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.

Will More Steve Hanson Spots Close?

imageI was walking my dogs past Café Habana when I ran into a group of old friends. The conversation centered on the 675 spot where Level V should be. The crew — which included a few ex-Steve Hanson employees — were talking about how “675 makes no sense” and that “another wave of contraction” of Steve’s B.R Guest properties was about to happen. I was told it’s “common knowledge” that the Starwood acquisition of B.R. Guest was “one of Starwood’s worst deals ever.” In between bites of crisp, cheesy corn, I was told that “at least one of Hanson’s properties was on the verge of closing, maybe more.”

The pal told me that these properties probably should have been closed during the last wave of shutterings that included the famed Fiamma and others. I asked which ones will be closed and was told that “Primehouse is new but doing so poorly.” He shook his head and continued, “there is so much money invested in it, it’s hard to believe it will go down, but I think it has to — that’s what I hear. I think he will retreat to just the Dos Caminos and Blue Water Grill, and I’m sure Wildwood is doing well.”

Steve Hanson looks at promoters like I look at that closet filled with my ex-wives shoes — a terrible and flamboyant waste of money. Yet promoters could have easily turned Level V into a very viable spot. “Steve was always so concerned with his image and feels that promoters are really bad for that image, but is it as bad as shutting places down, or worse, a quick fix into this 675 thing which makes no sense?” I bought him another corn, and he volunteered, “At its worst, Level V generated $30,000 on its three good days without promoters. Can 675, without bottle service, hope to generate that much?” I put in my two cents with “That’s a lot of beers,” and he replied, “Yeah, that’s what I mean.” The female corn-eater added, “It really doesn’t matter to Steve … he took in all that money with the merger.” But my corn-husking pal disagreed. “Sure, the money is always important, but Steve is so driven by image, it’s sad that it has come to this. At least with promoters there would be somebody to point a finger at.” I saw the decor of 675 online, and frankly I didn’t see much worth talking about. There was that fabulous horse with the lampshade on it, which we looked at when we were designing Aspen Social, but thought that even though it was really cool to look at one or two times, it was essentially a waste of space. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Industry Insiders: Eddie Dean, Pacha Honcho

The owner of the flagship Pacha in New York on international clientele, the rough lifestyle required for nightlife connoisseurs, and flushing out the phonies.

When you’re not partying at Pacha, where are you? I always find myself at Sushi Samba on Seventh Avenue. I love the outdoor roof. It’s a great place to entertain. I’m forever hosting people from South America and Spain there. They treat us well, and the food and the vibe is great. Asia de Cuba has great service, great food, and a great energy. I like Henry’s End in Brooklyn at the end of Henry Street. The owners are real wine connoisseurs … they search the globe and feature five reds that are unique. Just had a great meal at Dovetail, another great spot.

How did you end up here? I knew I wanted to have my own business, but I didn’t know it would be a nightclub. The opportunity presented itself. We put together a business plan to open this little bar in Bay Ridge, and then we owned about 15 places. It’s a lot of late hours, a lot of grueling work, but it’s what I do. I have moments when I’m tired and want to do something different — and then I realize that I love the people, the experience of making people happy, of employees doing well. We’re the biggest nightclub in New York, and everybody’s trying to take us out, so you need a strong constitution to come in every day and keep on fighting. It’s an exhausting battle. I was 24 when I opened my first place, and 28 when I opened another couple of places. People sometimes ask me my secret: I think long term and don’t take short cuts.

Who do you admire in the hospitality industry? The first thing I think of is longevity, not the flashy guys who are in for six months. I think of Jeffrey Chodorow and Steve Hanson. They’re successful with different restaurants with different menus in different neighborhoods. Promoters who have been successful owners include Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss from Marquee and Mark Packer of Tao. And then there are people who get into this business for the wrong reasons and muck things up.

What’s a positive trend you’ve noticed in nightclubs? I think what’s going on now is economical. The economy is going to separate the men from the boys. Over the past couple of years, people have become so money-driven that they don’t care about quality, just about how much they’re going to make before they produce anything. So, as tough as the economy is, it will flush out the phonies. The strong will survive. It will bring the quality up because there will be more good people working in fewer places. We’re making adjustments here, but we’ve buckled up and made some tough decisions. We have a viable product — a world-class nightclub — and DJs around the world want to play in a successful place more than ever.

And negative things? We don’t have enough unity in nightlife. Some people feel that it would compromise relationships, and others feel it’s getting too close to the competition. There’s too much at stake not to unify. We would get a unified voice to get the positive things that we contribute to the city to overcome the negative image. People are quick to report negativity. If there’s an arrest, if there’s a problem somewhere, it gets reported — and it’s really not fair, it’s a one-sided story.

