelight is going to be an 80 shop shopping place.. Super lame

Person c) that’s what the landlord is pushing for however its not going to happen. like I said if there is anyone with real money willing to speak to myself and my partners about this project let me know! Don’t believe everything you read in the press!

This is meant for those serious investor types cruising Facebook for opportunities. You know, the guys with “real money.” The return of the Slimelight will never happen, and the we need not worry about that. It was a great club for a moment. This thread continued to speak of it and that time as being the greatest days of nightlife. It just isn’t true. The period before — starting with Studio 54 and including Area, Danceteria, Paradise Garage, Mudd Club, and Max’s Kansas City — was far more fun and relevant. The Limelight was a great club, but it had a soulless center of greed and power; it lacked a base in the art world and was far more drug-fueled than most places. Its time has come and gone. I’m going to go visit and buy some socks or something as soon as I can. For the lost souls who want to relive it, I suggest opening up a concession stand in the new Limelight mall. Sell t-shirts and memorabilia and such to those who care. Alas, I suspect few will answer the call . It’s over.

Also: Today is the runoff election between David Yassky and John Liu for the Democratic nominee for controller. Whoever wins today will surely win in November. There will be a very small turnout, so your vote counts. David Yassky is great for what ails us. Please get out and support him.

Industry Insiders: Darin Rubell, Gallery Cat

Darin Rubell is transforming the Lower East Side, one arts and culture venue at a time. The owner of Gallery Bar and Ella (opened last fall with partners Josh and Jordan Boyd) is no stranger to the ins and outs of nightlife. Let’s just say it runs in the family — his cousin is legendary Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell.

How’s business? Business is great. Obviously, it’s tougher during a recession. Over the past six months, bars I initially thought were recession-proof have turned out not to be. Everyone has to work a little harder to maintain.

How have you adjusted to become recession-proof? We started a half-price happy hour at Ella. Our cocktails were normally $12, and we started a $6 Happy Hour, which has been tremendously successful. It’s every night from 6-10pm. The response has been great. We have live jazz as well.

How has the clientele at Ella changed since you opened last year? When you first open a place, you have everyone who’s keeping up with the Joneses coming in, and then as the months go on, it starts to become more neighborhood people and more people who actually like the bar. Having regulars is always nicer.

What’s the story with the piano lounge downstairs? It’s a very intimate room, holds around 60 people. We’ve had incredible musicians. Just last week, Ben Taylor — who is James Taylor and Carly Simon’s son — had a video release party, and did a live performance. We love big name bands, but we also like to find acts that are on the cusp. For instance, Diane Birch, who’s been all over the place, was doing a weekly showcase downstairs over the past four months. We have another band from Miami called Big Bounce. It’s a two-man group, with Brandon O’Hara, a guy who plays the piano, and a beat boxer. They come up to play here once a month.

What’s going on at Gallery Bar? Gallery Bar is two and a half years old now, and it’s equally as successful the date it opened until today. It’s a really diverse space, and it lends itself to a lot of different things, whether they’re corporate events, fundraisers, or charities. Every month we change the artist, so all of the art switches.

Did Gallery Bar influence the opening of Collective Hardware? The Lower East Side has always been a place where artists would go because it was very inexpensive, and then everyone started to get priced out of the neighborhood. The art side started to fade for a minute. When we came into the neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of galleries down here. After we opened the space there was a huge influx of artists. It became an artists’ hangout. Galleries in the Lower East Side started opening, slower, slower, slower. Now, I do a map also of all galleries on the LES, and I had 99 galleries for the last one. I had to limit them down to 55 for the purpose of the map. The New Museum is also a tremendous push for art down here. I think that Collective Hardware probably saw this and recognized that this is also, once again, a booming area for art.

What’s the story with your maps? I originally tried to make money off this map and I thought it’d be a great marketing tool. And I realized that it’s very difficult to get money from all the galleries, because these people are moving from other areas because they can’t afford things as is. Then I decided that I was still going to do it because I think it’s necessary, and I was sick of having people come into Gallery Bar and asking about other galleries in the neighborhood. After a month or two, I started to see people walking around the neighborhood with them. I swear to God, every day, I see somebody with that map. It’s important to try to create some unity down here. In Chelsea, all the galleries are in a three-block radius. In the Lower East Side, they’re not. I’m from New York, and I still get confused in the Lower East Side.

True that you’re thinking about expanding Gallery Bar into other cities? I think that a lot of people have tried to combine art and nightlife and have done it unsuccessfully. What they’ll do is they’ll have a dark bar, and then ask artists to put work on the walls, and it gets lost in the environment because there’s a lot going on in a bar already. The concept with Gallery Bar was to make it a gallery first. We make it look like a gallery; make it feel like a gallery; change the artists every day; have art openings; have art closings. I think that this concept has still never been done, and I’d love to bring it to other cities. We’re talking about New Orleans, L.A., Miami.

How did you meet your partners in Ella, Josh and Jordan? I was managing a restaurant called Chango, and I’d hired Josh as a bartender. When Chango started to slow down, we’d always start bouncing ideas off each other. We started writing business plans, and I, at that time, had really wanted to open up a restaurant. Josh really wanted to open up a bar. I actually opened up Mercadito, and he had opened Plan B, and about two years later, we started to think of new projects. I found this place on Orchard Street, and we thought, “Okay, now’s the time.” Josh and Jordan are brothers, and I’m like the third brother.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring restaurateurs or bar owners? I think that a lot of the people who want to get into the business of restaurants and bars have this fantasy about what it’s going to be like. You can’t just walk into it and think that because you want a place and have the money to open up a place that it’s going to succeed. I think like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of knowledge of the business in order to have success.

Besides hard work and knowledge of the business, what has made you and your partners successful? I think we genuinely love what we do, and any time you love what you do, you’re going to do well. I really believe that.

Who else does it right in nightlife? I really admire Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Their design is always so incredibly spot-on, and their properties always seem larger than life.

What are your favorite spots? I’m simple in the fact that I love Lil’ Frankie’s. I like Supper. If you can accomplish something, and make it very simple and inexpensive and for-the-people, then you’ll always be successful. I don’t really like going to the fanciest restaurants and feeling uncomfortable. I feel I’m my happiest in a place that keeps it simple.

First Look: Jane Hotel & Ballroom

I entered the historic Jane Hotel (see gallery) and was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It was here that I tried my first attempt to make money at clubbing. It was at that time a decrepit hotel with a balcony all around. Hotelier/proprietor Sean MacPherson showed me where this upper level was. “It was kind of silly, as it blocked the windows.” I told him that my deal was revenue-sensitive and that I actually jumped behind the bar to replace a rather slow (in many ways) bartender. Even then, I wouldn’t tolerate incompetence. It was a rough punk crowd with mohawks, torn jeans, and stomping boots. I think the Undead, a band I managed, were on stage, or was it “Khmer Rouge”? Time and impatience burn brain cells. The party was tattooed in my cerebrum when a leather-clad hardcore menace leaped from the balcony onto the bar as I served up a couple of brews. It was bedlam, and lots of fun.

I caught up with Matt Kliegman, who, along with Carlos Quirarte, will run this spot for Sean and Eric Goode. Matt and Carlos are coming off the mega-successful The Smile on Bond Street. They are to the north-of-Houston creative set what Gitane is to the south . That’s good food and a meaningful hang among neighbors and friends who think that art, beauty, and style are important, especially at a meal. The Smile is doing breakfast and lunch right now, but they’re waiting on a beer and wine license before they delve into dinner. A private dinner party last week had all the eating blogs buzzing. Matt said he liked the way it felt but will patiently wait for the license to get it right. Meanwhile, the Jane Ballroom is opening next Tuesday, and it’s the real deal.

Coincidentally, Matt had a year-and-a-half stint as a party promoter in his youth, and it was here that he ruled the roost. My dear friend Pavan suggested the remote SRO-type hotel as a venue option. Now, Matt and Carlos cater to what I describe as a post-hipster crowd — that’s peeps who lived the tragically hip lifestyle, but their careers and social and even economic circles now ask for a different type of nighttime boite. It’s a creative crowd, or those who are drawn to that crowd.

The Jane is stunning. It is brilliantly functional. It is fun. I love every inch of it. It is comfort taken to a new level. It is to me a cross between the old Spy Bar and Rose Bar. Wass Stevens said to me the other day, when describing the magnificent Avenue, where he hosts the door: “If you don t remember Spy Bar, maybe you don’t belong.” I think the Jane Ballroom will appeal to a broader crowd, and that analogy really won’t apply here — but I just wanted to quote Wass. There are lots of hiding places at Jane. I was surprised there wasn’t an outdoor space, but then Sean showed me one under development. Jane Ballroom is a lounge with the feel of a grand hotel lobby. It’s the kind of place where I would order a sidecar even though I’ve never tried one. There will be a Monday movie night from “up the river,” and maybe something live on Tuesday. The place will open at 6pm ’cause it’s got those chops — and it will go late because the public will not want to go home, ever.
The Tragically Hip Tickets

Industry Insiders: Med Abrous, Mile-High Mover

Thompson Hotels’ director of promotions and entertainment Med Abrous, on his once-in-a-lifetime guest performance with Prince, bringing movie night to clubs and the bright side of the bottle-service decline.