What do you love about your joint? There’s nothing better than to be here on a Friday or Saturday night to hear the accents from around the world. More than half of the people here on New Year’s Eve were from Europe and South America. They came to celebrate at Pacha . That’s the greatest compliment of all. My doorman speaks four different languages, just to accommodate the questions from people who don’t speak English.

What is something that people might not know about you? I’m obsessed with sports. I’m a big Mets fan, but if Derek Jeter was in the club, I’d love it — he doesn’t take short cuts either. I could watch sports day and night. I watch ESPN six nights in a row. I love college sports, but right now none of my teams have had the best year. But I’m a fan, so I’m eternally optimistic. Ballplayers will come in here, and I’ll be introduced to them. I’ll tell them about their careers because I’m a statistics nut, and sometimes it spooks them.

What’s on the horizon? I’ve had several places over the years, but Pacha is a full-time project, and anything going forward will be more and more Pacha stuff to expand the brand throughout North America. The economy means we’re proceeding with caution. I take it very seriously. It’s a big responsibility, and we’re doing everything we can to keep from laying off people.

Industry Insiders: Jonathan Segal, #1 at The One Group

With hits like STK, One, Kiss & Fly, Coco de Ville, and Tenjune in his portfolio, the CEO of The One Group dishes on the bar/restaurant prototype, banking big in difficult times, and a newfound affection for live music.

Favorite restaurants? There was a restaurant called Baoli in Cannes that was probably one of my favorite restaurants, and was also a major inspirational restaurant for me in what we started to do here in America. In terms of Italian, I like Da Silvano in New York. I love my own restaurants— does that count?

Of course. Which is your favorite? My favorite for vibe and energy is probably One. And for a very cool scene is STK.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Wow where do I start? I would think eating, and having that bread roll before dinner. I should never have it because afterwards, I’m completely full, but I usually end up going to dinner so hungry that I just eat anything that’s put in front of me.

What’s on your radar for 2009? The STK in Miami is opening soon, right? It is under construction but will be open by April. That will open with a 7,000-square-foot restaurant with a 2,000-square-foot lounge adjacent to it, called Coco de Ville. And that’s pretty much how we operate our restaurants 9 times out of 10, we’ll put a lounge or a bar adjacent to or in the same infrastructure as the restaurant. Kind of a trademark of ours.

Aside from the obvious convenience factor of that, what are your other motivations for building adjacent bars and restaurants? If you look at the setup for all the things that we’ve created or we’re associated with, we try to create environments that are multi-purpose venues. For example, if you go to STK in New York, you can go to Tenjune, and then we’re building a rooftop restaurant in the Meatpacking District on that building. If you go to LA, you can come to STK and Coco de Ville, and we are building another bar adjacent to that. The real purpose is to give multiple reasons for people to visit our venues, and then they’ll go to one of those venues, or turn to eat at one or drink at another, and it sort of gives us a better ownership of the clients and creates an overall better experience. Populating close areas with mass entertainment is a really good way to secure continuation of revenue and also continuation of a good time.

When will the rooftop at STK New York open? We are going through the planning process and applications now. I would hope to get it open for this season. New Yorkers love outdoor dining, and we just can’t get enough of it. We have beautiful views over the elevated park out to the Hudson, and it’s going to be a very exciting project.

STK is one of my favorites. Oh thank you very much. It was built with you in mind— a girl who cares.

Who are two people in the hospitality industry that you look up to or two of your industry icons? One of them would be Steve Hanson. I think his attention to detail and his focus on guest service and guest experience is really something. Another person is an old school guy, and that’s Peter Morton, the founder of Hard Rock. They both have completely different operational rationales. Both were truly successful. Steve Hanson operates like the One Group. He’ll operate multiple venues with different styles of food, of design and decor, but with a common thread being that of procedure, service, routine, and structure. Peter Morton, on the other hand, went the other way, and he just focused on one single offering— the Hard Rock. That was the only thing he was really interested in, and he built a great company and just focused on that one product. I’ve had many conversations with Peter Morton about the importance of focus and attention, and I just build a different business. So what’s interesting is that the two people that I think are iconic in our industry have two completely opposite operational rationales.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen recently in the hospitality industry? For an entrepreneur, and for someone who has confidence in their operation and in the generality of the economy— it’s going to come back. Certainly in my life and business, which I am embarrassed to say is over 30 years, there’s never been a better opportunity to expand a company. And I’m probably one of the few people that is prepared to stand up and say that. I tend to have a much greater degree of confidence in the public and in their ability to work their way through the economy than I probably have in the government to make it happen. And I think hospitality is something that is susceptible to recession, but if one’s clever in the way one markets and the way one positions their product, then I think you can put a buffer up against the recession.

What’s something that people might not know about you? Just say, “He smiled happily.” And then sunk into a corner. I am slightly dyslexic, and not a lot of people know that. And yet I can absolutely read a legal contract, but I can’t read a book. I can play the piano, but I cannot read music. I also live for skiing.