What’s the best night you’ve ever had at one of your venues? A little over a year ago, I put together some concerts in the Roosevelt Ballroom for Prince. He performed six shows for about 300 people per show. It was so intimate, and he put on such an amazing show. During the third show, I’m sitting with a group of people — the crowd was almost more famous than he was, which is really weird — and he starts playing this riff, then calls my name and says, “Yo Med! Get up here.” So I get up onstage with Prince, and he’s playing “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” and I basically sing onstage with him playing backup guitar. It was amazing. I have a picture to prove it because it sounds like such a tall tale. I think that was pretty much the highlight of my life.

Was your performance any good? You know what? I have moves. I’ve really got moves. I was even doing mic stand tricks; I was milking it. Can I sing? Not really. But I put on a show — I was very entertaining. It didn’t help that I didn’t know all the words, but he was helping me out a little bit. It was one of those things where it’s like, okay, try to top this.

How many Thompson properties are you responsible for? I’m based out in LA right now, and I take care of all the front-of-house stuff for the Tropicana Bar, Teddy’s, Above Beverley Hills, and our new property Above Allen, which I’m really excited about. I’m responsible for programming the music, hiring the DJs, hiring promoters where they’re needed, and coming up with creative ideas to drive business.

How did you get into the hotel business? While I was going to Parsons, a lot of my friends were DJs and into nightlife, so to make some extra money I started throwing parties, and I got pretty good at it. I’ve always been interested in hotels, and even though I run the bars, it’s really all-encompassing because bars can be very much one-note, while hotels are multifaceted and have a more interesting operation. Jason Pomeranc, who owns the Thompson Group, was a good friend of mine — we had some mutual friends — and he hired me to do the Tropicana Bar, then we started to do Teddy’s and … voila! Who do you admire in the industry? I think somebody who’s really done it right is Sean MacPherson. He seems to have a great sensibility and great sense of timing for all the places he’s opened. I really respect his work — he’s got a ton of places, including The Bowery Hotel, Swingers, and a great tequila bar called El Carmen in LA. They’re places that last because he makes them accessible and not too exclusive. He delivers a great product with great service and a cool aesthetic. I would definitely use his career as a model.

What’s the best part of your job? I actually enjoy the creativity behind coming up with different concepts that people would like. For instance, in the summertime at the Roosevelt’s Tropicana Bar, which is kind of an oasis inside Hollywood, on Sunday or Monday we’re going to be doing movie nights. We will have different people curate the movies, and we’re building special menus with truffle popcorn, colby hotdogs, etc. It’ll be a night when people don’t necessarily want to go out and rage, but they’ll go and see a movie in a bar. Finding different ways to find revenue is something I really enjoy. The second thing is that I actually genuinely like people. Some people in this business actually don’t, but I tend to get along with people and enjoy most of their company.

You’re a bi-coastal boy. Where do you hang out when you’re in New York? I love to eat. I’m a closet foodie, so I have some go-to restaurants whenever I come to New York. I love Frankie’s in Brooklyn on Court Street, and I’m always discovering new places like Inoteca, which I really like. Frank, I’ve been going to forever on 2nd Avenue and the Corner Bistro to get my Bistro burger on — it’s the world’s greatest burger. In terms of bars, it all depends on what neighborhood I’m in, but there are a lot of great bars on the LES (besides Above Allen, of course) like Pianos and a lot of little local joints. But having a lot of friends in the business means that I have friends who own bars, so when I’m in New York, I usually do the rounds of all my friends’ bars, like 3 Steps on 18th Street, and then the bigger, popular spots also.

And in LA? In LA, the closest bar to me is the Chateau Marmont, so I like going there — the Bar Marmont is really great. There’s also been an emergence of a lot of really cool dive bars like The Woods, El Carmen, and Bar Lubitsch that I enjoy.

Which of your bars do you spend the most time at? Teddy’s. It’s kind of like my baby. It’s something that I work really hard on and has managed to stay successful for a long time. It’s a great space. In LA, a lot of places tend to be really slick and overdesigned, but Dodd Mitchell designed this space, and it really has a lot of character. The Roosevelt is already a historical landmark, and the design really lends itself to that. It has kind of a wine cave kind of feeling — it’s dark and comfortable — and we have great staff, great service, and it’s become kind of like Cheers, where people know each other and know that there will always be a good crowd and great music. We have great DJs that we always rotate, in addition to live music, so it’s become almost an institution at this point.

What positive trends do you see in the hospitality industry? Well, it’s more of a reality and not a trend, but the state of our economy is forcing us to do things differently and more efficiently. I think it’s actually a good thing that for the first time in a long time. People are going to actually have to live within their means. People are really tightening up their belts and trying to find interesting ways to still be successful in this economy. Bottle service, for example, is starting to fizzle, which I think actually has a good effect in the long run. I remember when bottle service first started; I was talking to Steve Lewis about this earlier. I remember that Life was one of the first places that people actually didn’t have to be cool to get in … they didn’t have to be artists anymore. And all of a sudden the investment bankers and hedge fund guys could come in and buy bottles and be in an exclusive place, and I think it hurt nightlife in a huge way. Now, with those people not spending as much money, and bottle service not being as prevalent in New York especially, I think it’s coming back to cool people coming together. Artists, etc. People who didn’t necessarily have money before the crash, and can still go out. I think that’s had a positive effect on nightlife.

Where do you see yourself in the future? I think the natural progression of things is to open my own place, but I’d definitely like to be in the hospitality business. I’d love to start with a small hotel and see what happens.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to my parents’ house and having a home-cooked meal.

Industry Insiders: Christian Frizzell, Redwood’s Swashbuckler

The native Angeleno and self-made nightlife poobah shares his thoughts on downtown business, celebrity joints, and his movement into the art world.

What do you do? Well, this is a question I ask of myself a lot lately. I used to describe myself as a bean counter because of my consulting business for bars. In the cash-happy, alcohol-lubricated business, I was the checks and balances guy. Now I’ve become more of a glad-hand — a lot of meeting and greeting. People have been calling me a trendsetter, though I see myself as just having a healthy work ethic. If I have to sum myself up as one thing, it would be an ambassador of the service industry.

Besides your own Redwood Bar & Grill, where can you be found in the evenings? If I have to say one restaurant in Los Angeles, it would have to be Musso & Franks. Whether it’s some hipster investor I’m trying impress, my relatives from out of state, or a nice dinner out with my wife, it is always in the top five.

I am not a club guy. So my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. However, The Edison has the right vibe and music for me. Add the historical element and knowledgeable bartenders, and I’m satisfied with my club experience there. My favorite bar right now would be Sean MacPherson’s Bar Lubitsch. I am not a vodka person — I love scotch, scotch, scotch — but the vodka drinks I’ve had there have converted me. The vibe is pre-WWII, Parisian parlor with a flair for the Bolshevik.

Many people seem to admire MacPherson. Sean MacPherson is the person who taught me the importance of the little details without forgetting the big picture. And Keith McNally is someone whose talent is only transcended by his success.

What’s one positive trend that you see in the hospitality industry? It seems to me that franchises are out, and kitsch is in. Inspiration and creativity are two of the most attractive qualities available.

Negative trends? Celebrity-driven hotspots drive me crazy. They are never what they’re hyped up to be, and they crash and burn almost as fast as they open.

Do you think Downtown’s renaissance will continue if the economy continues to go downhill? I do. I grew up in Los Angeles, and Downtown always had a majestic quality to it. There is something about the poorest of the poor being next to some of the wealthiest of the wealthy that nurtures dynamic creativity. That’s one of the esoteric reasons I believe in Downtown’s growth. Another reason is that Los Angeles can’t grow out anymore — we have to grow up, as in height. Downtown already has the infrastructure for that.

Would LA be a better nightlife town if it had reliable public transport, or are we car people no matter what? Absolutely. More trains, cabs, and buses, and later hours too. We work hard, we play hard. We should all have access to safe, reasonable transportation.

What is something that people might not know about you? That I’m shy and don’t like crowds.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight I am having a dinner meeting with my first featured artist, William Herron, for the gallery I’m opening in February 2009. The gallery will be downtown on 2nd Street and is called the “Federal Arts Project.” Willy and I are going for noodles in Little Tokyo. After that, I’m going to try and catch Mike Stinson’s set at the Redwood. Ahoy!