What’s something on your radar right now? Live music. Over Christmas, I went to see Kid Rock play at a party. And I’ve never liked Kid Rock’s music, but I thought he was unbelievable in concert. And I’m watching him perform at this party, and I realized it’s more that you have to experience something in order to appreciate it. I would say that I definitely want to go see more live entertainment. I’ve been involved in live entertainment venues in the past. In one company, we operated more than five cabaret halls with live music, dancers, and magicians. It’s one of those things that if I could find more time, I could definitely go to concerts more. Even to see concerts that didn’t necessarily appeal to me, just to see if my view changes having seen them perform live.

What are you doing tonight? I am going to STK LA with my girlfriend. She has a company called Omnipeace that gives their money to build schools in Africa and helps finance food for villages. I try to get people to pay me for food, and she gives food away.

Level V Sinks

If Hanson can’t make it, who can? At 10 a.m. yesterday, management was informed of the closing of underground Meatpacking club Level V, part of Steve Hanson’s B.R. Guest empire. It was one of four places closed. The others — Fiamma, Ruby Foo’s Uptown, and Blue Water Grill Uptown — were restaurants dependent on broker bucks, which are becoming quite endangered lately. Level V, on the other hand, was the underground lounge/club beneath Vento, the corner restaurant in that v-shaped building at 9th Avenue and 14th Street.

The Hanson team tried their best to have a separate identity for each place, but they did share bathrooms, and neither place ever gathered the kudos they sought. Even with the best location in town, Level V could never muster an A-list crowd, and instead settled to grab what came by. Its promotional theory was basically that of a spider: build a web in a busy spot and hope for your clients to fly into it. I asked an axed Level V employee why it didn’t make it and was told that the restaurant mentality never could grasp the necessities of club promotion. They could not grasp paying promoters and decided to keep every dollar for themselves. He said he was always asking them if they would, “rather have 50% of $50,000 or 100% of $15,000” but they never grasped it. The concept of a promoter-driven club diluting the Vento brand was the reason cited to opt out. Not dealing with lowlife promoters is one thing, but shutting the doors might be a bit worse.

I’ve never felt that the Vento brand was all that great anyway. All of Steve Hanson’s places are well run, and the food is always solid, but the atmosphere at Vento is very 1992, and Level V

Upon returning from his New Years’ Eve at the Fontainebleau in Miami, another source reveals that Steve was faced with a “huge cashflow problem.” The Dos Caminos in Las Vegas’ Palazzo Hotel, with a $20-million-plus-plus-plus build-out and launch, is doing — I was told — “A mere 150 covers a night. The entire casino and resort hotel has performed poorly.” My source said that “the mounting problems with this spot are so bad that only ego and thoughts of a terminal blow to the brand are keeping it afloat.” Still, more bad news comes from the newish restaurant Primehouse that he operates on Park Avenue South. Despite a $10-million-plus build-out and launch and a Himalayan rock-salt-tiled aging room for steaks, my source tells me, “It’s a bust.” She said, “There’s no more money coming down the pipe from the famous merger of Steve Hanson and Barry Sternlicht,” which seemed just a short while ago to be the greatest deal ever made. The real question here: If Steve Hanson isn’t making it, what does it mean for everyone else?

A New Space Under the Street?

imageI took a week off to regroup and begin the New Year. I was around town, visiting clubs and trying to get a grip on what will be, and on Thursday I attended an art opening at a former assistant’s gallery. I’ve had a hundred or so assistants over the years, and the one thing this diverse group has in common is that they hate being called assistants.

Ivy Bernhard, who is now Ivy Brown, used to coordinate fashion shows for me back in the day when I made my living producing and choreographing these affairs. It was long before the tents, and we did our shows at clubs because lights, sound, techies, stages, and such were all available at these spots. And at that long ago time before the great meteorite whacked all the dinosaurs, it was cool to have a show at a trendy nightclub. I went to a Susanne Bartsch presentation of Vivienne Westwood, loved what I saw, and ran with the ball. I ended up doing about 400+ shows, including some real good ones: Katherine Hamnet, Matsuda, Stephan Jones, Martine Sitbon, Moschino, and like 395 others. This was before I tried my hand at nightlife — well, back then Ivy was my right hand (and often my left as well).

So, I popped in to see her at the Ivy Brown Gallery, which is in the Meatpacking District in that triangular building which defines 14th and 9th above Vento and Ara and Hogs and Heifers. As I was walking up the four flights, Yoko Ono was walking down. She has had a long relationship with photographer Bob Gruen, and Bob’s wife Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen was the artist showing her work. Cut-Work is amazing stuff and I urge you to check it out. I immediately ran into my mentor and the man I named my Chihuahua after, Arturo Vega. Although he’s accomplished many things, Arturo is best known for creating the artwork for the Ramones, being the guy that introduced them to those who babysat them in the beginning, and he also toured with them as their lighting director. Anyone fortunate to have seen the Ramones witnessed a lighting display that was unparalleled in its day. Arturo later ran the Ramones’ website and merchandising until deaths and differences occurred. We chatted about the work, bathed in the crowds filled with stunning beauty and intelligence, and then chatted up Ivy.