Industry Insiders: Chris Barish, Martini Park Ranger

Martini Park and Marquee co-owner Chris Barish on underage promoting, the power of the water-sipping celeb, bringing club culture to suburbia, and growing up with the Governator.

Point of Origin: I’m from New York. I started throwing parties at my parents’ home when I was young. We’re talking really young, like 15, 16 years old. You know, there used to be fun clubs in New York. They would have an off night, and I would come in and make a deal with whomever the owner was, because either they were failing a bit or they wanted to make a little extra money. I’d promote to the various people I had met in grade school who had then graduated to high school. When you think about it, we were really young, and I can’t believe these clubs would let us do it. It was New York, and it was a different time, different era, different laws, and a different mayor.

Occupations: I started off investing in Moomba because I just knew that it would be a great success. Jeff Gossett (Moomba owner) had become a good friend and asked me to invest. It became my little playground. In the last 18 years nothing has reached that level. It was celebrity heaven. You had to be in in to go. Which was the opposite of what I ended up doing with Light in midtown.

Light opened September of 2000. I remember we opened on a Tuesday night. There were maybe 20 people in the room. I was nervous. Then Thursday night, Charlie Sheen, who had stopped drinking, did me a favor and came in and only drank water. By 5:30 that evening, there was a line wrapping all the way around the block.

We opened Light Vegas a year later in the Bellagio — same name, but a nightclub. We did something that Vegas had not done in a long time. We flew in over 30 movie stars, athletes. We got a business Boeing jet and flew up Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Gordon, and Sting. Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards were there and happy. We got press everywhere [for that]. We then opened up a place called Caramel at the Bellagio and a place called Mist at Treasure Island. When I turned 30, I got a nice offer by the Bellagio to get bought out after only being open two years. By 2005, I started scouting locations around the country (for Martini Park). I felt like there was a need in the marketplace for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and on for an upscale nightlife experience that starts after work and leads into the rest of the night. We’re a hospitality-driven nightlife experience for everyone — for people like me. It’s a playground for grownups. We opened in a [Dallas] suburb called Plano, Texas. Then opened up in Chicago and now we’re about to open in Columbus, Ohio, in late October. We will open three to four next year.

Side Hustle: I love film. I produced a short film [called “Kill the Day”] for a very talented friend. I like to play tennis. I’d like to be a yogi, but I can’t really find the time. I’m a new daddy now so everything changes.

Favorite Hangs: When I’m not traveling, my home away from home is Da Silvano. Besides Silvano, I’ve been a fan of Raoul’s for 20 years. When I did go out before [my wife] Michelle’s pregnancy, I’d go to Soho House, Rose Bar, and Waverly Inn. I know it sounds predictable. My favorite old school bar is Merc Bar. It will never close. John McDonald is the owner and a good friend.

Known Associates: I admire, respect, and am good friends with Mark Packer, the owner of Tao. I think he’s one of the best operators out there. Noah [Tepperberg] and Jason [Strauss] from Marquee are colleagues and great friends of mine. Also, Steve Hanson from B.R. Guest Restaurants. He owns about 17 restaurants in the city. He’s a friend who I can email or text, and I know within an hour he’ll text back. Also, my father (Keith Barish) was in the film business and produced 18 films. When I was 12 years old, I walked down the stairs, and there was Arnold Schwarzenegger. He and Dad did The Running Man together and became partners in Planet Hollywood. He did this great thing for my engagement party. He warned me, “First come the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then suffe-ring.”

Industry Icons: Steve Hanson is someone I want to emulate. He works day and night. I’m naming friends, but they are also people in the industry. I’ve seen a younger generation do great stuff. For example, I’ve watched Jason Pomerantz from the Thompson Hotel do his hotel expansion and he does a very good job. Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson. I don’t know Sean, but I know Eric really well. Here’s an example of someone who started off in nightclubs, had success in restaurants, and now has the Bowery Hotel and the Maritime Hotel. His taste is unbelievable.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going home early from work and I’m testing out our stroller. My wife and I are taking baby Bea out and seeing if we can get our Yorkie to fit in the undercarriage so she doesn’t feel left out.

Photo by Chelsea Stemple.

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Jah, Inn-Famous

Jeffrey Jah holds forth on going from runways to club king, bringing heat from here to Sao Paulo, and putting DEA raids behind him.

Point of Origin: I’m originally from Toronto, but now I live in Gramercy Park. After my modeling days, I was an event producer and creative director for venues. I started out having connections in the fashion industry, from photographers to make-up artists, editors, and designers. I started producing events, which eventually turned into parties, promoting clubs, directing clubs, and finally owning clubs, bars, and restaurants. I currently own the Inn/Canoe Club in New York, I’m a partner in 1Oak, a partner in Café de La Musique in Florianopolis, Brazil. I also have six Lotus clubs in Brazil, Double Seven reopening in New York, and a Double Seven opening in LA in 2009.

What events were you involved with in the early days? Well I used to put on a couple festivals at Randall’s Island. We had great bands like Jane’s Addiction and chronic raves. Some of the best events that I ever did were with Matt E. Silver. We threw some of the most legendary Halloween events over the last 15 years. Don’t take my word for it … ask the people that came to Cipriani 42nd Street, Scores, the Roxy, Milk Studios. We were the guys that put on all those events. In my early club days at [the third incarnation of] Danceteria between 1992-94, I had the pleasure of booking Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana. These groups played next to nothing back then, and it was so exciting to be a part of all that.

When you’re not at the club? What do you enjoy doing? I love snowboarding and traveling.

Side Hustle. Were you ever an undercover actor or anything? No, but after watching the Olympics, I really want to be an undercover gymnast.

What’s your worst experience working in nightlife business? My worst experience has got to be when I was working for Peter Gatien. I was there when the DEA, the FBI, and IRS raided the place and came in to arrest everyone and confiscated everything. They took all the file cabinets and the computers. I was one of the people that was lucky enough to put that incident behind me.

Who have you collaborated with? Currently I work with Ronnie Madra, Scott Sartiano, and Richie Akiva from 1Oak. We are actually opening up a 1Oak and another Butter in San Paulo, hopefully by December of this year. My newest project, that I’m really excited about, is the Lamb’s Club, which will be a restaurant/bar and catering [venue]. It’s a venture between me, David Rabin (Lotus and Double Seven) and two other partners.

Who do you look up to in the industry? Hmm … I’d have to say, Adrian Zecha who owns the Amanresorts, Izzy Sharpe who owns the Four Seasons hotel group, Keith McNally, Eric Goode, and Sean MacPherson, who gave Los Angeles swingers in the 1990s, and has been behind some of New York’s coolest hotels, like the Maritime and the Bowery.

Favorite Hangs: I never go to anyone else’s clubs … ever! Occasionally I’ll stop by the Box to see Serge [Becker] and Sebastian [Nicolas], or Rose Bar to see Nur Khan. In terms of restaurants, my favorites are Mezzogiorno, BLT Fish, and the Spotted Pig.

Projections: We have six venues opening between the three different partnerships I’m involved in. Between the two Double Sevens opening, the Lamb’s Club, Butter, and 1Oak opening in Brazil, I have a lot on my plate for next year.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to another meeting at 9 p.m., heading to the gym, then to the Inn, and then to 1Oak, and then I’ll do it all over again, and again, and again.

Counter Intelligence: The Waverly Inn’s John DeLucie

Nightly they come, exiting chauffeured limos and Maybachs, rushing by the paparazzi, and entering a Bilbo Baggins-sized door into the magical labyrinth called The Waverly Inn. There’s no need to name them. “They” have all been there, whether strolling from neighboring West Village brownstones (“Hey, Hah-vee! Can we get one shot?”), or “just in” from Los Angeles. Cannes. Sundance. Turks. Rehab.

And there are the editors, the owners, the Dillers, the glamour pusses, the disheveled ink-stained wretches with a National Magazine Award nom under their belts too. Co-owner Graydon Carter sees to the private A-list, which has not increased by much since it opened with no public reservations (but for the chosen few, access via a secret email and contact number) two years ago. Skeptics predicted a backlash, a fallout — didn’t happen.

The Waverly works because of its staff of wry and calm pros, and the guy in (and out of) the kitchen who keeps it real. In his chef whites (but thank you, no Pillsbury hat), John DeLucie, 46, traverses the wood-planked bar giving equal attention to walk-ins and presidential hopefuls. Lindsay Lohan with a gaggle of look-alikes does not faze either. She’s from Long Island, just like Amy Fisher!