Ivy and I invariably talked about the project going on under the cobblestone of 9th avenue between 13th and 14th streets. There is a vaulted space under the street that Steve Hanson and the owner of 675 Hudson Street have been trying to develop for quite awhile. This never-before-used space has been shown around town to A-list owner and promoter types for well over a year. With 12-foot+ ceilings and actual street manhole covers as part of the ceiling, it is a wondrous room. I was a part of the design team with Chris Sheffield when I was co-owner of SLDesign. I left this project behind when I moved on, but it has always intrigued me. I was told that the community board had signed on, and the troubles they were having with the Department of Transportation were being solved. Yes, since it literally lives under a street, the DOT must be in the loop. The entrance to the space was to be through Ara, the small joint on 9th between 13th and 14th named for the building’s owner. A little bird told me that construction had begun again, but Ivy said she hadn’t seen any. Indeed, no dumpster was on 9th Avenue that evening, and I’m left to wonder what has happened. As it is a new year, I’ll start off lazy and not investigate. There’s a part of me that just doesn’t care anymore about what happens there. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to let that part win a few.

Industry Insiders: Dominick D’Alleva, Legal Eagle

Dominick D’Alleva, owner of Home and the still-hot Sway, on trading in the Law for the industry, not getting a table at his own joint, and plotting power moves in this economy.

Favorite Hangs: One of my old friends from Yale Law School and I still meet weekly at Da Silvano. We also like other, more quaint restaurants. When we go out, we go to Cipriani, Giorgione, but, since Little Italy has been eaten by Chinatown, you have to look for places [further away].

Point of Origin: I was born in Italy — in Abruzzi on the Adriatic; that had a tremendous influence as I grew up. At four, I stole eggs from my grandmother and traded them for pastries. I started early. I grew up in my uncle’s restaurant in Orsogna; now my cousin has it.

Occupations: I knew I wanted to go to law school and went to Yale Law School before I worked for a big Wall Street Firm: Simpson, Thatcher, Barber — which then represented Lehman Brothers. I always leaned towards business, and wanted to do more than law, which I always thought was a little boring. I finally got into the hospitality, club, and restaurant business in the early 1990s … so my partner and I opened Conscience Point, which lasted for four years. There, I met David Page, the chef, and we opened up Home restaurant a year later here in Greenwich Village. We went from a country club to the Village, with organic food and wines principally from the East Coast. Then, we did Nemo together in South Beach, which was about 1994. There was no Portofino, no nothing — only Joe’s Stone Crab.

I was still in the real estate business, and in 1995, I had a foreclosure at 305 Spring Street, which housed — among other things — McGovern’s Bar, which had been there for 50 years on the corner that met Greenwich. When it ran into some difficulties, I took over the space and we put in a club — Sway. It took a while, but at the time it was tough in real estate and restaurants, so we didn’t open until late 1998. I did open up a new restaurant that had an Italian flavor … Risotteria on Bleecker and Morton. It’s still there, and now I can’t get a table! It started out as salads and risotto and reasonably priced Italian comfort food. Then, we got into gluten-free food, and certain people allergic to wheat loved our pizzas and cookies.

Any non-industry projects in the works? In philanthropy, we have two organizations we work with: ARTrageous, the foster children’s organization, which raises money through auctioning off art. I like to collect, so it was a win/win. I bought a Jeff Koons, who has contributed a lot of his work for the program. I also collaborate with the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless. Henry Buhl’s Sunflower Festival auctions off pieces of art to raise money for the organization. This year, we’ve made $450,000 so far. Those are our two favorite charities, and the next art auction is in May. For those who contribute, the money for the art goes to the foster children. Robin and I are also great supporters of yoga charities and, of course, we subscribe to ABT [American Ballet Theatre] and support the ballet.

Industry Icons: I would say Donald Trump, for a lot of reasons. For stock investments: Warren Buffett. And for restaurants, I would say Steve Hanson, because he not only did the chain restaurant, but also ventured into three-star Fiamma.

Projections: We’re going to have another Risotteria. We were going to do a Pleasure Club on Second Avenue and 46th Street, but have decided on a location closer to the river, in either Midtown or the West side. Also, because of the real estate situation, opportunities should be appearing soon.

What are you doing tonight? After our dinner at Home, we’re stopping off at Sway for mac and cheese, and then going back to our penthouse to enjoy the view from the Trump Tower.

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.