A snob he’s not; his cuisine is accessibly sublime. Enough about the truffled macaroni. His chicken entrées, the beet salad, a perfect bowl of chili, those damnable biscuits are good enough for us. Here, we asked for dish, but got something more satisfying as DeLucie took morning time off to talk at Nolita’s no-less-buzzy Café Habana.

BLACKBOOK: How did you get the job as chef of the Waverly? CHEF JOHN DELUCIE: I was riding my Schwinn three-speed aimlessly around the Village one morning and saw a “FOR RENT” sign in its window. The former operators had seemingly abandoned the place. I was friendly with a neighbor who knew the landlord. I called [co-owners] Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson and said to them, I found a place for us. We signed the lease less than a month later.

What was your first impression of Vanity Fair Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter? Initially, I was intimidated, but I soon found him to be a funny and engaging ball-breaker. He is so clever. I like being around him just to listen to his views on the restaurant, and on life in general. I can’t say enough about how his involvement has impacted The Waverly.

Did you like or dislike the idea of making food for celebrity-finicky palates? For some reason I have always found myself cooking for New York City’s cognoscenti, although not on the scale of The Waverly. It’s a career path, I guess. And the truth is, here, I have found that the boldest face names have been the most gracious and the least persnickety.

How did the truffled macaroni become such a “thing?” At the time we started it, most restaurants that were doing truffles were charging considerably more than us, but they were calling their dish “Pasta con Tartufi Bianco.” We called ours “mac and cheese with white truffles,” and the press went berserk.

Do you have favorite celebrity customers? I have a healthy respect for our clientele. They are some of the most accomplished, fascinating, and fabulous people ever. I would like them all to keep coming, so I’m going to remain taciturn about who they are.

Tell me about the book you are writing, The Hunger, and how free are you with what you say about working there? It will be published by HarperCollins next spring. It’s an anecdotal account of my cooking and life experiences in New York City over the past 25 years. It is wry and funny — I hope. The Waverly is represented, but not in the context of what some leading men’s magazine editor did or didn’t eat, or who he ate it with.

Where did you learn to cook? It originally came from my maternal grandmother. Growing up, my family lived in this giant brownstone in Brooklyn, and I would find my way to her kitchen and tugged on her apron. She would make me a snack of pastina with butter, or zucchini and eggs. Those food memories stayed with me. My mom was also a good cook, and there’s obviously the Italian thing; we have a marvelously rich food culture… and we also like to yell and scream and talk over each other at the table.

Where do you eat out in Manhattan? Any place where I can use one fork for the entire meal.

Do your peers give you guff about working at Celebrity Central? Chefs can be a covetous, jealous lot. I had a sous-chef who got into a brawl in a Lower East Side bar because a fellow chef — who worked in one of those midtown temples of gastronomy, with a lot of stars awarded to it by The New York Times — had referred to him as “the guy who makes those chicken pot pies.” Defending the honor of a flaky crust: I like it.

Straight Up: Sean MacPherson

pf_main_seanmcph.jpg Sean MacPherson and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore must use the same beauty treatment. Both have the gangly strides and the “dude” demeanor of a Valley teenager, and the energy of a golden retriever. “It’s taxidermy,” says MacPherson, who we caught up with while he galloped on a treadmill in Manhattan. “I’m pickled in alcohol.”

The bi-coastal MacPherson, 42, fresh off the success of the West Village’s Waverly Inn—which he co-owns with longtime business partner Eric Goode—recently opened Bar Lubitsch in Hollywood, a Russian-themed vodka emporium. The Mao-red space has already become the hot ticket for a subtly-chic tribe of Angelenos who aren’t looking for a trendy, micro-mini-wearing set, but are looking for a sophisticated outpost to chill in (with 200 vodkas behind the bar). No surprise that his partner, Jared Meisler, managed cool-and-collected Bar Marmont when MacPherson owned that hot property too. In Los Angeles, MacPherson still presides over the enduring Swingers, the Mexican cantina El Carmen, and the accommodating Jones. In New York, he co-owns The Park, the Maritime Hotel, and together with Goode, he’s just opened two new boutique hotels, the posh former brothel Lafayette House (where Ross Bleckner and Julian Schnabel have been doing time), as well as the antiques-crammed, architectural salvage outpost that is the 135-room Bowery Hotel.

Growing up “between Malibu and Mexico,” MacPherson may have picked up a little of both place’s laissez-faire vibes. “I’ve worked my whole life,” he says, “but I’ve never had a job.”